"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". 



It is no secret that tourist numbers have been considerably lower this past year compared to previous years. Reasons given are the perceived terrorist actions in Kenya and the threat of Ebola, both of which are completely unfounded and have no impact on the tourism sector. 


However the damage has been done. Kenya relies heavily on tourist revenues to support its economy and conservation projects for the benefit of both wildlife and its citizens.
Magical Kenya remains the ultimate wildlife destination in Africa, so if you are thinking about the holiday experience of a lifetime, please include Kenya on your shortlist of destinations.


The clients that we have had visiting Kenya in the past few months have all come back reporting; "the holiday of a lifetime", and "we can not wait to return" and "absolutely amazing, everything was perfect and so well organised as usual" 


So what are you waiting for?


Over the last month our clients have been enjoying some wonderful safaris across all our properties. In the Masai Mara the first of the big annual migrations has begin with thousands of wildebeest and zebra filing in to the reserve from areas outside the Masai Mara. On the plains there are young everywhere you look and there have been some really special sightings including three rhino seemingly peacefully surrounded by a pride of lions. At Loldia manager Heather and her team fill us in on their trip to the scenically beautiful Lake Bogoria and at Sabyinyo Silverback Lodge, manager Wendy and Fin's new nature garden in ready, attracting lots of birds and butterflies with native flower and trees and Wendy has written a great guide on what to pack, read and watch for anyone planning to come and trek to see the Mountain Gorillas. 




Febuary Game Report Masai Mara

Weather and grasslands: 

Over the last month we have experienced warm days of 34-38° C and nights down to 24°C, this warm weather brought on pastel sunrises that opened the door at 6.50am and lively sunsets, humidity was high bringing rain on some occasions particularly on the 17th when we received 34mm. Total rainfall for the month was 71.4mm. Water levels in the marsh continue to dry up and likewise in the Mara River which is low. The grassland areas of Bila Shaka, Topi Plains, Rhino Ridge and Musiara Plains greened up a little with the rainfall on the 15th and 17th of the month, it is phenomenal how resilient these areas are on these alluvial soils. This green flush drew in many of the resident wildebeest and zebra during mid-month and the latter two weeks of the month. 

Photo courtesy of Phil Evans

General game

On the 10th of the month many resident zebra and wildebeest came through from the north east conservation areas, the wildebeest were calving at this time. Daily calves were being born on Topi Plains, Rhino Ridge and south Bila Shaka grasslands. The grass levels are short and with a green flush this kept these animals here until the 22nd when many of these resident wildebeest that were on on Topi Plains and Rhino Ridge moved back into the conservation areas. Spotted Hyena and the resident lion preyed on these new born calves. Many of these calves were up and running along with their mothers in 20 minutes as the expression goes they are almost born on the run. The wildebeest calve down over a period of three weeks during this time of the year. There are still large numbers of zebra in the Paradise Plains region and also on Rhino Ridge, the marsh environs are also supporting healthy numbers of zebra and there have been regular crossings across the Mara River. 

Photo courtesy of Dave Roberts


There are young fawns for the Thompson and Grants Gazelles, traditionally this is a month when many young are born on the plains of the Masai Mara. Black Backed Jackals and Martial Eagles are perhaps the main predators for hunting and feeding off Thompson Gazelle fawns. On the morning of the 26th two black backed Jackals; a dog and a bitch chased a Thompson fawn for over 500 meters on Rhino Ridge. The mother of the fawn and also two female Grants Gazelles came to the rescue of the fawn, the Jackal was knocked over twice and each time managed to recover instantly and keep chasing the fawn again only to be halted by a sudden arrival of a lioness ( one of the marsh sub females) who took the gazelle from them. Grants gazelles are in the marsh areas and also on the grassland plains throughout Musiara.


There are Bohors reedbuck in all areas of lowland depressions where there grass levels are very short. Lion and cheetah will prey on reedbuck. Topi and Cokes hartebeest are also well spread out. Topi on the other hand will congregate in certain areas of well drained soils that support grasses with a good leaf structure. Topi Plains, south Bila, Shaka grasslands, and Paradise Plains all have large congregations of Topi. On Paradise Plains some individual Topi have been seen mating. The mating season will soon begin, timed to co-incide with the onset of the rains which should come any day now.


Giraffe are scattered between the woodlands and grasslands, giraffe are browsers and the marsh and woodlands are good places to see them. Male giraffe will eat the leaves of aromatic and spicy plants and shrubs yet with the dry season all genders and age groups have been seen eating the leaves of the croton shrub and the Warbugia tree. The Warbugia fruit have eased off now and the Elephants are spending more time in the grasslands and in the marsh. There are still small herds of elephant across the Bila Shaka

and Topi Plains, feeding off the young acacia and balanitis. Interesting the small prickly shrub of the potato family area also eaten although the fruit is passed out whole.

Photo courtesy of Zia Manji


A breeding herd of Eland have turned up in the marsh, they have been here for some weeks now. There are around 75 females and 26 calves of varying ages. The younger calves are often together in a crèche similar to that of giraffe and impala. Olive baboons and Impala are in good numbers within the woodland verges of the camps. There are many fawns of varying ages within the breeding herds of Impala, early morning are good times to see the fawns in crèches as the sun warms up. Cape buffalo are in two breeding herds within the west Bila Shaka and Rhino Ridge grasslands. A few calves have been born and two have been taken by hyena and the paradise lion. The all-male herd of Buffalo who reside within the marsh areas have also suffered from lack of grazing and predation from the resident lion or else have been caught up in the soft wet mud. Hippo continue to suffer as grass levels dry out and feed value is tight, pod densities are increasing as water levels in the main river drop, this is causing conflicts between the males. Two male hippo have been caught up and got stuck in thick mud in the marsh and were subsequently eaten by hyena and lion. Buffalo looking for forage have unfortunaltely suffered the same fate. At IL Moran Camp there is a Hippo calf that was born on the 21st, also two other young calves further down the river near picnic site on the main river. 

Photo courtesy of Patrick Reynolds


Bushbuck will also be seen within the woodlands and also in open glades adjacent to the woodlands, often they will be seen feeding alongside baboons. Bushbuck Rams are darker and heavier than ewes. Dik Dik are also being seen in the verges of the woodlands, females are larger than the males although males are very territorial leaving well used dung middens and strongly marking grass stems with their pre-orbital gland.

Steppe eagles are still about although they should be moving on quite soon. White storks have arrived in small flocks and are being seen on the open grasslands plains or close to watered marshes. Open billed storks and Abdims Storks are also being seen.

Spotted Hyena are still very active within the Musiara, Bila Shaka, Rhino Ridge, Topi Plains and Paradise Plains, they were hunting the wildebeest calves daily when they were here earlier in the month. With large clan members in the Musiara areas they also compete strongly with the resident lion prides.

Photo courtesy of Patrick Reynolds


On the 9th two Aardwolves (perhaps a female and young) were seen on Rhino ridge, this is a great sighting. Slender mongooses have been seen within the camps, the slender mongoose is typically a carnivore, although it has been known to be an omnivore when needed. Its diet generally consists of insects but it will also eat lizards, snakes, rodents, amphibians and eggs. There is recorded footage and data from sub Saharan Africa that shows that slender mongooses are able to hunt some poisonous snakes' species, but generally snakes do not make up a large percentage of its diet. The water mongoose or marsh mongooses are also being sighted, two have been seen near the marsh, these mongooses will forage in water for molluscs, fresh water crabs and frogs etc. An Egyptian mongoose was seen on the 19th near Lake Nakuru areas of the marsh, the marsh lion came across this mongoose on a termite mound, and they harassed it until the mongoose went limp, lion in this area often encounter this large and tenacious mongoose who don't give up very quickly. White tailed mongooses are nocturnal foragers and often will be seen at night within the camp grounds. These are one of the largest of the mongoose family whereas the dwarf mongoose who is also a common camp resident are the smallest





The Marsh Pride within the Musiara marsh of 16 lion - Bibi, Charm, Sienna, two sub-adult males' Red and Tatu, six sub-adult lionesses, Sienna's three 14 month old cubs and Charm's two seven month old cubs.


This Marsh Pride with no pride males to assist are actively and successfully feeding off the resident buffalo and zebra. On the 26th a zebra was killed in a water hole and all members were feeding off this while still in the water. Bull buffalo are often taken and this will keep them going for some days. A total of four buffalo have been taken this month and to add to this zebra and wildebeest have been taken along the Bila Shaka and southern marsh areas. On the 22nd Sienna managed to dislodge her top right canine, it looked askew or broken from the gum, although a few days later she was seen very actively hunting a zebra in a waterhole and seemed in no discomfort at all. In the latter two weeks the marsh sub-lionesses have been in the west areas of Bila Shaka and were seen mating with a nomadic male, later on in the month they were seen near Rhino Ridge. They are still a little young with none of them reaching three and half years old. The musketeers are not present much of the time and this does put pressure and insecurity onto the pride allowing nomadic males to come and go.

Photo courtesy of Patrick Reynolds


The 2nd breakaway pride that have been in the Trans Mara since September last year have come back over again this month for a matter of a few days only, Jicho one of the 2nd breakaway lionesses was also over in the last week of the month, she was perhaps looking for a male and was seen being mated with two sub adults, these sub adult males were also young and doubtful if Jicho will conceive considering the mating only lasted a few days, the lack of resident pride males is noticeable.

Photo courtesy of Moses Manduku


Whilst the breakaways have been in Mara triangle, guests staying at Little Governors Camp have been enjoying some wonderful sightings of them including one day when a group of them surrounded three rhinos. There was no aggression from either side it was purely a chance amazing encounter.

Photo courtesy of Juergen Stoeffl


The four male musketeers have been seldom seen in the Musiara areas, Scar has been over a few times as far as Paradise Plains and was there on the 26th, 27th and 28th while mating with one of the two lionesses, Sikio, Morani and Hunter have been through as far as the marsh and only stay for perhaps a few days at the most before crossing over into the trans Mara, Hunter on the 28th was with Scar in the lower Paradise Plains regions.

Photo courtesy of Patrick Reynolds


1st breakaway pride member lioness Madomo lost her four cubs on the 18th January to a nomadic male who was also seen this month of February mating with her sister, the marsh sub-Lionesses and Bibi. The other half of the 1st breakaway pride with two lionesses, one sub male called Pengo and four cubs of which two are five months old and two that are six months old, sadly on the 21st early in the morning one of the younger cubs was seen to be chocking perhaps on a bone ? We are not entirely sure what the problem was and subsequently by 8.00am the cub died and was eaten by the two lionesses of that pride, even the other cubs sniffed and picked it up, three of the musketeers were there at the time and all were smelling the dead cub, these four cubs and sub male and female are the offspring of the musketeers.

Photo courtesy of Patrick Reynolds


Three sub-adult males and a sub adult lioness have been seen on Rhino Ridge and Topi Plains, the two larger males were seen mating with 2nd breakaway lioness Jicho in the top end of the marsh, these sub-adult males have come from the Talek area and are likely to be the offspring of the Notch males, it was earlier thought that they were from the Trans Mara yet lion researchers in the Trans Mara are unable to identify them as sub-adult male from the trans Mara environs. Latterly the young male and sub-adult lioness have not been seen together with the two larger males.





Siri the female leopard with her one eight month old male cub are still within the Serena pump house area of the Mara River. The cub is very active still and has habituated himself with vehicles, so much so he walks up to vehicles and poses very well. 



Photo courtesy of Bryan Clark


Romi the female leopard within the BBC camp site area has also been seen regularly and particularly in the evenings. Her male son is being seen quite some distance away from her home range. Both of these two leopard have been hunting Impala and Bushbuck both have been very successful.


The large male leopard is and has been seen near the main crossing point and mortuary crossing point, again this month he tried for Zebra on the 28th that were crossing, he tried to catch a young Zebra but missed.


Another large male leopard is being seen on the lower Talek River and further down and across the river a female is often seen. A female leopard is being seen on the stony crossing near the bottom end of the Olare Orok River, she is being seen daily and is in the same vicinity as Malaika the cheetah.


There is another younger male being seen on the southern woodlands of Paradise Plains, this male is a little shy.





The female cheetah Malaika with her four cubs who are seven months old will be seen daily near the double crossing areas, she is actively feeding off Thompson Gazelles and Impala, on the 10th she tackled and killed a large male impala, after a short chase the impala tired quickly, noticing on the right rear leg of the impala was a swollen knee joint. Soon as the cubs joined in to the kill a hyena turned up and robbed them of the kill. Malaika has killed approximately nearly every third day, she is supporting four cubs that require feeding with this she is very active. Malaika is being photographed by all and being filmed by the BBC with a camera crew stationed all day.

Photo courtesy of Colin Purkis


A male has also been seen in the same area and he is been feeding off Thomson Gazelles, on the 19th and 21st he was seen each time with a Thomson Gazelle kill near the double crossing and also will be seen near the Ngiatiak river.


A young male is also being seen on Rhino Ridge and Paradise Plains, he is becoming much habituated and has been hunting Thompson Gazelle fawns and also females. This male also will be seen in the conservation areas.


An epic battle between a lion and a buffalo


Posted by Shenton Safaris in Animal Encounters .Posted: February 23, 2015


At Kaingo and Mwamba Camps, deep in the South Luangwa National Park, we are lucky enough to share our territory with three separate lion prides. During September 2014 we noticed that one of the prides we know as the Mwamba Pride had one of its two males missing. The male - known as Ringo or Limpy had been seen less and less. He had been behaving strangely and seemed very withdrawn. The last time he was seen with his pride was at a buffalo kill where he just fed and left without any interaction with the other pride members.


A week or so after this he decided to take up residence at Mwamba Bush Camp. In close proximity to fresh water and with a constant stream of plains game coming to drink, it seemed a good place to spend the last of his days. He was also in the heart of the pride's territory and within roaring distance of the rest of the group.


With so many close sightings of Ringo from the Mwamba photographic hide, which is dug into the Mwamba riverbank, it was easy to see that all was not well with this magnificent male. It appeared that he had quite bad mange over his body but also possibly an underlying ailment that was causing him to lose weight rapidly.


This said, within two days of making Mwamba Bush Camp his new home he managed to take down a female buffalo on his own, right in front of our eyes by drowning it in the waterhole at the hide. Unfortunately he was unable to eat much of the half submerged carcass as the fight took too much out of him. Instead he lay beside it guarding his prize for the next few days.


A week later and Ringo was looking weaker and weaker. We heard commotion coming from the direction of the hide. We rushed over to find him hanging from the muzzle of a very much alive female buffalo. The rest of the herd watched closely from a short distance, occasionally coming in close enough to assist their comrade. What followed over the next few hours can only be described as an epic battle between two gladiators fighting to the death.


The drama took place in the same way you would see two heavyweight boxers fighting for the world title. After three minute bouts both titans would stand and stare at each other, out of breath, each waiting for the other to make the next move.


After each interval it was evident both fighters were getting weaker and weaker. At one point both Ringo and the buffalo were so exhausted, he just lay under her bleeding nose licking the blood like Energade.


After an hour and a half and into round ten with the buffalo barely on her feet and the lion hugging her with his locked claws the referee came in to intervene.


A very large bull buffalo charged in and attempted to scoop Ringo up with his horns to gore him to death and put an end to the fight. It was amazing to see how Ringo managed to evade most of these fatal blows by lying flat against the earth, making it very difficult for the bull to get the curve of his horns under his body. However a couple of blows were landed and at least one or two real cracking sounds came from the lion's rib cage as bones were snapped.


This had the effect of keeping the lion down which allowed the severely weakened female buffalo to re-join her herd. With that the battered lion warrior managed to drag himself under a bush. By now the dust had settled and the sun had dropped below the horizon. He had taken a terrible beating and we all thought he would surely soon depart this world.


However Ringo's story had one more chapter. Like any true king he was not quite done. Early the following morning, not far from Mwamba Camp, he summoned his awesome strength again and took down an impala. He had recovered enough to make one last effort to survive and showed very little sign of the epic encounter of the previous day. This just shows the strength and power of the magnificent beasts and their instinct to survive against all odds.


Two days after this extraordinary sighting unfortunately Ringo passed away due to his illness and his injuries.



Loldia House News February 2015


6 March, 2015


February has had a tiny bit of rain but it still continues to be hot and dry. All the animals are finding conditions tough and the Lake is slowly receding.


There have been some good Leopard sightings - Guest's having dinner one evening, when there was a Leopard on the outside of the fence, said no one would believe them if they told them that they got up from dinner to see a Leopard. Leopard have also been seen along the Lake road and on one occasion we watched a Leopard stalking some young Impala but the Impala got wind of the Leopard and took off.


As mentioned Maradadi - the beautiful rat catching cat disappeared. Loldia now has Bahati (Lucky in Swahili) who has come from the local branch of KSPCA to take her place. Ginger is furious and puffs himself up to twice his size!!


Scotty is slightly dismayed as he thought he had only had to content with one unfriendly cat. Actually I think Bahati will not be unkind to Scotty - she is a very sweet and affectionate black and white.


Manager Heather and the guides took a day trip to Lake Bogoria. They left at 05.00 a.m. with a picnic breakfast and lunch to do a recce of Lake Bagoria. We stopped at the Equator Line for breakfast. The Driver's were fascinated watching the water going down the plug hole on the different sides of the Equator and then going straight down on the Equator.


We arrived at Lake Borgoria at 09.20 am. From Loldia House to the Lake is a 4 hour journey. With the lake road being a bit rough at the moment we recommend guests fly in to Loldia House.


Bogoria is beautiful - much bigger than Lake Nakuru. The back drop of the Laikipia escarpment adds to its beauty.


The water has not receded very much so a lot of the original road is still impassable or under water. The County Council has built a new road to as far as the Fig Tree Camp site (we didn't get that far - ran out of time). The road is not bad at all but quite a way up from the Lake so if one does want to take photographs of the Water Birds or Flamingo one has to scramble over rocks to get to the water's edge. There were quite a number or flamingos on the far side of the lake.


It was hot but we were lucky enough to see 1 Ostrich, both species of Dik Dik, 1 Impala, 1 Grant's Gazelle, Squirrels, an enormous Python and amazingly 11 Greater Kudu.


The surrounding area of the Lake is dry but the Desert Rose flower was in bloom which were beautiful. Our trip round the Lake got us as far as the Hot Springs - driving there and back to the County Head Quarters - where we had our lunch - took us 4 hours - admittedly we did stop often to take photographs. We left Bogoria at 14.30 pm and back at Loldia at 18.29! A long day but certainly worth it.


My recommendations for anyone going to Bogoria is to leave really early, take masses of sun cream, a hat, cool clothes and a good camera with good lens. My camera is only a happy snapper but I still managed some reasonable snaps.



Treating Africa's tuskers

Posted by David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust in Animal Encounters, Poaching


There are fewer than 100 great tuskers estimated to be left across Africa so when the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust and KWS Mobile Veterinary Unit successfully treated three injured elephants in a 36 hour period last week - they were, in fact, arguably saving 3% of the tusker population.


The first elephant was spotted by our Aerial Surveillance Pilot on a routine afternoon aerial patrol with a huge poison arrow wound on his side. With nightfall fast approaching, our Aerial Team coordinated with our Mobile Veterinary Unit to treat the tusker the next morning and the next day our pilot was airborne and in search of the injured tusker.


With elephants roaming up to 80km a day, the race was on to find him before the poison could enter his blood stream, leading to an agonising and slow death. But whilst in the air, our pilot spotted a further two massive bulls, each hit with poisoned arrows. Noting their GPS position, our teams now had three tuskers to treat, all in thick bush.


The first in line for treatment was the third bull that had been spotted. Heading out to where he had been sighted, our DSWT/KWS Vet Unit led by Dr Poghorn and our nearby Anti-Poaching Team soon found him, darted him and set to work to remove the bull's poisoned and dead flesh.


After a swift operation, the bull was up on his feet and the team moved to treat the second sighted bull who had moved into the open. A well-aimed dart by Dr Poghorn caused the bull to go down, and another quick operation saw Dr Poghon remove a bent poisoned arrow from the large wound. Soon the bull was assisted to his feet and on his way.


Silent but deadly, all three tuskers were attacked with poisoned arrows, which can slowly kill an elephant depending on the freshness of the poison, the location of the arrow and how deeply it penetrates.


Thanks to rapid treatment all three are expected to make a full recovery, but spotting injured animals early is key and locating any animal in the vastness of the Kenyan bush is the first hurdle.




Cheryl Lyn Dybas

"Would the animals be able to go on living here? We had already noticed that large herds of wildebeest roamed outside the present boundaries of the park. No one knows where the hundreds of thousands of hooves will march. We were filled with fear and foreboding." Bernhard and Michael Grzimek, Serengeti Shall Not Die, 1959.


A blood red dawn spills across the savanna in Tanzania's Serengeti National Park. The first hoofbeats drum in the distance. Soon a sea of swishing tails and dust obscures the horizon as hundreds, then hundreds of thousands of wildebeest thunder north toward Kenya's Masai Mara and greener grasses.


In the wake of monsoonal rains, some 1.3 million wildebeest and 200,000 zebras cycle through the Serengeti every year. It's a widescreen drama spiced with life, death, and attackers in the shadows. Wildebeest that make it across the Tanzania-Kenya line reach a promised land: newly verdant pastures. A minefield, however, awaits south of the border - wire snares set by villagers illegally hunting bushmeat as the animals pass through their settlements. 


Males like this one are more often snared because they move ahead of the herd, but this leaves females to reproduce and so far has kept wildebeest population numbers up. İCraig Packer.


Confiscated snares which are commonly used by villagers to catch wildebeest. İNorbert Guthier


The "great migration" is the target of hunting for bushmeat


Before the formation of game reserves and national parks, subsistence hunting was a legitimate means of survival for locals. But today such hunting is a threat to wildebeest and other migratory species, say scientists Dennis Rentsch of the Frankfurt Zoological Society- Africa and Craig Packer of the University of Minnesota.

The migration's predictability makes for easy targets for villagers in the western Serengeti, Rentsch and Packer report in a recent issue of the peer-reviewed scientific journal Oryx. Wildebeest - as well as zebras, Thomson's gazelles and other grazing animals that trail behind - run the gauntlet.

The study was conducted in villages on the edge of the Serengeti's Ikorongo and Grumeti Game Reserves and Ikona Wildlife Management Area. The game reserves and wildlife management area serve as buffer zones between human activity and Serengeti National Park. But the biologists state that communities along these boundaries, "are the major source of illegal wildlife hunters in the region."


The researchers collected dietary recall data from eight villages in the Serengeti and Bunda districts to the west of Serengeti National Park. These districts, they say, have the highest levels of bushmeat hunting in the Serengeti ecosystem. The villages were selected randomly, with the requirement that no two villages border each other.


Four sub-villages were chosen from each village, and four to five households from each sub-village. Over 34 months, some 132 households were visited. Dietary recall questionnaires requested information on meat-based protein sources cooked and consumed each day during the previous week.


As the dry season takes hold of northern Tanzania in April, the wildebeest begin migrating north towards Kenya and greener pastures. İDaniel Rosengren


How methods of assessing bushmeat hunting are compared: 



Scientist Eli Knapp of Houghton College in Houghton, New York, and colleagues compared that method of assessing bushmeat hunting with two others. Two of the methods involve household interviews, while the third depends on data collected by anti- poaching enforcement officers.


One household interview method is based on a self-assessment of poaching activity; respondents are asked to admit to hunting for bushmeat. In the other - dietary recall of bushmeat consumption, which Rentsch and Packer used - participants report on what they've recently eaten. The strength of the dietary recall method, researchers have found, is that it decreases participants' fears of responding truthfully, especially when bushmeat consumption is asked about on a list of other food sources such as fish. 


The results were contrasted with those from the enforcement method: the total number of arrests from anti-poaching patrols.


Along with over 1 million wildebeest, some 200,000 zebras move through the Serengeti each year. İDaniel Rosengren.


Estimates are that tens of thousands of wildebeest vanish each year 


Rentsch's and Packer's results are a first look at wildebeest offtake based on direct measures of household consumption. The numbers were highest during or immediately after months when migratory wildlife species passed through the study area.

The scientists estimate that significant numbers of wildebeest, on the order of tens of thousands, vanish each year. The losses are higher than those derived from past ecological models. Those models, the biologists say, were based on wildebeest population data for 1992-93. At the time, around 370,000 people lived in the western Serengeti; in 2010, it was 600,000. By 2050, it may be 940,000. 


Africa's human population is expected to quadruple by 2100 


One billion people currently tread on African ground. "Before the end of the century,


Africa's human population is expected to quadruple," Packer says. "Tanzania alone could reach 200 million. It had less than 10 million in the late 1950s when the Grzimeks wrote Serengeti Shall Not Die." 


As the number of people goes up, the demand for bushmeat increases. The mean consumption of bushmeat between 2007 and 2010 was 2.2 to 2.8 meals per household per week, the new findings show. What will happen if that intensity continues?

To date, the situation hasn't reached a point of no return. The Serengeti wildebeest population, it's believed, is faring well at this time. But there's more to the story than meets the eye, says ecologist Grant Hopcraft of the University of Glasgow, who also conducts research on Serengeti wildebeest.

The explanation for why the population seems healthy when so many wildebeest are being taken, Rentsch and Packer say, and Hopcraft also suggests, may be that most wildebeest caught are males, leaving females to reproduce and keep population numbers up.

"The demand for protein needs to be met" 


"Males spend more time in woodlands," says Rentsch, "while females and young are mostly on the plains, where there are fewer places to attach snares." And males are the front-runners, adds Hopcraft, the first to leave one area and arrive in another - and be caught. 


Poaching data from the Ikorongo and Grumeti Game Reserves show a 1.5-to-1 male-to- female ratio of wildebeest caught, Rentsch says, and studies in other locations near the Serengeti indicate a ratio of 14-to-4.

The bottom line, state Rentsch and Packer, is that "wildebeest offtake cannot remain


sustainable if communities continue to grow at an exponential rate and the per capita demand for bushmeat remains at the current level." 


In sync with the results, Tanzania National Parks warden William Mwakilema maintains that "one of the biggest challenges in managing wildebeest and other wildlife is poaching for bushmeat, which has advanced from a subsistence to a commercial level."

Packer agrees. "It will be important to keep a watchful eye on the status of the Serengeti wildebeest population." 


Is there another source of protein for villagers near the Serengeti? Freshwater fish from Lake Victoria are available year-round. But what that means for wildebeest and bushmeat hunting is unclear.

"Lake Victoria's fish are also at risk from commercial fishing operations and increasing demands on the lake as a freshwater resource," says Rentsch. "Should the fish stocks fail, it remains to be seen what would in turn happen to Serengeti wildlife." 


Freshwater fish may be little more than a finger in the dike of wildebeest losses: the farthervillagers live from Lake Victoria, the less fish and more bushmeat they already consume. "The demand for protein," Rentsch says, "needs to be met." 

İDaniel Rosengren


What lies on the Serengeti horizon?


"These findings give a glimpse of the darkest cloud that lingers on the horizon for the survival of the migration, the Serengeti and all conservation areas in Africa: our never- ending need for more land, more water, more natural resources," says Markus Borner, an ecologist at the University of Glasgow who has long studied the Serengeti.


Are wildebeest, gazelles and other species - such as the lions, leopards and cheetahs that depend on herbivores for food - doomed? Hopefully not, say the researchers. 

A precarious drop into the unknown. İYulia Sundukova


Bushmeat is the cheapest, most readily available source of protein


The task is convincing starving people to spare wildlife, says Rentsch, "when a high poverty rate is coupled with a high human population density - and access to one of the world's largest intact wildlife migrations, hungry humans will likely continue to rely on bushmeat, the cheapest, most readily available source of protein."


Adds Mwakilema, "We need comprehensive and enforceable land use plans, as well as a study to determine livelihoods other than bushmeat as a major source of food and income."


Ecologists are working to alleviate the pressure on wildebeest by helping communities develop alternatives, according to Rentsch. Chicken farming and beekeeping are becoming profitable and conservation-compatible businesses, he says. "The challenge is scaling this up to the magnitude of the bushmeat hunting pressure."


If the wildebeest population dies out, zebras and gazelles may in turn fall, lying in a snare- line boneyard baked clean in the Serengeti sun.