Like us on Facebook    

"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".

Game Report Masai Mara October 2014 

Weather and grasslands:


This month of October has been a lovely month, we had clear skies with pastel colours of the early dawn rising to being hot and humid later on in the day, there were some localised heavy showers of rain which cooled the air and greened up the grasslands. Total rainfall for the month was 118.8mm, on the 1st day of the month we had 28mm and then on the 16th and 17th we had 46mm. The grassland areas of the western Bila Shaka, the Marsh, the Musiara Plains and Paradise Plains have a carpet of green grass although the grass is short all areas look very clean and lush. Topi Plains, North Bila Shaka and the grassland plains below Emartii are very short and dry. Water levels in the Marsh rose a little and had by the end of the month subsided. The Mara River also had come up with the rainfall during mid-month and is still flowing strong although full of silt. 

Photo courtesy of Patrick Reynolds 

General game


Large numbers of wildebeest earlier on in the month had crossed the Mara River at the main crossing points and also at the crossing point below the main rocky crossing and in the Masai conservation areas. Many of these wildebeest were the resident herds and mingled in with some of the Serengeti animals. Many zebra crossed from the West to the East, average numbers were 100-200 at a time. On the 6th, 7th and 8th approximately 500 crossed to the East at the main crossing points, crocodile were active and took three zebra down, although another zebra who was caught in the jaws of a large crocodile managed to get away on to the other side and then sadly it was snatched by a waiting lioness.


On the morning of the 4th huge numbers of wildebeest were seen crossing the Ngiatiak River in the Masai conservation area just below the double crossing (this is the river that flows into the Talek). We understand from driver guides that approximately 8-10,000 animals crossed here going towards the Trans Mara in the west. There was also another large crossing near the Chinese hill which is not far below the main crossing and these animals were going towards the Trans Mara in the west. There was an estimated 5-8,000 that had crossed here. These wildebeest are perhaps part of the many that were in and around the Bila Shaka, Musiara Marsh and Rhino Ridge. Some also had cut north east into the Masai conservation areas. 

Photo courtesy of Michael McInnes

On the 20th there were a few resident wildebeest in small pockets scattered across Bila Shaka, North Rhino Ridge fan and Musiara plains. On the 29th there seemed a mini internal resident migration with many zebra and wildebeest seemingly filling up overnight, one minute in the late evening the grassland plains seemed empty and then while on an early drive the following morning one would notice the grasslands filing up literally every hour more and more would be seen coming down from the North east and also from the south east of the Masai conservation areas, this is all due to localised rainfall patterns where some of the grasslands in between the reserve and the Masai conservation areas would get very little rain and the grasslands are still bare.


Elephant in small family units come and go, frequently crossing the Mara River. Late in the month small breeding herds of elephant were coming in from the Paradise Plains and eastern side of Rhino Ridge. These Elephant were looking for areas with longer grass with the Marsh environs being sort after, water levels in the Marsh have dropped due to the inconsistent rain, with a result that the Elephant will not stay for long. Near Lake Nakuru there are two large breeding bulls and these have come from the Masai conservation areas in the north of the Mara reserve. 

Photo courtesy of Michael McInnes 

Many giraffe are being seen throughout the Marsh and Woodlands areas of the reserve. Good sightings were being seen in the Bila Shaka with many calves who were often seen together in a crèche while their mothers will be feeding nearby, the riparian woodlands of Paradise Plains and in the acacia woodlands of the adjacent conservation areas are also good places to see giraffe. The large breeding bulls are seen moving between these breeding herds as they look for oestrus females, some more dominant bulls may travel great distances. There are also many young males who are travelling together, they will jostle and play fight by 'necking', a few mating's have been seen by older dominant males. Giraffes mate on the move and is a very quick affair, the females will have their calves after a gestation of 15-16 months, they will drop their calves while standing as opposed to the way other angulates do by lying down. 

Photo courtesy of Michael McInnes 

Olive Baboons in large troops are evident all over the Marsh grasslands and Musiara Plains, they will forage out further afield when available food stuffs are in short supply. Baboons will take fruit, grasses, insects and also invertebrates, ground birds and small mammals like that of Thompson and Impala fawns. Impala females have young fawns at present with many under two weeks old and like giraffe calves, they will be seen in crèche's or nurseries, female impala give birth after a six month gestation period. The mother has the ability to delay giving birth for an additional month if conditions are harsh. When giving birth a female impala will isolate herself from the herd despite numerous attempts by the male to keep her in his territory. The mother will often keep the fawn in an isolated spot for a few days or even leave it lying out in hiding for a couple days to a week before returning to the herd. Male Olive baboons will quite easily catch these fawns, they are quite cunning how they go about catching these Impala fawns and also those of Thompson gazelles and will eat them with their favourite female cohorts and infants will be seen trying out flesh. Both Thompson and Grants Gazelles will be seen through the Musiara grasslands, Thompson Gazelles will be more commonly seen on the open short grass plains. Good places to see both species will be the Masai Conservation areas, Bila Shaka, Topi Plains and Paradise Plains. Bohors Reedbuck are also being seen more evidently, these ungulates prefer longer grass habitats and with poor rainfall, habitat loss has caused them to compromise what they have to contend with. 

Photo courtesy of Michael McInnes 

Hippo are seen leaving the river earlier in the evening and coming back later in the morning. A large Hippo requires at least 60kgs of grass fodder per night, unfortunately they are struggling.


The banded Mongooses have been very busy between the camps, they are very active during the day and coexist along with the little dwarf mongoose, both species are insectivores. The considerably larger White tailed mongooses are seen at night, they are generally solitary and are nocturnal in their feeding habits, this species is also an insectivore but will also eat invertebrates and reptiles. We have had two sightings of the larger Egyptian mongoose this month, in Bila Shaka and the west side of the marsh. And we have had fleeting glimpses of the the slender tailed mongoose. This mongoose will climb trees readily while looking for fledglings and eggs, not uncommon to see them scurrying down head first. The Marsh Mongoose who is probably the most specialised feeder in watered byways and marshes etc. have been seen from time to time, on the 23rd in the late evening one very dark marsh mongoose was seen near the culvert hunting frogs and small fresh water crabs.


The Cape Buffalo breeding herds are on the verges of the Bila Shaka river bed and also on the Eastern fan of Rhino Ridge and on the alluvial fans below the west side of Emartii, in these grassland areas the grass levels are a little longer and more coarse which is what the buffalo prefer as they have a harder mouth that most bovids. 


There are also a few bulls that are resident within the boundaries of the Marsh, the Marsh pride lionesses and sub-adults have taken a few of these bulls. 


Photo courtesy of Michael McInnes 

Photo courtesy of Michael McInnes 

Most of the resident Topi and Cokes hartebeest have all had calves many of them born this month, guests on game drives have seen Topi calving. 

Photo courtesy of Michael McInnes 

Photo courtesy of Michael McInnes 

Eland the largest of the antelope type species are on Paradise Plains, Rhino Ridge and Bila Shaka, they are in small breeding herds.


Black Jackals are spread out with many paired couples who have pups of varying ages; termite mounds seem popular places to see pups and parents. Both parents of the Black Backed Jackal take part in the rearing of the pups. Bat eared foxes are also being seen, with the many zebra and wildebeest that were in the Musiara areas and all the dung they left behind brought on a flurry of dung beetles which the Bat Eared Foxes feed on. The bat-eared fox is predominantly an insectivore that uses its large ears to locate its prey. Generally speaking in the drier and more marginal areas of east and sub Saharan Africa up to 80% of their diet are those of the harvester termite family. When this particular species of termite is not available bat-eared foxes feed on other species of termites, they have also been observed consuming ants, crickets, grasshoppers, millipedes, moths, scorpions, spiders, and rarely birds, small mammals and some reptiles. 

Photo courtesy of Patrick Reynolds 

Many warthogs and their piglets which are 1-2 months old at present. Sows on the grassland plains have approximately 5-7 piglets although warthog piglets have little to no body hair and no subcutaneous fat they are vulnerable to sudden temperature changes. Coupled with predation sows may end up with a mortality rate of over 45% before the piglets reach 5 months of age. All the main savannah predators will prey on warthog piglets. Lion, leopard and cheetah, Spotted Hyena, Black Backed Jackals and also large raptors including Martial eagles. 

Photo courtesy of Michael McInnes 


There is lots of Spotted Hyena around, with three large den sites at Bila Shaka, Rhino Ridge and Paradise Plains. The Rhino Ridge den site has many young black cubs under the age of three months. The den on Bila Shaka has a group of cubs that are particularly playful, especially when a game drive vehicle appears, they chase each other around the cars, chewing on the tyres and hiding behind them, it is quite delightful to spend time watching this playful gang. 


Photo courtesy of Michael McInnes 


Large clans of Hyena can be seen congregating in the evenings and or the mornings when they are coming back from their hunting forays. Serval cats are also being seen particularly when the grass levels are shorter, Paradise Plains is a good place to see them and also near the Bila Shaka river bed. 

Photo courtesy of Michael McInnes 



The rock Python has been seen again this month in the Eastern areas of Bila Shaka, there are pools of water still in the river bed and this python has been seen in one large pool.


Note: A new sighting for this year and for many years was a female Giant Forest hog seen in the Trans Mara close to Little Governors camp. These suids are the largest of them all and will habituate montane forest and dense under growth. The female seen on the 4th October in the morning was actually wallowing in a water hole away from the riparian forest of the Mara River. We understand that in past years Giant Forest pigs have been seen from time to time within the Mara river woodlands. The giant forest hog, which can grow up to 2 m long and weigh up to 275-290kg for a large high montane male forest pig. Despite their size, little is actually known about the giant forest hog. The giant forest was identified circa 1904 in central Africa, making it one of the last mammals to be identified on the continent. 

Photo courtesy of Dave Richards 




New arrivals: The female Leopard of the rocky Crossing has one cub that is now perhaps two months old.




Marsh Pride, there are 30 lion with 5 young cubs under the age of one year. The main core of the Marsh pride who reside within the Musiara Marsh and the bottom end of the Bila Shaka river bed consist of the 8 sub-adults with six lionesses and two males, who are two a little over two years old although one lioness called 'Kabibi is the youngest of them all at 22 months. Bibi the older lioness, Sienna and her three cubs who are ten months old, another of the sub-adult lionesses is now called 'Yaya' who is the daughter to Sienna, she is a quieter lioness and has a different disposition to that of her mother Sienna. This pride has been seen residing in the bottom end of the Bila Shaka and also near the southern marsh areas. Charm has two cubs they are now three months old and she still keeps her cubs in the woodlands opposite the southern marsh, although lately she has been seen with the main pride. The marsh pride has been feeding regularly on the resident Cape buffalo and also on the many Zebra that have come through the Marsh and Bila Shaka areas. In the evening of the 5th the Marsh Pride wrestled with an old bull it took them over an hour before they were able to bring down the bull Buffalo. 


Photo courtesy of Michael McInnes 


The four Musketeers Scar, Sikio, Morani and Hunter have been spending more time in the Trans Mara and although sometimes one can see them either in the north Marsh or on Paradise Plains which is another crossing that these males will ford. Sikio was seen earlier on the on the Paradise Plains and Scar was seen briefly near the escarpment of the north Marsh areas.


The first breakaway pride, one of the lionesses is now called 'Mzuri'' of the Madomo pride and she has three cubs who are four months old, she had earlier on in the month moved away from Rhino Ridge and has now been seen more frequently in the lower Paradise Plains area. On the 12th Mzuri was seen with her other sister who has two cubs that are two months old, a little later on in the month they were all still together including the two Sub-adult males who are a little over two years old, one of the two sub-adults has a slightly disfigured face and this was caused when he was about three months old from being swiped from a paw from one of the core lionesses when they had ventured down from Rhino ridge. These lionesses, their five cubs and sub-adults have been feeding off topi and zebra.


The second breakaway pride of lioness and their cubs, Lippy Kini, Musiara and Jicho on the 12th and 14th had crossed the river a little upstream of the Kichwa Tembo crossing point into the Trans Mara. Lippy has three 13 month old cubs, Kini and her four 4 month old cubs and Musiara and her two 5 month old cubs all these breakaway lionesses and their cubs have now moved into the Trans Mara. Sila the only lioness left of the second breakaways with her two cubs who are three months old are within the lake Nakuru area of the marsh. Sila had three cubs earlier on in the month and unfortunately one of them was taken out by a Martial eagle. On the 30th Near the lake Nakuru area of the marsh Sienna met up with Sila and her two cubs and there was no animosity between the two lionesses, Red was in the immediate vicinity and both Sienna and Sila chased off Red until he moved through the Marsh until almost the other side! 

Photo courtesy of Michael McInnes 




There have been good leopard sightings this month.


The female Leopard 'Siri' at the Serena pump area with one four month old cub has been sighted often this month; she has been feeding off Thompson Gazelles and Impala. 

Photo courtesy of Michael McInnes 


The large male at the lower end of the Bila Shaka who also frequents the lower Paradise Plains woodlands has been seen frequently. On the 28th he had a yearling Zebra up a Warbugia tree and fed of this for a few days. He was seen again on the 30th near the copse of Warbugia trees further down the woodland areas of Paradise Plains.


The female leopard and her one two month old cub at the single rocky crossing which is in the KO3 campsite area. This female leopard has been feeding off female Impala, their fawns and warthog piglets, it is not uncommon to see leopard and lion digging out piglets form their bolt holes. This female leopard and her cub have been seen near the double crossing on the Olare Orok side of the river, she has been seen here hunting impala and Thompson Gazelles.


Romi the resident Leopard of the BBC camp site areas of the Marsh has been sighted a few times this month mainly below the Hippo bend in the Mara river, later on in the evening of the 12th she was seen to have had a female bushbuck up a Warbugia tree and again in the morning of the 18th she was seen trying to hunt Impala near the hippo bend in the Mara river this is down stream of main Camp but was chased out by male Olive Baboons. We are understanding that Romi has one or two cubs and these would be estimated at two months old, there was a sighting reported on the 6th and on the 9th of Romi with two cubs near the 'Toyota' site on the Mara river yet they were hidden so viewing was not entire. She definitely looks like she is being suckled by cubs.



Amani's four cubs have not been seen this month and we suspect that they may have been killed by either Spotted Hyena or lion that were in the Lookout vicinity where she was earlier on the latter days of last month, these cubs would be now two months old, unfortunately Cheetah have to deal with this is predator aggression.

Malaika and her five cubs who are three months old are still within the Hammer Kop and the Topi crossing area. She has been hunting Thompson Gazelles and also Impala, she is a good mother and has been so far successful with her cubs. She originally had six cubs but a lion killed one in early September.


Photo courtesy of Dave Richards


'Mbawa' the young male who is the son of Malaika, he is being seen on Paradise Plains, Rhino Ridge and as far as Emartii Hill and the Ngiatiak. He is very active in getting onto vehicles which is what Malaika is known for. He has been seen hunting Thompson Gazelles and warthog piglets.


The two males are often seen when in the Musiara and Rhino Ridge areas, they often go as far as the Olare Orok in the Masai conservation area. Like any co-alition of males these two males will travel great distances in search of food often hunting Topi Calves and Thompson Gazelles on Topi plains and Rhino Ridge.


Photo courtesy of Michael McInnes


A younger male is also being seen the western side of the Talek river towards look out hill. He has been very successful in hunting Thompson gazelles.


Walking in the Mara North Conservancy.


A few walks have been done this month; weather conditions were perfect with cool mornings and hot later after 9.00am. There has been a little rain and perhaps not as much as in the reserve so the grass levels are short and easy for walking.


Photo courtesy of Michael McInnes

There have been many zebra and wildebeest that came through from the south and east in fact huge numbers that had crossed the Talek River early in the month. Pockets of rain had fallen during the month and this has also brought on a green flush similar to that of the reserve. Topi and cokes hartebeest have also given birth in the conservation area and likewise warthogs and Thompson Gazelles. Of the warthogs the average piglet ration in this conservation area is five although up to seven and eight piglets have been seen.




There are two dens of Black Backed Jackal pups with three below the 'fly over' and a further three pups below the croton hill. The dog and bitch pair will both play an important role in the upbringing of the pups, the dog shows very little sexual dimorphism and this is typical of some canid species where paired bonds work together.

The Cape buffalo herd of an estimated 230 animals is predominantly south of the salt lick towards the acacia woodlands, there appears to be longer grass here and this is what buffalo like. Giraffe are also being seen in the Acacia woodlands, there is a loose associated herd of 36 animals and these can be spread out across the conservation area.


Photo Courtesy of Michael McInnes


Thompson Gazelles and Impala also have fawns and some of these fawns will be taken by the resident Jackals, Spotted Hyena and also Martial eagles. Spotted Hyena is also being seen on the 'fly over' grasslands and also below the white highland ridge. On the 29th two clans converged and were seen fighting over territory, one clan had caught a Thompson Gazelle in other clan's territory and this battle for rights went on for over an hour, one Hyena was left killed.


Photo Courtesy of Michael McInnes


Some Elephant in small family units have passed through the woodlands in Masai land which is south of the conservancy and also within the Acacia woodlands that lead down to the Olare Orok, they have been feeding heavily off the Acacia since grass levels are very short.


Photo Courtesy of Michael McInnes


 Eland are in small breeding herds of no more than 23 animals in the one herd we encountered, two large breeding bull Eland were also being seen on the North Eastern grasslands, it is always confusing to fully understand where the 'clicking' sound that is made by a large breeding bull eland, some say it is perhaps the Hooves while others more commonly say it is the knee 'clicking' joint that is only made from a breeding bull, it does often sound like a tent peg being hammered. It has been suggested that the clicks are a message to other males and their frequencies provide an honest and accurate measure of the individual's size and fighting ability. Elands are nomadic browser-grazers forming unstable groups, which may be either unisexual or mixed herds. 



"I can make a General in five minutes, but a good horse is hard to replace." (Abraham Lincoln) 



Felicia and I have enjoyed the most spectacular last three months with the horses across the Masai Mara. The safari ponies have done so well and given our guests much joy. Prolific wildlife on every ride. The safari camp crew have been on immaculate form, always willing, that wonderful beaming smile with tea brought to your bedside at dawn and polished boots by dusk.

We are pleased to share with you the following rates applicable for the 2015 season :

A SHORT RIDE IN THE MARA : 6 night ride http://www.safarisunlimited.com/shortmararide2015/

We have the following fixed departure dates scheduled for the Masai Mara Ride in 2015 :

6 - 14 January
1 - 9 March 22 -  30 July

3 - 11 September
23 September - 1 October 

The Mara - Vic Falls - Delta Ride in July was a great success. Next year this iconic ride is scheduled for 29 June - 11 July 2015.

MARA DELTA RIDE : 13 night ride http://www.safarisunlimited.com/maradeltaride2015

Many thanks for your continued support. Our salaams
Gordie & Felicia


Targeted for his tusks - an African icon is saved

Posted by David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust in Animal Encounters

Spotted from the air by the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust's Aerial Surveillance Team, an African bull elephant was seen to be struggling to keep up with a number of other male elephants he was travelling with in the vast Tsavo National Park. DSWT Pilot Neville Sheldrick immediately recognised this all too familiar suffering and a swelling on one of the bull's hind legs confirmed to him that the elephant had been hit by a poison arrow. 

Across Africa elephants are being targeted for their ivory, to supply a rampant illegal ivory trade. A trade driven by a demand from China, where ivory is seen as a symbol or wealth and status. A report published in August 2014 revealed that more than 100 000 elephants have been killed in the last three years, this equates one elephant killed every 15 minutes. Pilot Neville Sheldrick immediately reported the case to the DSWT Field Headquarters and Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) Veterinarian Dr. Poghon mobilised. He reached the scene rapidly thanks to the DSWT's helicopter and darted the elephant from the air with a high dose of anaesthetic. All the while the DSWT/KWS Tsavo Vet Unit was travelling by land to the scene, arriving to support Dr. Poghon in the pending treatment.

Fortunately the bull elephant fell to his left side providing easy access to the wound. The helicopter was used to push back the other males, understandably concerned for their fallen comrade, so that the injured bull could be treated for what is a life threatening wound.

A large amount of dead tissue was cut away from the wound and Dr. Poghon was soon battling against the clock as the first rains of the season chose to arrive at this moment, bringing behind them a thunderstorm. Concerned that the large bull elephant might struggle to safely gain his footing on the increasingly muddy ground, Poghon worked rapidly in cleaning the wound, administering a long acting anti-biotic and finally packing the wound with green clay. The reversal anesthetic drug was given.

Soaked and coated in mud, Poghon watched from the helicopter as just minutes later the initially disorientated elephant rose to his feet and slowly moved to re-join his male friends who remained close-by.

"Our teams on the ground are there to carry out just this kind of lifesaving work, however when one considers the scale of Tsavo, it is a testament to the abilities and skills of our pilots and ground teams that we not only identified this injured elephant, but could so rapidly react to save his life" says Director of the DSWT Rob Brandford. He goes on to say: "The use of poison arrows is all too common, resulting in a slow and agonising death for an elephant if left untreated. In just the last two weeks our Tsavo teams working with the Kenya Wildlife Service have been able to save 11 elephants from poison arrow wounds".

The poaching of elephants for their ivory is at exceptionally high levels and the slaughter of Africa's elephants, which would have included this irreplaceable treasure had it not been for the intervention of the DSWT, is impacting not only the species, it has a negative economic, environmental and political impact. 

About David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust

The David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust embraces all measures that complement the conservation and protection of wildlife. These include anti-poaching, wildlife veterinary assistance, community outreach, safe guarding the natural environment and the rescue and hand rearing of elephant and rhino.

Ol Pejeta Conservancy loses one of its northern white rhinos (not to poaching) It is with great sadness that Ol Pejeta Conservancy announces the death of one of the northern white rhinos, "Suni".

Suni was one of the four northern white rhinos residing on Ol Pejeta Conservancy. He was born 34 years ago at the Dvur Králové Zoo as the first-ever northern white rhino to be born in captivity. Together with one other male and two females, he was translocated from the zoo to Ol Pejeta in 2009. Rangers found him on the morning of October 17th, 2014, dead in his boma. Suni was not a victim of poaching and we have yet to establish the cause of his sudden death. The Kenya Wildlife Service vets will conduct a post mortem as soon as possible. In 2006, his father Saút died in the Dvur Kralove Zoo by natural causes at the same age as Suni was now. There are now only six northern white rhinos left in the world. Suni was one of the last two breeding males in the world and no northern white rhinos are known to have survived in the wild. Consequently the species now stands at the brink of complete extinction, a sorry testament to the greed of the human race. The Ol Pejeta Conservancy will continue to do what they can to work with the remaining three animals on Ol Pejeta in the hope that their efforts will one day result in the successful birth of a northern white rhino calf.

So the rains have finally broken in the north, with some good and widespread rainfall across the NRT conservancies. We can expect a reduction in tensions that the long dry spell has fuelled.

October has been a diverse month as usual. Here's a flavour: NRT bought 1,580 cattle, a very timely set of purchases when needed most in the dry season, and we are well on target for our scale up to 3,000 head this year - this brings us huge conservation leverage in the conservancy communities. Six more conservancies were registered as not-for-profit companies, a target set out in our strategic plan. Our peace team negotiated the safe return of 189 cows from Samburu to their Turkana owners, and 89 cows from the Borana to the Samburu, and the new tourism agreement was finally agreed between Saruni and Kalama  Conservancy after months of negotiation. 

In an effort to get young people more involved in conservancy activities, 60 morans (young warriors) were taken from Sera to Ol Pejeta to see what good grass and cattle management looks like, and they returned very impressed and enthusiastic to become peace and development ambassadors for NRT. They will also be key agents in helping the acceptance and management of the new Sera Rhino Sanctuary when this rolls out in 2015. In enterprises, a new women's group was established in Namunyak Conservancy for running bead-making enterprises. 

And finally, the Lokichar Conservancy was established in Turkana. This is the first NRT conservancy in this County and perhaps a prelude to NRT's expansion into that area - more on this exciting new development in a future newsletter. We are looking forward to a green November.

Mike Harrison
Chief Executive Officer 
Northern Rangelands Trust

Peace, Mountains and a Long Walk for Elephants

For the first time in northern Kenya, elephants can retrace an ancient migration route using a safe corridor of community wildlife conservancies.

 Ivory poaching isn't the only threat to African elephants. As populations across the continent increase (a new UNICEF report estimates that by the end of this century, 40% of the world's people will be African, up from the current 15%) elephants face increasing pressure on their habitats. As more farmland is developed across their ancient migration routes, elephants are being penalised for breaking fences and destroying crops, and farmers face devastating losses of income. Cases of human/elephant conflict are common, and both sides suffer the consequences. 

But for the elephants of northern Kenya - this trend is being reversed. Now, for the first time, they can travel from the fertile slopes of Mt. Kenya all the way to Mt. Marsabit, over 340 kilometres away, using a corridor of community wildlife conservancies.

The elephants' journey would take them across savannah and shrub plains where they would find grazing, and water points along the Ewaso Nyiro River. The corridor also connects them safely to the Mathews Forest in Namunyak Conservancy, another important haven for elephants. NRT's dedicated anti-poaching team, known simply by their call sign '9 - 1', cover the conservancies of Sera, Namunyak, Melako and Biliqo-Bulesa; providing elephants with extra protection as they cross these vast rangelands. 

The final pieces of the jigsaw puzzle were put into place last year, when the French Development Agency (Agence Française de Développement, or AFD) channeled funding into the rehabilitation and protection of Marsabit National Park, managed by our close  working partners, the Kenya Wildlife Service and the Kenya Forest Service. Included in this, was a grant from the FFEM (Fond Francais pour l'Environnement Mondial - the French Global Environment Facility) for three new NRT member community conservancies; Songa, Shurr and Jaldesa, that now surround the Park.

Mount Marsabit is an extraordinary oasis of lush, green, well watered forest that rises out of the Chalbi desert in the north of Kenya, just 140km from the Ethiopian border. It is a vital water tower in an otherwise dry and barren area, and has a rich diversity of wildlife. But fighting between the Gabbra, Rendille and Borana communities has dominated this region for years; with devastating consequences for families, livelihoods and for local wildlife. Building peace runs through every vein of the community conservancy model; from tackling ethnic conflict through dialogue to ensuring equitable and sustainable distribution of natural resources, and empowering communities to work together. Having seen the model in action by visiting established member conservancies, the communities of Marsabit were keen to implement the same, and to ensure the sustainability of their mountain resources. 

In late September, representatives from AFD together with NRT senior staff, visited Marsabit for a one year on review of the project. Manager of Shurr Conservancy, Ali Mohamed, reported that the level of awareness and perception amongst the community had changed since the establishment of the conservancy. He says a sense of ownership of the land, and its resources, has been key to changing mindsets here; and people are starting to see results; less conflict, returning wildlife, and the promise of better grazing.

Billfish activity improving in northern waters 

Written by David Slater "Honeylulu" 

Good weather continues at the coast, with some rain showers but the winds are gentle and seas remain calm. While it was slow on the fishing scene early in the week, recent days have shown improvement and some black marlin have been caught with others lost around the Watamu Banks, and the odd sailfish also has been caught. 

Unreel found a sail on the 3rd and also saw some good wahoo action, while the next day was the best day for some time, with Castle Lager catching a black marlin and Unreel a sailfish, while Neptune from Malindi had four sail up to the baits from which they released two and they also missed a black marlin when the strike failed to hook up. Other boats had catches of wahoo and tuna and the odd shark was also reported. On the 5th, Alleycat released a black marlin on a morning trip, so it does seem that the fish are beginning to turn on. This could be due to the wind, which has shown signs of swinging into the east, and one can expect this swing to continue as the month wears on, ending in a full kaskazi or north-east monsoon by December. This is the signal for the beginning of the main marlin season which skippers and anglers will look forward to.

Nov 23rd will be the Eye Go Fishing Tournament at Mtwapa, which will be fully sponsored by Capt Andy's Fishing Supplies. This annual tournament raises money for the Kwale Eye Centre which over the years has restored the gift of sight to thousands who would otherwise been blind, and does an amazing job under the supervision of Dr Helen Roberts and her dedicated team. It is a popular tournament and always well supported, so let's hope the fishing will be good.

Some interesting news from the African Billfish Foundation, as two sailfish tags have been recovered in northern Tanzanian waters. One was tagged by White Bear off Malindi in 2008, and the other by Little Toot off Manda Island in 2007, so they had been at large for six and seven years respectively. The recoveries were 160 and 240 nautical miles south of the tagging, interesting to know these fish have survived safely for so long, and hopefully have bred thousands of little sailfish in the period!

Monster trevally claims world record

Visiting angler Manfred Schmitt from Germany, fishing on Tarka with skipper Callum Looman out from Watamu, boated a monster giant trevally, locally called karambesi, which weighed in at 71kgs and is being claimed as a world record on 24kg line. The previous record, caught three years ago in Tanzania, was 56.6kgs so this indicates what an amazing catch this is, and once again firmly establishes Kenya as one of the world's top sport angling areas. 

Next day, the same team ran to the North Kenya banks and had a busy day, catching over 480kgs of yellowfin tuna, making for one very happy fisherman. Earlier in the week, Tarka caught a bullshark, so they have had a good run. Alleycat also has been doing well, with two black marlin, a sail and four nice karambesi up to 30kgs last week - these latter fish are generally tagged and released these days as stocks seemed low and they are resident fish rather than migratory. Unreel found a black marlin in the Banks area, interesting to see these marlin still around there in November after a good run since August. 

From Hemingways, B's Nest tagged two sail with Robert Urthaler fishing, and the same angler had a good catch of wahoo, kingfish, barracuda, and a 35kg giant trevally for a busy day on one earlier trip, while on another trip they released two trevally of 35 and 20kgs and boated a bullshark. 

Malindi boats are concentrating on sailfish in their local waters now, as these are starting to arrive now, presumably migrating south from the Lamu area which has seen good catches recently. Eclare had a busy day on Tuesday, catching five sail from the fifteen they raise to the baits, with Snowgoose having one from seven shots, but the latter boat came top gun the previous day with five sail from the dozen which they had up taking the baits and a black marlin as well, a terrific day for their anglers. On Sunday the same boat found four sailfish and Eclare three, so Malindi fishing getting hot, and the sail run usually peaks in early December so now is the time for sail aficionados to come and try their skills.