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"We are dedicated to providing exclusive , bespoke, upmarket,

tailor-made, luxury safaris and exotic holidays for the discerning client looking for the ultimate, authentic, classical Kenya safari, away from the mass tourism sector".

Bush Telegraph Newsletter June 2014  

 




C&P SECURITY STATEMENT

Dear friends & partners,

After receiving many emails asking for more information about the Mombasa security update and wide coverage in the UK media, we felt we needed to make a statement:

The UK (only) have issued a travel advisory against tourists visiting the town of Mombasa and immediate local environs, i.e. the island of Mombasa itself, and across the north bridge to Mtwapa and the southern ferry to Tiwi. This area has been added to the existing areas where tourists should not visit, including close to the Somali border, and the slum areas of Nairobi. It follows more of the same intimidation specifically targeted against Kenyans, and not tourists, of small explosive devices in local bars and local buses. We assume that the UK foreign office have included Mombasa town because they are concerned tourists in the town may explore local bars and travel on local matatus; which indeed especially the backpacking traveller might.
 
Media sensation - The area immediately surrounding Mombasa town includes a number of the big package tour beach hotels that the budget charter companies use.

One of the UK's "big 5" tour operators, Tui UK made the financial decision of not moving their clients out of the area affected to comparable hotels on the Kenya beach, but instead cancelled further charter planes from the UK, and immediately rebooked all of their clients onto their last scheduled chartered planes.
 
Sadly, this was of course extremely disruptive to their clients and caused a UK media sensation. This was not an evacuation as reported in the press - Thomas Cook, Kuoni UK, Cosmos, Hayes & Jarvis, and other big European charter companies, have left their UK and European clients to enjoy their holidays on the Kenya coast.

The majority of the Kenya beach areas are unaffected, as are any parts of Nairobi where a tourist would visit, and all safari destinations. None of the coastal airports and airstrips is affected, including Mombasa International Airport. Our guests that are staying in upmarket hotels on quiet beaches nowhere near Mombasa are unaffected, and quietly enjoying their holidays. This has absolutely no impact, nor insurance implications, on any of our safari clients who are travelling to regions hundreds of miles away from the area highlighted by the UK FCO advisory.

Best Regards,

Stefano & Liz Cheli



For over a week in early April everyone at DSWT, KWS, Save the Elephants (STE) and their followers, watched an elephant called Cherie fight for her life. Cherie is a female elephant from a family known as the First Ladies in Samburu, Northern Kenya. She had appeared sick with stomach pains before finally collapsing on the 7th April 2014 with her approximately 5-6 month old calf beside her. KWS veterinary officer, Dr. Bernard Rono, who heads the DSWT funded Meru Mobile veterinary unit, was called to Samburu to inspect her from a safe distance as she was clearly too weak to survive an anesthetic. Dr. Rono could determine no visible injury and could not be certain what her ailment was. It was heartbreaking for all involved to be so close but unable to treat Cherie, instead having to rely on the elephants amazing healing powers and hope for the best.

Cherie was monitored over night with a rescue team ready to retrieve her young calf if the worse should happen. However, on the morning of the 8th April Cherie was found on her feet feeding, with her calf suckling and her family all around her. Everyone's hopes were briefly lifted but sadly it was not to be. By the afternoon Cherie again lay down on the river bank and seemed to be fading away. Her calf now too seemed to be appearing weaker and more listless, as if he hadn't been getting enough milk. The team was torn between rescuing the young calf, which would mean euthanizing Cherie, or giving her another chance to make a recovery.

Again Cherie seemed to make a vast improvement over night and on the 9th of April was found feeding on Commiphora bushes which the Samburu people also use for medicine, but poor Cherie collapsed by the afternoon leaving everyone in suspense.
 
Sadly, on the evening of the 9th of April Cherie laid down for the last time in a dried up watercourse. She passed away leaving her young calf, and everyone who had watched her battle for her life, to mourn her passing.

KWS rangers, Nasuulu community scouts and STE staff stayed overnight to keep watch over her calf. A storm was brewing and the young calf, obviously wanting to seek the comfort of his family, tried to leave his mother's limp body during the night. The monitoring team attempted to catch him as they were afraid they would lose him and he had no chance of survival on his own and remained vulnerable to predators. However, he was still strong and after two hours of chasing him through Salvadora (Sokotei) bush and skidding around in the mud they had to call it a night. The following morning the team thankfully managed to locate the young elephant again and after a dramatic rescue; dodging several bull elephants and fighting the thick Sokotei bush, the young bull calf, named appropriately Sokotei, was captured.

The DSWT rescue plane touched down in Samburu and efficiently loaded the calf for transport to Nairobi with the help of all those involved in his safe capture. His trip throughout the flight was uneventful but he was immediately placed on dripsto aid dehydration and his stress levels managed for the duration of the flight. He arrived at the Nursery by early afternoon on the 11th April 2014. He was clearly very thirsty; downing two bottles of milk, a bottle of water and a bottle of rehydration! After he had quenched his thirst he started to investigate his surroundings, examining all corners of his new home and even standing up against the walls of his stockade. Sokotei did not behave aggressively towards the keepers or worried onlookers and readily held his trunk out to investigate the people around him. When two keepers entered his stockade, after a few initial mock charges, he decided to accept them and having sucked their fingers eventually lay down, tired and grieving.

It wasn't long before the other orphans were brought to the stockade; eager to investigate what all the commotion was about. Barsilinga and Kithaka were first to approach the gate and the three young elephants entwined their trunks in greeting. Tundani was next up followed by young Suswa. Barsilinga never left the gate, offering great comfort to Sokotei, though Kithaka, as always the most mischievous, tried to sneak up on Sokotei's observers and push them over. Sokotei quickly realized the chain and padlock was holding the gate closed, preventing him from joining the other elephants, so he started to try and remove it with his trunk! Finally, it was time for the older orphans to return to the bush and give Sokotei some peace and quiet as he was clearly exhausted from his tragic loss and dramatic rescue. He was visibly lifted having seen the other elephants and started playing with his greens and later lay down to roll and then rest.

In the meantime back in Samburu Dr. Rono had performed an autopsy on Cherie and it was established that she had a twisted gut, and had not been able to defecate for nearly a week. A serious infection had taken hold as a result and internally her gut had begun to rot.

Thankfully, Sokotei's blood work results revealed nothing ominous. He joined the others out in the forest the very next day and loved their company, although clearly was missing his mother and family. He loved his milk feeds but was suffering from terrible diarrhea which was extremely difficult to halt. His stomach simply could not cope with all the stress and of course this very different milk. We changed his sleeping quarters to be near Barsilinga to help reduce his stress.We treated him with antibiotics to help the stomach and resorted to changing his milk formula.

Thankfully a combination of everything we did seemed to do the trick and after a very precarious two weeks Sokotei's stomach normalized and he grew stronger and happier with each passing day. He has settled down, still loves his milk bottles and is growing fond of the Keepers. Although initially he was reluctant to return to his stable at night he now knows the routine and runs home in the evening, along with all the others, knowing exactly which stable to put himself into while he settles down for the night. We are confident that Sokotei will be afforded a second chance thanks to the commitment and dedication of all those who have done so much to save this precious little chap.

Hopefully Cherie's son will grow up to be a strong wild bull and carry her genes into the next generation.


 

Newest Member of our Portfolio - Lentorre Lodge

Bush and Beyond is thrilled to announce the newest member of our portfolio and a
brand new property in Kenya,
Lentorre Lodge. Nestled amongst the foothills of the
Nguruman Escarpment, in the heart of the South Rift Valley, just three hours from Nairobi is one of Kenya's newest luxury safari lodges. Named after the near-by spring that provides year round sustenance
for the diverse wildlife that inhabits the Olkirimatian Conservancy, Lentorre Lodge is built on a spur overlooking the vast untouched wilderness below.
 
The lodge is the result of a life-long passion by four likeminded Kenyans with a desire to show the world the magic and wonders of this un-spoilt region.

Comprising of four en-suite rooms that can hold either a double or twin bed configuration and a further two family units with both rooms being en-suite.

Each room is a separate and stand-alone structure and has an un-spoilt view of the wilderness looking towards Shompole Mountain in the distance. Each room also has its own dedicated plunge pool, as well as hot and cold running water feeding the incredible power showers and luxurious baths.

With no fence, and water holes on two side of 
the lodge, you really do feel close tonature, and with spotlights illuminating the area in front of each unit you can take time out to relax and enjoy the view from your very own "home away from home".

The Olkirimatian Conservancy is situated on the elephant migratory corridor between the world famous Maasai Mara and the Amboseli National Park ensuring that the wildlife is both prolific and diverse. As well as a healthy population of these rare and endangered pachyderms the conservancy is also home to all of the large predators. The once threatened population of lions in the area is now one of the healthiest in the country, thanks to the ongoing work of the local research centre which has recently identified over sixty individuals in approximately seven prides spread between the Olkirimatian Conservancy and the neighbouring Shompole Conservancy, together with a growing population of cheetah and numerous leopard. These two protected areas are combined to create a 60 000 acre safe haven for wildlife in the area.
 
Four different leopards have been identified drinking at the lodge's waterholes, and the area is home to a variety of plains game such as wildebeest, buffalo, zebra, maasai giraffe, eland, grant's gazelle, impala, hartebeest, gerenuk, waterbuck, and both lesser and greater kudu. A forest belt less than three kilometres from the lodge is also home to a colony of the beautiful Colobus monkeys.

Activities at Lentorre Lodge include game drives (both day & night), canoeing safaris along the Ewaso Ngiro, fishing, bird watching, camel safaris, walking with a habituated troop of baboons, tracking lion with Rebuild the Pride, community visits plus visits to Lake Magadi & Lake Natron.

Come to Lentorre Lodge and experience your "home away from home" in Kenya.



Jackson Looseyia - Private Guide Extraordinaire

We are pleased to announce that Jackson Looseyia is back in the Bush and Beyond portfolio as an exclusive private guide. Jackson was born in the Maasai Mara sometime in 1967 and went to school in the Mara. He joined Rekero 1985 as a night guard when Ron and Pauline Beaton were farming, near the Mara, at Olaingabori. In 1987 Ron and Pauline founded what is now Rekero and Jackson was taken in as a junior tracker after following his late father who then was the chief tracker. Jackson then progressed to be the first Maasai guide in the Mara after Ron and Pauline identified his unusual talent for guiding.

Ron soon realized that Jackson needed to spread his wings and sent him to South Africa for exposure and learning. Filled with knowledge and inspiration he then guided for the next 15 years. In 1996 Jackson and Ron's son Gerard took shares in Rekero and so a new chapter opened with the two childhood friends as business partners. In 2010 Jackson, while still heavily involved with Rekero, launched a new private homes concept named Nomadic Encounters. This fresh and dynamic idea has been designed to bring this magical region to guests on their own terms both in private houses and in 2011 an exclusive mobile camp was added to the offering. In 2008, Jackson became co presenter for the very successful Big Cat series in the big budget 'Big Cat Live' and since then has gone on to play an important role in many big screen productions including Disney's African Cats, Planet Earth and a variety of wildlife productions. Over the years his public demand has taken him (and other Nomadic Encounters guides) across the globe as far as San Francisco and beyond. Jackson's main talent and passion is guiding but he is increasingly knowledgeable on the stars along with many other aspects of life in the rural Kenya.
 
The guiding teams he has developed and nurtured continue to win international awards as recently as 2011 with a pending nomination for 2012. He is married to Ann and together they have five children.



A Baby Elephant Rescue

When we arrived in Tarangire it was parched, hot and dusty. The rains that soaked the Serengeti just days earlier had not arrived - here the drought continued. The Tarangire River had been sucked dry. A few muddy holes remained to provide sanctuary from the scorching sun for elephants and hippos. Tarangire seemed bleak compared to the verdant Serengeti. But it was in Tarangire National Park that we had the most unforgettable adventure.
 
On our second game drive in Tarangire, the oppressive sun forced us to find shade in a grove of giant baobab trees when I noticed a small dark object standing under a distant tree. Grabbing my binoculars I spotted the unmistakable silhouette of a tiny baby elephant. I scanned the burnt brown horizon for the little elephant's herd and found none. Then I spotted two more dark shapes moving toward the little elephant - with distinctive arched backs, dark spots and sloping rears.



Spotted hyenas circled the baby ellie and as we approached the little elephant, two spotted hyenas skulked off into the bush. To our surprise, the baby elephant ran toward our Land Rover and started head butting the rear tire. The elephant was hot and thirsty and we managed to pour water into the little elephant's mouth.



We could see the hyenas lurking nearby in the bush, waiting for a chance to move in. We scanned the horizon looking for the elephant's family but no luck so we decided to continue to a remote ranger's camp several miles away that may be able to help. As we slowly pulled away the little elephant ran next to the Land Rover but soon tired. We stopped again and again to encourage the elephant on but it just couldn't keep up.
 
 

We decided to try and lift the elephant into the vehicle. The elephant seemed to understand our intent and with a little help put its front feet on the side of the Land Rover. We lifted the elephant's head while pushing the rear end onto the back seat. Relaxed the baby ellie leaned back on my lap and relieved itself. I'd been anointed with warm ellie pee!

With the little ellie half seated across my legs we continued on to the ranger's camp. The elephant felt hot and seemed exhausted. We were captivated with our new companion when our guide broke the spell. He nervously told us that we could get into big trouble. He explained that if we encounter elephants and the baby starts to call out, we might be charged and probably killed. "They're very defensive of their young and will do anything to get to her" he said. As we approached the ranger's camp we saw a large herd of elephants, perhaps 20 animals or more.
 
Just out of sight of the elephant herd, we eased the baby elephant out of the Land Rover. The elephant ran behind us into camp and went straight into the ranger's dark cool cement hut. As we poured water over the baby to keep it cool, we noticed the elephant herd just beyond camp had moved closer.

Two very large elephants separated from the grazing herd and seemed to be coming slowly toward us. They appeared to watch our every move.





It was getting late and unfortunately we had to leave the park before dark. The next morning we had to go back and find out what had become of the elephant and we headed off in the chilly morning air. Unlike our typical early game drive we didn't stop, not even for lions on a kill. At the ranger's camp we were told that at dusk, right after we left, two large female elephants silently walked into camp, surrounded the baby ellie and took her away. As we pulled out of camp, the herd of ellies blocked our path. We stopped and right in front of us walked a large female with a tiny baby. We all thought we noticed a pink bump on the baby ellie's head from butting our Land Rover's tire the previous day.
 
 
 
 


Lions trap hyena inside a dead elephant
 
Written by: Stratton Hatfield

The African Impact Masai Mara Cat and Wildlife Research Volunteer Project recently had an incredible encounter in the Mara Naboisho Conservancy. An old bull elephant died from natural causes and numerous scavengers were attracted to the carcass. Along with the usual hyenas and vultures there were seven sub-adult male lions.



Stratton Hatfield

While watching these feasting cats the volunteers from the project noticed that a hyena was trapped inside the belly of the dead elephant. What was most amusing about the situation was that the lions were absolutely oblivious to the hyena's presence.


Britt Klaassen



Britt Klaassen

It was a fascinating sight to watch this terrified hyena cower underneath a feeding lion.


Stratton Hatfield

Eventually the lions left the carcass for a moment at which point the hyena attempted an escape. As the hyena began to slink out one of the lions saw it.


Claudia Haeberling

It was an intense moment as the hyena jumped out of the carcass sprinting for cover with the lion in hot pursuit.

Stratton Hatfield


Stratton Hatfield
 
Fortunately for the hyena, a gorged male lion is not the quickest of animals and he escaped successfully.
The Mara Naboisho Conservancy is a 50 000 acre community pastoralist and wildlife conservation area. The conservancy borders the world famous Maasai Mara National Reserve. Naboisho means "coming together" in the Maasai's Maa language. The conservancy is supported entirely from the safari camps that are located within the conservancies' boundaries. African Impact runs and manages a wildlife conservation volunteer program within the conservancy.





Poachers Kill Iconic Elephant

Northern Kenya Mourns the Death of Mountain Bull, Its Most Famous Animal

The Lewa Wildlife Conservancy is deeply saddened to announce the death of Mountain Bull (MT Bull), the enigmatic elephant whose dedication to using the traditional elephant migration routes in northern Kenya captured the imagination of many and led to numerous conservation initiatives.



The 46-year-old elephant had been fitted with a GPS-GSM enabled collar by Save The Elephants, enabling him to be tracked as he traversed the Samburu, Lewa, Ngare Ndare and Mount Kenya landscapes. A few days ago, renowned conservationist and Lewa's co-founder Ian Craig noticed that the elephant had been immobile - his collar had not emitted any signal from its last reported position in Mount Kenya. This raised an alarm and a search by Lewa and the Mount Kenya Trust was launched. His carcass was discovered on the 15th of May, at 4:30 pm in the Mount Kenya Forest. The carcass had visible spear wounds and missing tusks. It is estimated that Mountain Bull had been poached eight days before.

No other animal has had greater impact on wildlife conservation in northern Kenya 
than Mountain Bull. Many credit him as the force behind the construction of the pioneering Lewa/Ngare Ndare Forest/Mount Kenya elephant corridor that links the forest ecosystem of Mount Kenya with the savannah ecosystems of Lewa and Samburu plains further to the north. This has led to the opening up of the traditional migration route of over 2,000 African elephants that had previously been blocked by human development in Mount Kenya.
 
The ground-breaking establishment of this corridor also led to Kenya's most recent World Heritage Site inscription when in June of 2013, the Mount Kenya World Heritage Site was extended to include Lewa and the Ngare Ndare Forest.



Mountain Bull was often involved in cases of human-elephant conflict, opening gates and raiding farms that lie on these elephant routes, highlighting the issue of human-wildlife conflict in the country and enabling conservationists to develop mitigation strategies.

Mountain Bull's death is a great loss to the conservation fraternity. He taught us much about elephant and animal behaviour, migration routes and patterns, and to a large extent, left many inspired by his bravery and resilience.

Rest in peace Mountain Bull.







Dear Mike:

This month you can read in more detail about the very positive signs of a turn-around in elephant poaching in the NRT conservancies in 2013. This is great news, and a positive sign that the combined strategy of strong community ownership and ranger forces, good mobile security back-up, improved intelligence, equipment and training, the changes in the wildlife laws, and the outcry from the Kenyan and international community are all helping to stem the tide. Read more below, including in the elephant mortality report, about the new ranger uniforms, and in the NRT security feature.
 
NRT has continued to support peace-building in the northern rangelands, with several examples of serious ethnic clashes and conflicts over grazing which have been calmed by the presence of good conservancy leadership and NRTs conflict resolution team and sensitive approach. We will aim to report on these in future newsletters. But we do know that in general the rains have fallen short of expectations this year so far, and with a huge build-up of cattle and shoats over the past 3 years of good rains, we are highly likely to see rising tensions in the next few months, as competition for grazing intensifies. NRT is rolling out a comprehensive Planned Grazing programme with many conservancies, which in future years will significantly reduce such competition and conflict, and increase the resilience of the rangelands to drought. You will be able to read more about this on our website and in future newsletters. 
 
 
 
Mike Harrison 
 
CEO

Northern Rangelands Trust

 

 

Community Conservancies - Good News for Elephants

In a time when elephant poaching in Africa has reached the highest level in a decade, NRT's 2013 elephant mortality report gave conservancies something to celebrate.

The majority of Kenya's wildlife lives outside formally protected parks and reserves, with around 25% living in the grasslands and forests of northern Kenya. This is an area with a history of violence, insecurity, poaching and grasslands degraded by overgrazing, all of which contributed to dwindling wildlife populations and increased poverty. The NRT community conservancy model aims to change all this, by linking wildlife conservation to improved livelihoods. Diversifying family income, supporting peace initiatives, helping conservancies to broker agreements with tourism operators, and rehabilitating degraded rangelands for the benefit of livestock and wildlife, are all part of this mission.
 
While NRT community conservancies aim to protect all wildlife, high risk species, in particular elephants, are the focus of most conservancy security resources. In a time when elephant poaching in Africa has reached the highest level in a decade, NRT's 2013 elephant mortality report gave conservancies something to celebrate. The proportion of illegally killed elephants (PIKE) in NRT member conservancies dropped 22% in 2013, compared to 2012.




In 2013, a total of 87 elephant carcasses were reported by NRT Conservancy Rangers. Of those, 45 carcasses were the result of poaching; making the proportion of illegally killed elephants (PIKE) 59%. This is a marked contrast to 2012, when Conservancy Rangers reported 135 carcasses, of which 108 were poached with a PIKE value of 81%.

Success in reducing poaching is likely to be as a result of a number of factors:

* Increased investment in, and capacity of, conservancy security operations (further   training of rangers and commanders, additional vehicles, employment of more rangers in some conservancies).

* The creation of a second multi-conservancy rapid response team (9-2) focusing south of the Ewaso
Nyiro river and working closely with KWS. This follows on from the success of the 9-1 anti-poaching
unit, whose main focus in north of the Ewaso Nyiro river.

* Increased social pressure from conservancy boards and communities to expose the criminals in their midst.

* The poaching crisis has also had considerable national and international media attention which has raised awareness of the issue even at a conservancy level. 

Inside NRT Security in Community Conservancies 

Northern Kenya has a history riddled with violence, primarily between livestock herders. Competition for pasture and water, especially during times of drought, force different communities to migrate to the same area and often leads to conflict. Cattle raiding has a long history in this area too, but was at its most violent during 1990s. AK-47s imported from Somalia could be easily acquired - and still can be - on the black market in towns like Isiolo and Marsabit. These years of fighting have taken their toll on the communities, wildlife and habitats of Northern Kenya, which is why improving security in NRT conservancies is such a major priority.


In 2010, 85 NRT conservancy rangers were trained by the Kenya Wildlife Service at its Manyani Field Training School. When these rangers returned to the field, they had the tools to manage the challanges faced by wildlife rangers. Two years later, NRT and KWS paid for a further 245 rangers to attend the three-month course. All NRT rangers graduated with flying colours, having gained skills in gathering and sharing intelligence, monitoring wildlife, managing combat situations and bushcraft. All NRT conservancies now have a team of better equipped rangers, who are vital not only in protecting the wildlife and managing conflict, but also in raising awareness within their communities. Many conservancies are home to several different ethnic groups, and it is ensured that all have equal representation in the ranger team.
 
There are a number of conservancy rangers that have been accorded Kenya Police Reserve (KPR) status, which means they can be provided with government weapons by the police, and can carry these arms while on duty. The KPR system has struggled in the past, with weapons frequently going missing and ending up in the wrong hands. NRT is working with the Kenya Police to improve the system, and hopes to have many more conservancy rangers awarded KPR status in the near future.
 
In the conservancies of Biliqo-Bulesa, Melako, Namunyak and Sera, wildlife has been devastated by years of poaching for both ivory and game meat. The threat remains such a large priority within these conservancies, that a specialist anti-poaching unit has been assigned to them, known by their call sign, '9-1'. Established with the help of NRT in 2009, the 9-1 team consists of 12 rangers drawn from all four conservancies, and all ethnic groups within them. This diversity has proved one of the teams' greatest strengths, as they are not only able to gain trust and intelligence from all communities, but they are more effectively able to raise awareness within those communities too. The rangers were trained in combat management by a former British army officer and have also received advanced medical training. They work closely with all the conservancy rangers too. 9-1 has proved such a success, that a 9-2 team has now been established to cover the community conservancies south of the Ewaso Nyiro river.