Tumaren is booming and the wildlife are all breeding, frolicking and fighting. THIS is the time to be on safari! I have never been able to fathom why so many people and agents steer guests away from Kenya during the rains. It is by far my own favorite time to be on safari and more international visitors should know about how nice it is.
The rain brings out lots of life that has to hide away during the long dry periods. The tortoises start to roam widely in our area and begin to search out mates. Insects of all color and shape emerge to pollinate or eat the equally diverse collection of flowering plants that erupt. Birds are nesting and the young attract the attention of many kinds of predator. The lush vegetation prompts most of the plains game to go into breeding mode – the stallion zebras fighting off advances from other males while the gazelles too come into season and begin to drop their young in the long grass. Its a predator’s dreamscape.
To give an idea of what people are missing by not travelling during the rains, here are are just a few images from a 2 hour game drive in Samburu. I didn’t stop for the bugs or flowers as there were just too many for the kids in my car.
In early November Kerry, I and some friends traveled to Ibo Island for some vacation time and we were utterly impressed with what we found. What an absolutely fascinating place. The sea and the Mangroves were stunning and the reefs were certainly in better shape than ours back in Kenya. It was the town itself though that really made the trip.
We stayed at Ibo Island Hotel. It was well run, very pretty and it fitted into the historic setting very naturally. We were told that it had been the Governor’s residence which would explain the commanding view of the bayside and the open sea.
History on Ibo is easy to access and the tour of the town was one of the highlights of our time there. Ibo was a very strategic port in the slave trade, having been first developed by the Arabs in AD 600. Gold and Ivory as well as amber, jet and turtle shell were traded here and evidence of the cultures that gravitated to Ibo are everywhere. The Portuguese held the island for the longest but they had to wrestle it off the Arabs in pitched wars that one can only imagine were very brutal. There are Chinese graves on Ibo from the 1600s and there is a section of town that was exclusively Indian.
In 1975 at Independence, the Portuguese were given the boot and since then very little development has happened on the island. This is really what makes it so special. There are no Coke signs or any signs for that matter, just beautiful architecture in different degrees of decrepitude. Seriously cool – Highly recommended. Here are some more pics:
All these trees were cut in the karisia hills in order to extract honey. it is a virgin forest and these podocarpus trees would be worth a great deal if harvested for timber. instead they rot. Does this make sense? No. What a sad state Kenya’s forests are in.
On the lower slopes hundreds of women are taking out cedar posts that they are selling in the local markets. the forestry department is obviously doing nothing to prevent this and is said by the locals to be in on the sale of the wood.
Found this toad the other night and it just seems different than the others. It lies flat to the ground and takes a different posture than the more upright “typical” toads. I put quotes around typical because i have trouble using the book to Id even our most common toad.
The exploitation of African Sandlewood (Osyris lanceolata) has become a serious issue in recent years. In our area smuggling Sandlewood has become a big business with many chiefs other politicians involved.
Here is a photo of a plant i encountered on a recent walking safari:
We have run into this species only three times while on safari. They seem to only spin their webs at night and retreat and hide during the day. I wonder if anyone else has run into this spider or something like it before…
Here he is as he hides during the day:
Here his legs are exposed during the day only because he was trying to belay himself away from my hands:
Our dear friend Chiri Chiri was sadly killed last week defending his boma from an attacking Leopard. The cat took 13 goats that night and brave Chiri went in to protect his flock. With one strike the Leopard put poor old Chiri down. To his yelps came another dog from the neighboring manyatta and that dog too was killed by the cat.
We always spoke about Chiri as the smartest dog in Africa because he would cross through miles and miles of lion and leopard country alone to come and see us. We would feed him a bit and give him any vet care should he need then he would say goodbye and return to a myriad of girlfriends back on the group ranch.
Chiri was a real hero and when Pirjo Itkonen, a reader of wildlifedirect came out to visit us Chiri stood guard outside her tent when lions were roaring close by. Pirjo was kind enough to leave Chiri with a food allowance when she left.
Anyway, Chiri we will miss you. rest in peace old friend. Below is a picture of Chiri and below that a picture of the Leopard that most likely got him ( we took it only day later not far from where Chriri was killed).
De Braza Monkeys were thought to only exist west of the Rift Valley till Helen Dufresne discovered them living in the Mathew’s Range. Overnight the population of this Endangered Primate quadrupled within Kenya (or something thereabouts – i can’t remember exactly the numbers). Check out these pictures from our last walking safari there: