Aardwolf Baby Pics!

Our most hard to see hyena, the Aardwolf.  Recently on a walk I flushed an Aardwolf from a burrow. On another walk weeks later the same Aardwolf sprang from the same hole.  Kechine our expert tracker could see some other very small prints in the fine dust beside the entrance.  We put the camera on it and this is what we got:

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Aardwolf
Aardwolf Babies
Aardwolf Babies
Aardwolf in Laikipia
Aardwolf in Laikipia
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Elephants and Walking Safaris

 

Greetings from Tumaren. Outside the office, as I type, a small herd of Elephants are breaking Acacia branches to get at the tasty bark. They are part of the second largest population of Elephants in Kenya and they are a welcome distraction from the accounts.

Elephants in fact are one of my favorite aspects of life in Laikipia and specifically of the walks I guide. On Tumaren, our conservation area, we often have several herds around and observing these animals is typically the highlight of my walks. Elephants, as most guests already know, are complex and intelligent animals and observing them on safari can be a life affirming pleasure.

It shouldn’t be surprising that I think the best way to Elephant-watch is on foot, but it is. On foot we make our appoach always considering the wind direction. We are silent and slow and the animals are oblivious to our presence. Their behavior then is naturual and unrehearsed (even the tame animals in the game park behave differently when they are concious of a nearby vehicle or human smell).

Another life affirming aspect of walking with Elephants is the understanding of exactly where our species ranks in the wild. The African Elephant is the largest terrestrial species of animal on Earth. When you walk beside them you appreciate that fact. You feel small and it is humbling to realize how humans evolved beside such monstrous gentle giants.

The relationship, of course, has been a rocky one, especially in recent years. But all of our guests pay conservation fees that help safeguard our Eles among all the other fauna and flora and we are hugely thankful for that. Here are a few of our elephant achievements that we are quite proud of:

  • Elephants Mums are now so comfortable that they regularly give birth on Tumaren. This is now a common occurence but it never happened when we first purchased the property
  • We have rescued one orphan named Tumaren who was sent to the Sheldrick orphanage and is now part of their orphan herd at Ithumba
  • We no longer have snares in our area. The last snare we removed was many years ago
  • Through diligent patrols, our area is now no longer a safe place for poachers to operate in
  • Each year we guide a 100 mile walk to raise money for Elephant conservation efforts in Kenya

Anyway, all our trumpeting best to you and your family.

James Christian and the Elephants

Karisia Elephants
Walking with Elephants
Elephants in Laikipia

 Karisia Walking Safaris

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Trees Being felled like mad in Karisia Hills

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.

DSC_3853DSC_3860DSC_3861On 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. DSC_3886

Karisia Walking Safaris

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Exploiting African Sandlewood

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:
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Karisia Walking Safaris

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De Braza Monkeys Images from Mathew’s Range

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:
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Karisia Walking Safaris

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Squatters are Bad for the Environment

Over much of Kenya you will find derelict land occupied by a few squatters. In our area of Laikipia there are two huge ranches that have been taken over by squatters. The land has been totally denuded and all the trees have been felled for charcoal. Here is a picture of a the boundary between a well managed private farm on the left and a farm that has been taken over by squatters on the right.
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Why in gods name i ask is squatting a good idea? This land is worth millions of dollars. If this property could be purchased it would most likely be purchased by someone who would revive the natural habitat and manage for wildlife since tourism has been shown to be one of the best means of making a living in this area. The buyer would then need to employ many people to help look after the property as well as the businesses on it. It is likely that the buyer could hire more people than live there anyway. Squatting rights is one of those things i will never understand. Why a country like Kenya allows people to steal and destroy private property is beyond me.

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Baby Aardvark Rescue

This baby Aardvark was found during one of our camel safaris on Aug. 28th. This morning I took him to the vet for an x-ray after sleeping with him in the same bed. He has a broken leg and rib. The leg surgery on Thursday will be long says Dieter Rottcher the leading wildlife vet here. We just hope he will make it till thurs….

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Karisia Walking Safaris

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Baby Elephant Rescue: Part 2

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Tumaren, as our Elephant had become known, spent the night in Hassan’s room at our main Office/Camp. She had a very long night pacing and bellowing in a shriek-type call i can only compare to the noises Dynosaurs make in hollywood films.  Because she was under the same corrugated iron roof as everybody else it was a long night for all.  Our original plan was to keep her window open so that she could check on me in my bed that i had set just beneath it.  I had gone with this idea rather than sleeping inside the room because Tumaren was still quite feisty and she would have squashed me while i slept.  The problem though that i found just as i was saying goodnight to Tumaren through the window was made quite clear as she launched both front feet up onto the sill and used her head and trunk to drag the rest of her body up so that she was teetering on the sill, trying to escape completly.  Now i found myself in the strange position of wrestling an elephant alone at night in a window. I screamed for help.  With the assistance of Leshilling and Tation we were able to get Tumaren back into the room.  We then had to seal the window to prevent any further escapes.
After about 2 am Tumaren calmed a bit and while he kept pacing he stopped screaming.  I got up every few hours to look in on him and allow him to smell me and be reassured.

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In the morning we made a plan with some Kenya Wildlife Service representives to inspect Tumaren’s mum and get the go-ahead to send Tumaren to the orphanage in Nairobi.  Mr. Dixon Too, Senior Warden for Laikipia and Senior Elephant Programme Co-ordinator Mr. Moses Litoroh.
After having a look at Tumaren’s mother they concluded, as we did the day before, that she should be put down.  Afterward, It was a releif to know that she was no longer in pain and it was also good that we had removed Tumaren the night before so that she was not present at such a horrible moment.

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As soon as we we able to, we called The Sheldrick Trust to notify them that Tumaren was ready for pick up.  When back at the office we entered Tumaren’s room to calm her a bit before moving her.  She was drinking well and even eating soft grasses that we picked for her.

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After tying her legs, placing a blanket on her head and wetting down her skin a bit we drove Tumaren on her side to the Kimanjo Airstrip.  From there she was picked up by a Boskovitch Airways Flight and brought successfully to the Orphanage.

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We will keep you all up on Tumaren’s news as she fits in with the other orpahns.  We are told to expect that she will loose some condition in the next week as she deals with the stress but that she should begin to regain condition after that period.  Good Luck Tumaren!

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Karisia Walking Safaris

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Crocodile Slaughter on Ewaso Nyiro River

My concerns for the crocs in the Ewaso were confirmed the other day when Kerry and I passed a camp downstream at an area called Ntodo.  We found 2 dead crocs that were hunted down while they hid pathetically in the last remaining hiding places on the river.  A local Samburu that we spoke with said that they had killed 8 in the immediate area, most of whom had hidden under the fig treen in the photograph below.  you can see in the images of the tree where they had cut the roots  to access the crocs hiding underneath. the last image in of one of the crocs dead and still in his hiding place. all very sad and we can only hope that enough small crocs survive till the river starts flowing again.  The worst part of this water disaster is that it has all been man-made. This is what happens when there is no water management, an excess of corruption and no enforcement of existing laws.

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Karisia Walking Safaris

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