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Bush Telegraph Newsletter

March 2014



As 2014 gets underway we have had suspense and drama in the Mara with an amazing story of survival and rescue of a small lion cub. In Rwanda with managers Nelis and Tracy away relief manager James trekked to see the Agashya Gorilla Family. At Loldia there are new leopard cubs near to the house and new bat eared fox cubs at the airstrip and in the Mara fresh water has been installed at the new community clinic. Governors Aviation continues to fly high and guests are enjoying our new check in facilities at Wilson Airport.



Governors' Camp Collection


Game Report January 2014 



Weather and grasslands 

More rain fell in the first three weeks of January with the odd heavy storm. Rainfall for the month was 81mm. The river rose a little during mid-month and subsided very quickly. Since then water levels have been progressively getting lower. We have had warm days with cool evenings; there have been some very pleasant days with early morning temperatures of 16C and Midday averaging out at 30C. Grass levels are still relatively short on the open plains, yet in the Paradise area of low lying depressions there are longer grasses. Within the woodlands there is the medium sized tree called Diospyros Abyssinica, which is fruiting heavily, soiled marks being left on hard surfaces by the uneaten fruit, this year has to be the heaviest baring of fruit in many years. The Warburgia Ugandensis tree has very little fruit so Elephant here have not been too persistent. 


 Photo courtesy of Emma Konstantinithi


General game


Elephant can be seen throughout the Marsh and Riverine woodlands. There are many young calves with these family units. A few large bulls will be seen passing through. Male Elephant here do not carry that large ivory as compared with their sub-Saharan counterparts or even those of north eastern Kenya, gene pools and trace elements play a big role. 


 Photo courtesy of Will Fortesque 



Defassa waterbuck are spread out within the Marsh grassland verges and between the camps. Impala breeding herds and male satellite herds are in and out of the woodlands. There is a large mixed breeding herd near to Little Governors crossing, the two resident Leopards here feed well. Cokes Hartebeest and Topi are seen in greater numbers on the Musiara, Paradise and Rhino Ridge Plains. Topi are 'bite selectors' so where rainfall patterns have been more dramatic Topi in large numbers will favour these grassland pockets. On the whole Cokes Hartebeest are in smaller herd sizes and will be seen well scattered. Two Buffalo herds can be seen one in the Bila Shaka area and the other near Rhino Ridge. These two herds have been seen to converge and will stretch almost the entire length of the Bila Shaka riverbed. A few older bachelor males will be seen close to the Marsh grass verges and numerous bachelor herds can be seen all the way down the Marsh, solitary ones like retired brigadiers hang out in between the camps.


Good numbers of Olive Baboons can be found on the roadside verges or else on the grassland plains as they forage, while coming back at night to roost. Masai Giraffe are everywhere particularly in woodland habitats. Acacia woodlands are good places to see them and also in the riverine woodlands. Large herd numbers will often be seen crossing the open plains as they move from one feeding area to another, this sighting is a true African landscape classic and very photogenic. There are still many younger males between the woodlands of the camps. 



Photo courtesy of Ngei


Bohors reed buck are being seen readily, riverbed depressions with coarse grasses are good areas to see them. Bushbuck are often seen in open glades although they are a habituated riverine species that in the same tribe as Eland and Kudu. The males can be very dark while females are paler brown with white spotting. Dik Dik's in monogamous pairs will be seen wherever there is good cover; males are smaller than the females and tend to pair bond for long periods. Males have large pre-orbital glands and will mark grass stems or twigs within their territorial grounds. They will also defecate on well used territorial dung heaps which are often close to a marked grass stem and this is known amongst ungulates as 'olfactory communication'.


Serval cats have been sighted frequently, the Bila Shaka and on the Paradise plains areas are good places to see these grass cats. Serval cats are able to jump amazingly well as can be shown by some photographers. Spotted Hyenas can be seen in large clan sizes and will be seen in particularly large numbers where ever lion densities are less restricting, competing strongly with lion. The spotted Hyena is a cursorial predator with a large heart

although they have tremendous stamina. Both predators will rob each other of their kills. Spotted Hyena form complex and hierarchical social groups and use nearly a dozen distinct vocalizations. Clans are matrilinear and females are dominant over males. Juvenile males will emigrate after puberty and join new clans where their position in the dominance hierarchy may increase over time. Females, however, have stable linear dominance hierarchies. Rank is inherited from the mother so, these hierarchies remain stable for many generations. The spotted Hyena is sexually dimorphic with females weighing about 6.6 kg more than males. Males are not as large as females with males weight ranges from about 45 to 60 kg whereas females weigh 55 to over 70 kg during successful times. The gestation period for Spotted Hyena is 4 months and the birthing of young in females is a painful one, generally they give birth to twins although 1 to 4 young are possible.


The females give birth through their penis-like clitoris. During birth, the clitoris will rupture to allow the young to pass through. The resulting wound can take several weeks to heal. Cubs are not weaned until they are approximately 18 months of age. Females are capable of producing a litter every 11 to 21 months. 



Photo courtesy of Steve Clark


On Rhino Ridge there have been numerous sightings this month of two side stripped Jackals, it appears to be a male and female although a shy species of canid they are quite distinct from the more common relatives the Black Backed Jackal. 




News update: Sienna has three cubs in the Bila Shaka riverbed area of Musiara!! 



Photo courtesy of Rob Landel


Marsh pride of 25 lion all together, with their 7 sub adult cubs of varying age groups of 16 months and 19 months of age, Bibi, Siena and Charm and the four musketeers. 'Red' the main star male of the sub-adults looks like he is growing his whiskers!! He now looks the part. Bibi is looking her age and is a little thin as was seen on the 30th, she had a fracas earlier on in the month and subsequently was injured in the left thigh and on her back, that wound is healing though.


Of the four breakaways Jicho and Kinny while Sila and particularly Lippy are with the three cubs who are four months old, they frequent the Marsh, Culvert and woodland areas close to the marsh.


Lost cub


In the morning of the 17th Sila and Lippy were seen up towards the bottom end of the Bila Shaka riverbed which is the home range of the core lionesses, there was obviously a fracas with the cubs running off, one female cub continued to run towards the woodlands, the other two were seen following Lippy as she made her way out back towards the Marsh. That evening Lippy and Sila were seen near the Lake Nakuru area of the Marsh with only two cubs, the third cub was not to be seen. 

Photo courtesy of Steve Clark


On the 18th at 4.20pm a driver guide called saying that a young cub is in the long grass near the croton hill across the Bila Shaka rivers bed. On the 20th evening it was seen again in the same area but this time up a gardenia tree and again on the 22nd evening up in the same tree. 


Photo courtesy of Moses Manduku


After on and off sightings and an astonishing nine days after it was first separated from its mother we had another clear sighting, the Kenyan Wildlife Services were alerted and, and assisted by a team from Governors Camp, the Anne K Taylor Fund team and the David Sheldrick Wildlife Foundation, they sprung into action. They managed to track down the cub, gather it up in a blanket and take it back to its two siblings in a small forest clearing near Governors Il Moran Camp (Lippy was away hunting). 


Photos courtesy of Will Fortescue


As soon as the rangers let her go she bolted off in to the bushes and hid both from the rescue team and the other cubs. The team waited until the sun was well and truly set but eventually decided that their presence wasn't going to be of anymore help. Leaving the clearing they headed back to Governors camp hoping that by the time morning came the cubs would have found each other. 



Photo courtesy of Moses Manduku


As soon as the sun was up the following morning we were off in search of the cubs and hopefully their mother. We returned to the spot we had left them the night before only to find it deserted. After plenty of searching in the surrounding bushes it became clear that the cubs had moved on, this meant that Lippy must have come to collect them. This was good news providing she had accepted the 3rd cub. A passing car told us he had just seen a Lioness with two cubs at the Northern edge of the Marsh...Refusing to believe she had left her newly returned cub behind we headed straight to the spot they'd been seen, only to find Lippy and two cubs lying by the Mara River trying to get warm in the morning sun. In stunned silence we started to look in to all the surrounding bushes - and there she was, head poking out of a bush eyeing our car. As we watched she left the bush, and went to sit with the rest of her newly rediscovered family, sharing an affectionate moment with each of her siblings on the way. 



Photo courtesy of Patrick Reynolds


It was such a relief to see her and everyone here is delighted that it's all worked out. The next day mother Lippy and Sila left the cubs and crossed the Mara River almost being eaten by a crocodile, and spent all day on the other side of the river, again we held our breath, what had happened to the cubs and why had she abandoned them we didn't see the cubs all day but Lippy and Sila must have crossed the Mara River that night because the next morning they were back together with all three cubs. In the following days the cub has settled back well into life amongst the pride. The fact that this cub survived nine days on its own in the wild is an astonishing story of survival, we think that it spent its nights safely hidden in the branches of the gardenia tree and its days scavenging from the remains of the hippo kill. The Governors Camp guides have chosen to call her Akili which means wise and we hope her mother can keep her safe and sound for the future of the Mara lions. 



A great deal of thanks is owed to the Kenya Wildlife Service, Anne K Taylor Fund and David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust for their efforts to rescue this little Lion cub.


One Buffalo was taken near the Bila Shaka riverbed. Hunter, Sikio and Morani have been seen recently and mostly in the north end of the Marsh, Morani and Hunter were seen mating with the two breakaways Kinny and Jicho most recently.


Scar: On the 28th at 6.30am Scar the main lion and Icon of the Musketeers was seen to be seriously injured in the right shoulder perhaps from marauding with livestock in the Masai Conservation areas. With the help of the Kenya Wildlife service's Vet Dr Dominic Mijele and that of the Governors Camp staff he was treated and stitched, within an hour Scar was left in the shade of a croton tree to recover. That evening he was seen in the same place still lying down. The Following day 29th at 7.00am he was very much alert and had moved some 15 feet to another croton tree. Looking at Scar and listening to what Dr Dominic Mijele said we felt that there was a very good chance that he will pull through. Apart from why he was treated and for what ailments he has to be the cleanest and healthiest of many big cats that have been darted in the immediate areas. On the 30th he moved himself about 25 yards downstream, he got himself out onto an open grass glade and yawned heavily, he was looking tired yet very alert and ended up resting under a croton tree in the Bila Shaka river bed. Many Lion receive nasty wounds and sometimes even fatal wounds when the struggle for survival is taken to the next level. At 12.30pm on the 31st Scar rolled onto his back and let out a sigh and promptly fell asleep.


The paradise females of three lionesses and four cubs which two who are 11 months old and the two are 16 months old. This pride is still being seen in the Paradise area of the Mara River.


Nyota and 2 year old Male lion Moja were seen on Rhino ridge on the 26th. Moja is still very close to his mother. Moja is looking very well although Nyota looks like she has had a hard innings, one of her canines is missing and the left ear looks battered, these two are inseparable and very nice to see a mother lioness that is so close to her 2 year old male offspring, this is the Lioness and cub that was being filmed during the big cat live in March/April 2011.





Romi and her 15 month old male cub have been the focus of all Leopard sightings. They can be seen from the BBC camp site and as far as the wooded areas close to Little Governors. They have been active in feeding off impala and bushbuck. They pass by the camps most nights often unnoticed until the security guards point out the tracks. Daily sightings have been recorded of these two leopards; the male is now 15 months old and will be leaving to fend for himself soon.


In the late evening of the 29th at approximately 1.30pm Romi and her male sub-adult cub sat in the car park at IL Moran Camp for over an hour, perhaps waiting for the bus that never came!! 



Photo courtesy of Steve Clark


The 'mortuary' male continues to be seen between Hippo corner and the mortuary crossing point. He was last seen near the copse of trees at the bottom end of Paradise plains. The large male that frequents the west side of the Marsh grass verges and as far as the Bila Shaka was also seen earlier on the month.


The female leopard with two 8 month old cubs have been seen again near the rocky hill on the Mara River close to the west ridge fan that leads into paradise plains.




Malaika was spotted on the Paradise plains earlier on the month, she has been seen frequently since and as far as Rhino ridge. She has been feeding off Thompson Gazelles and scrub Hares.


The young male of the three brothers whose mother was Honey, he was seen a few times on Topi plains in the first two weeks of the month hunting Thomson Gazelles, he was last seen again on the 22nd heading towards the Masai conservation areas in the north east. 


Photo courtesy of Steve Clark


The young female Cheetah called 'Amani' who now has only one cub that is 4 months old, one was lost to Spotted Hyena early last month and now another has been lost to Hyena, she is still being seen more in the Masai conservation areas that abut the southern boundaries of the reserve. We have heard reports that she and her one cub are well and were last seen in the Naibosho area close to the Olare Orok conservancy and was seen hunting Thomson Gazelle.


Walking in the Mara North Conservancy.


Weather has been favourable for walking, short grass in most areas and sometimes a little dew. Zebra in many numbers had been passing through from the east as rain patterns sustain localized areas. Elephant move from grasslands where they have been during the night to the Acacia woodlands later in the day. A few large bulls pass through the Mara North conservancy and one particular large one has been collared. These large bulls move great distances.


Giraffe will be seen in large herds of which one breeding herd is over 40 animals. They can be seen as they move back and forth though out the acacia woodlands. The Acacia Gerrardii is the prevalent one and giraffe and elephant like it. Giraffe like eating the leaves and young thorns while elephant will strip the bark and even kill the tree. This acacia has its uses; it fixes nitrogen, provides fodder for giraffe and goats etc., and is relatively tolerant of drought.


There are two buffalo herds that move between the White Highland ridge and the plains above the 'Fly over' the grass levels in the lowland depressions that come off the ridge are longer than most areas, these are good place to see Buffalo and Elephant.


Two leopards have been seen near the Fly over thickets and one of them a large male is thought to habituate the rocky gorge that lends its way to Leopard Gorge. 

Photo courtesy of Tricia Goldstone


Two great sightings of the Boomslang snake in two separate Gardenia trees, these trees are good places to see them, one was green and the other an olive/brown. The Boomslang has an egg shaped head with extremely large eyes; this gives the Boomslang a very distinct appearance. A Boomslang may be brown, green, grey or any colour in between and depending on sex and age. This is rare in snakes, and the Boomslang uses this coloration to full advantage. It often will hunt lizards and chameleons, and it needs to be able to blend in.


Topi and Cokes Hartebeest will be seen on the open grasslands plains in the east and west of the conservation areas. A few Wildebeest pass through with solitary males standing out on territorial ground.


Eland in small herd sizes will be seen on the Fly over plans and also on the White highland ridge, Eland are varied feeders and will browse as well as graze when grasses are in leaf and available.


Bull Eland have been noted eating the fruit of the orange leafed Croton (croton dichogamus), male Giraffe also eats this fruit and the leaves of the Warburgia tree, and perhaps the oils permeate through the skin and act as an insect repellent. Two Aardwolves have been seen again near the Olare Orok River, there is a den site near the main acacia thicket. They are a nocturnal species with an insectivorous diet and seeing one in daylight hours was a bonus.




A trek to see the Agashya Gorilla Family


5:15 AM


A knock on the door wakes me up and I get up to open the door. Peter my room steward comes in and places a tray of hot chocolate and some home-baked cookies on the coffee table. He cheerfully asks me how my night was and I give a sleepy mumble in response.


I quickly shower to wake me up and by 6AM I head down to reception where I am fitted with Gators, given gloves, a back pack and a simple snack along with several other guests. Some struggling more than others with the unfamiliar morning routine!


Once ready and checking I had my passport at hand, I popped into the dining room for breakfast. It is too early for me to eat so I force a piece of carrot & banana cake down with a couple of glasses of freshly squeezed juice and add a couple of boiled eggs and an extra piece of banana cake to my snack.


6:30 AM


Now feeling a little more awake I head down to the car park to see my driver Ken who whisks me off to the park HQ. 10 minutes later we are there and Ken requests the warden for me to see the Agashya family which I am fortunately allocated. I then mill about with the other trekkers and watch a colourful display of traditional dancing as I pour myself a final cup of coffee. Finally the groups have all been allocated and Ken leads to an area where my trekking group is congregating to be briefed by our guides Francois and Eugene. I have trekked with Eugene once before and know him to be a very good guide. This was going to be my first trek with Francois and I was looking forward to it.


After everyone had been introduced we were briefed about the Gorilla habitat, basic Gorilla behaviour and routines such as feeding, nesting, grooming and courtship and about the specific dynamics of the Agashya family group.


The Agashya family is made up of 23 Gorillas. Unlike all other families that tourists can see, Agashya has only one Silverback. There are 3 Black-Backs (these are sub-adult males), 7 Juvenile males, 7 Adult females, one sub-adult female (whom Agashya 'stole' from the Hirwa group) and 5 babies ranging in age from 8 months to 3 and a half years. We were informed that Agashya was very fortunate because he had 7 mature females to mate with (more than most Silverbacks have to themselves). As a result of this however, most of the sub-adult females leave the group. This is because they are low ranking females and will be denied mating rights to the Silverback by the other females who want as much attention from Agashya as they can get. Females are often also 'stolen' by other Gorillas. Agashya is a relatively easy target as he is the sole protector of his family with no other help from subordinate Silverbacks. The most recent loss was of two sub-adult females to a Silverback called Ruheni (or the 'run-away') who split from the Sabyinyo family years back and has since built a solid family from such skirmish raids on neighbouring families.


Agashya means 'Special' in Kinyarwanda, the national language. The group received this name after the way in which the Silverback called Agashya came to be the dominant and only Silverback in the group back in 2003. That year the last remaining Silverback of Group 13 died of disease, leaving no Silverback within the family to take over. As a result one of the Black-Backs took the role as leader for a couple of short months before Agashya (who had been roaming as an outcast young Silverback) happened upon the Group and seized his unique opportunity to lead his own group. Agashya easily over- powered the leading Black-Back who was no match in size or strength to himself, who quickly fled to become an outcast himself. Another black-back was blinded in one eye and 'put in his place'. Agashya is also suspected of having killed 2 babies in the process so as to enable him to start mating with the mothers sooner. Subsequently Agashya grew bold and continued a rampage of skirmishes on all of the neighbouring Gorilla families to grow his own. Within two years he had gone from 3 mature females in the group to having 11. He now has a very large family and epitomizes successful, rags to riches story of Silverback Gorillas. 




8:00 AM


Once we had been given the low-down, I jumped back in the car with Ken and we drove to the trekking site on the western foothills of Sabyinyo Mountain. On arrival 20 minutes later, I hired a porter and took a walking stick that was offered to me and we started the trek.


8:25 AM


This trek was by far the easiest (although not the shortest) I have done in several. The Agashya family were at this point in time not on a steep section of Sabyinyo Mountain which can be a gruelling trek. Instead we walked for 15 minutes on a very gradual and

gentle path to the park boundary before we reached the wall of the park. The next 35 minutes was a very gentle and gradual ascent (roughly a 15 degree incline) through relatively small bamboo forest which is always a beautiful and surreal landscape to trek through. We then had to negotiate 10 minutes of steep climbing (roughly a 50 degree incline) still through bamboo, although now the bamboo was growing more densely and much taller and I began feeling slightly short of breath for the first time in the trek. The next half hour before we met the Tracker Team at the RV was more gradual once again with about a 30 degree incline and my breathing steadied once again.


9:55 AM


We met with the Tracker Team which indicated we were approximately 30 yards from the Gorillas now. This was mildly surprising because whilst we had been trekking for a respectable 1 and a half hour, the exertion levels had been minimal. So we went about our preparations and I was glad to see some dappled sunlight through the bamboo. I attached my 70-200mm lens and checked the flash was switched off before taking a couple of test shots. Satisfied I had a sip of water and we were then told to leave our bags and walking sticks behind with our porters and the rangers as our guides and took us forward to see the family which lay in a bushy clearing amidst the bamboo. As I stepped through the last section of bamboo I was thrilled to see most of the family sitting peacefully in close proximity to one another and relatively ideal conditions for non-flash photography. Just as that feeling was passing through me I was startled as I heard a cracking from the bamboo branches above me. I looked up to see a young Gorilla falling down to the ground on a bamboo branch to the side of me. The whole group of us were in awe as this small bundle of black fur rolled out of the bamboo and on to the ground and then casually sauntered off to be groomed by one of the females.


The proceeding hour was magical. Gorillas were all around us and it was hard to decide where to look and when. Most of the family were very subdued, relaxing, dozing, grooming and eating. However the 3 babies we saw were being much more active and playing constantly with each other and also rotting up some of the older Gorillas who were very tolerant. A couple of times, one particular Black-Back would throw a tantrum and come crashing through the bush screeching and knocking down branches as he came. When this happened a few other females and Balck-Backs would all get up on to their fours and start chanting a 'ohu-ohu-oho-ohu' seemingly trying to pacify the aggressive behaviour, which would be very short lived each time before the usual peace and serenity of the setting returned shortly after. Agashya barely blinked an eyelid to any of this commotion which was evidently common behaviour on behalf of the adolescent. 











We moved once or twice when Agashya decided to tuck into a bamboo banquet. He is such a majestic and gentle creature, but there was no denying his strength when he would bend down a thick bamboo branch right over so that he could eat the succulent smaller leaves on the tops.


The hour passed too quickly, but I was very glad for the fact I had managed to get a handful of good pictures which is never easy. Of the 23 Gorillas in the family we had seen approximately 16, which was a good number. Once the hour was up we said goodbye and made our way back to the porters and tucked into our snacks before heading down to the car park and back to the lodge for lunch. I tipped the tracker team a small thank you, paid the porter and gave the guides a thank you.


It had been a great trek and Francois had provided entertainment throughout the trek stopping by Pyrethrum flower and explaining its use in manufacturing pesticide. He also showed us how Gorillas would eat young eucalyptus trees and demonstrated how they would eat plants like the thistle to provide them with up to 17 litres of water per day without having to drink. 



Pictured: Three cheetahs spare tiny antelope's life... and play with him instead 

Hello little antelope, would you like to play with us? 

Coming from three deadly cheetahs, it's the kind of invitation that's best refused - but amazingly, this impala escaped unscathed from its encounter. 

Luckily for the youngster, it seems these three male cheetahs simply weren't hungry. 



No claws for alarm: Astonishingly, these cheetahs, whose instinct is to hunt for food, decide to play with this baby impala 


That's because unlike other big cats, the cheetah hunts in the daytime, either in the early morning or late afternoon. The bursts of speed needed to catch their prey tire them out - meaning they need to rest after a kill. 

And that seems to be the secret to the antelope's survival, as it's likely it fell into the cheetahs' clutches when they were already full - and tired out - from an earlier hunt. 


Photographer Michel Denis-Huot, who captured these amazing pictures on safari in Kenya's Masai Mara in October last year, said he was astounded by what he saw. 



'These three brothers have been living together since they left their mother at about 18 months old,' he said. 'On the morning we saw them, they seemed not to be hungry, walking quickly but stopping sometimes to play together. 


Sticking your neck out: Oblivious to the danger, the impala appears to return the affection to the cheetahs


New found friends: The new-found friends part with a farewell lick 'At one point, they met a group of impala who ran away. But one youngster was not quick enough and the brothers caught it easily.' 


These extraordinary scenes followed, as the cheetahs played with the young impala the way a domestic cat might play with a ball of string. 



Sprint finish: Impala is off the menu as the youngster makes its exit 'They knocked it down, but then they lost interest,' said Michel. 'For more than 15 minutes, they remained with the young antelope without doing anything other than licking it or putting their paws on the impala's head.'


Even more extraordinarily, this story has a happy ending - after one tense moment when it looked as though one cheetah would bite the impala on the neck, the youngster ran away.


Let's hope it didn't tell all its friends how nice those big, scary looking cheetahs really are when you get to know them. 



Marlin wins 49th Delamere Trophy at Kilifi 

Written by David Slater "Honeylulu" 



The Delamere Trophy was fished last weekend at Kilifi, where fourteen boats tackled rough seas to compete for this long standing prize. The first day, Saturday was quiet with sailfish seen but few caught, and Katisaa local small private boat was the leader at the days end with two sailfish tagged, while some other boats had one sail. 

But the fish were more active the second day, especially after the wind got up and blew hard at midday, and Neptune went into the lead with a striped marlin tagged by Peter Hofmann. However Eclare, also down from Malindi, hooked into a black marlin with an hour to go and when this fish was duly tagged, together with two sail caught previously, they edged ahead to win the overall prize for anglers Swabri Shee and Lindsay Cassidy from South Africa. Katisa, fished by Cate Waterer, Robbie Clark and Eric van Vliet was third overall, and also won the Small Boat prize. Engraved crystal glassware, presented by Snoo Colvile, formed the traditional beautiful prizes and Capt Andys sponsored the dinner and beers for the anglers. 

The SADSAA Inter Provincial Championships at Hemingways finished with overall winners the Natal team of Anton Gits and Juley and Charles du Plessis, with six sail tagged over the four days. Runners-up were the Mpumalanga team, with five sail tagged and the SADSAA team were third also with five sail. Jackson Safari on White Bear was the leading skipper, with Steve Webb on Seastorm second. 


Fishing in the Rips off Watamu started to improve and Clueless tagged two big blue marlin estimated at 200 and 250kgs for a great day, and they also had a third fish on briefly. Earlier in the week B's Nest tagged a black marlin estimated at 200 kgs, while Tarka released three blacks in the week, the best about 175kgs. Sand Dollar and Castle Lager also tagged a black marlin each, and Alleycat with Deon Otto fishing has had a couple in the week, many of these fish in the Banks/Canyon area on live bait.

Fishing continued good in the Pemba Channel, and Kamara II tagged a pair of stripeys for Ralph von Allmen, his first marlin. A few days later the same boat had a stripey and a sail, and Shuwari had a stripey. Simba, en route down to Shimoni tagged two broadbill at night, a good start to their trip. 


February is generally regarded as the peak marlin month in our coastal waters, and the marlin fishing has certainly improved over the past ten days, probably as the result of less strong winds. Both the Pemba Channel and the Watamu/Malindi areas have produced some good catches. 


Eclare, following on their success in the Delamere Trophy at Kilifi, have been on a roll with a super grand slam for Lindsay Casserly last week, all three species of marlin and a sailfish on one day in the Rips off Watamu and then three days later, a grand slam with a black and a blue marlin and a sailfish, losing another couple of marlin as well. Black Widow has also had a couple of good days, with skipper Adam Ogden guiding repeat clients Bob and Andrew Taylor to tag a blue marlin each, estimated at 140kgs and 100kgs last Sunday, and then tagging a blue and a black marlin this Wednesday. 


Seahorse also tagged two blue marlin on Sunday, and the next day flew flags for both a blue and a striped marlin, while Ol Jogi tagged two blue marlin on Wednesday, with B's Nest, Snowgoose and Tarka finding a single blue. On Tuesday Unreel weighed a blue marlin of 120kgs which had died on the line, and Neptune also had a blue marlin, so a good few days in the Rips out from Watamu, with one notable fish, a blue estimated at 230kgs released on Tega - over two dozen marlin in the past week. Sailfish as well have been caught, Neptune finding six one day and Snark five another day, and it is interesting to note how most of the marlin are blues, not many stripeys as one would expect - these seem to be mainly further south.


In the Pemba Channel, Simba visiting from Watamu has had an exciting run with angler Mark Smith and in a week had scored one black, two blue and four striped marlin, with the bonus of a couple of broadbill swordfish on their run down there. Early in the week Kamara II and Shuwari had a striped marlin, with the former catching another the following day and both a stripey and a sail the day after, while White Otter had a stripey, then the next day missed a couple more on fly tackle. Good marlin fishing everywhere, we hope it continues. 




The Fight Against Poaching


Welcoming Kenya's New Wildlife Conservation Act


In late December 2013, Kenya's 

president Uhuru Kenyatta signed into law the new Act that carries some of the world's most severe penalties for wildlife crimes. The conservation world welcomed the news, a culmination of many years of lobbying for stiffer penalties to deter wildlife violence in the country.


A few highlights from the Act:


*Poaching of threatened species such as rhinos and elephants, upon conviction, attracts a penalty of life imprisonment , a fine of not less than Kshs. 20million (approx $230,000), or both


*Legal recognition of private conservancies


*The Kenya Wildlife Service board will now include two representatives nominated by private conservancies

Devolution of wildlife management by creation of wildlife conservation and compensation committees An endowment fund that will help finance conservation outside of parks
Compensation for death, injury and property destroyed by wildlife

An independent wildlife monitoring centre.


Former Poacher Seeks Redemption


Kileshi Parkusaa from Lewa's neighbouring Leparua community has made a confession. Surrounded by community members, local administration, Kenya Wildlife Service officials, Lewa security and media, he admitted to the planning and killing of two rhinos on Lewa, one being the most recently poached animal on the Conservancy.


Kileshi says he 'came clean' after pressure from his community who, on discovering his criminal acts, ostracized him and his family. He was also aware that Lewa was rapidly gathering enough evidence to convict him. With law enforcement authorities equally on his trail, Kileshi felt 'haunted and stalked'; his life had become a nightmare.


He has since surrendered his rifle with 10 rounds of ammunition. Like most poachers, greed and desire for quick gain were his motivation; however Kileshi says killing the rhinos has not made him any richer. 


As a reformed and rehabilitated poacher, he is now assisting Lewa's security team to gather intelligence on other poaching gangs in the neighbouring communities. Kileshi also has a pending case in court.

The pressure Kileshi felt, from his community and from Lewa's security, is evidence of the success of the Conservancy's community based conservation. Lewa's neighbours know well that poaching only hurts opportunities for development. Thanks to our security's increasingly strong intelligence networks this case has set a powerful example that instigators of wildlife crimes will not get far. 







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Dear friends,


We are just wallowing in fun - based at Joy's Camp in beautiful Shaba for the past two weeks, and we have until the end of February to enjoy it!


We have a changeover of managers, so we are here to review how the camp is running and handing over to new managers (sadly for us!). The food has always been excellent here at Joy's, but we are still enjoying working with the cooks on menus and dishes; putting lots of good stuff in the camp veggie garden - and trying not to put on weight. Liz is pruning the gardens, and Stefano is working with the guides. How could life be better! 

Dik Dik, Verreaux's Eagle Owl, Von Der Decken Hornbill & the rare William's Lark 


We have 3 families of wild, but relaxed Dik Dik in the camp, that just wander past you on the path and Mr & Mrs Von Der Decken hornbill still pose next to the dining room at lunch time. Did you know that both Dik Diks and the Von Der Decken hornbill mate for life? There is also a Verreaux's Eagle- Owl sitting in the tree next to tent 7 and a Pearl-spotted owlet with 3 chicks in front of tent number 9!


One of the recent highlights was a birding group that saw 107 species in a morning, including the William's Lark - Shaba being the only place in the world to see him! 


Leopard (Photo by Ninian Lowis), Striped Hyena & Lions in Shaba 

We have an excellent guiding team at the moment, most of whom come from the area, and whom we are very pleased with. Other highlights have been a sighting of 5 lions just this morning, a huge male leopard staying with a group of guests for 1.5hrs before a final snarl and loping off to hunt in the dusk and frequent sightings of the striped hyenas with clients now realizing how special that is.


We have rebuilt the swimming pool and are looking at night gamedrives, trips to Magado Crater, and have heard of some more lovely springs in Nakuprat - so watch this space! 


Sorry to make you all jealous! Come and see it for yourself... Best wishes, 

Liz & Stefano 



"Joy's Camp is a good place to start your love affair with Africa." ~ Marie Claire