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Aug 21st, 2004, 03:27 PM
  #1
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Just Back!

Fellow Fodorites:

Just returned from the most fantastic Kenyan safari of six I have taken! Will try to outline some of the highlights, probably in three sections so as not to get too wordy. I must admit I was on an adrenaline rush almost the whole time.

Flew out of Boston on Thursday 7-29 and arrived Nairobi 7-30, with no trouble getting to the airport (as Susan assured me) due to the Democratic National Convention. Spent two nights at the Holiday Inn (simply so I could go on the first complete day and visit some of the elephant orphans I have adopted in Nairobi National Park).

On Sunday 8-1 I flew to Mombasa. Was picked up and driven to the Tamarind Village condo complex where I was again installed in another beautiful condo. Spent a quiet evening on the veranda overlooking the harbor and watching the beautiful sunset.

The next morning I was picked up and driven to Tsavo East National Park - Satao Camp. Was greeted by the Camp Manager and the rest of the staff. The manager had half jokingly bought me a wooden whistle to blow if I saw any snakes this time (had seen deadly snakes on three previous visits). I got settled into my suite tent (much larger than the rest of the tents and they have a refrigerator and fan). Since it was still the dry season there were many of my elephants at the borehole. The second day at Tsavo was also perfect with many elephants keep me busy videoing. The weather was perfect at this time of year in Tsavo. Not hot and muggy as usual but warm enough for just a light blanket at night. On the third day my driver walked up to my tent to ask if I would be going on the 4 p.m. game drive. As he left I heard him yell something to the gardener who was watering the new grass. Guess what folks!! Another snake. This one was poisonous but not deadly - a link-marked snake. Just causes hemorrhaging and lymphadenitis (swelling of the lymph glands). They killed it. That evening we saw a huge buffalo that had been killed by lions the previous evening and two of them were lazily sleeping near the carcas. One lion guarding the kill had the most beautiful lion face I have ever seen. Hope my films turn out on this one.

Thursday my driver drove me to Voi to see some more of my adopted baby elephants. When we got there one of the former orphans who has been living wild for 8 or 9 years was at the waterhole with her two wildborn babies. She left for the bush. The keepers told us where to stand in order to watch the orphans come up the road returning from playing in the wild. I was standing on a stone wall waiting when suddenly everyone was yelling "Run, Run, Run"! I started running downhill on gravel, not knowing from what I was running, when I tripped and fell on my right knee and elbow. When I started getting up someone grabbed me and pulled me under the eletric fence. When I asked what I was running from they turned me around and I came face to face with Lissa and her two calfs. She apparently had not gone into the bush afterall but sneaked around the back of the stockades and had charged me!!! I asked my driver how close she was to getting me and he about about three feet away. Don't know if the fact that I fell had any impact on why she stopped the charge. Luckily I wasn't hurt and because I didn't know what I had been running from I wasn't scared.

The BBC is spending about 10 months with the Sheldrick Wildlife Trust filming all the orphans in Nairobi, Voi and Ithumba. They were in Voi at the time I got charged, so I will write Daphne Sheldrick and find out if the BBC cameras were going at the time. If so, I would love to see the 20 - 30 seconds of my being charged.

The next day I spent filming eles. at the borehole. I went into my tent and sat on the bed to write in my journal when I heard the birds squawking in the bushes in the adjacent tent. I asked the gardener if it might be a snake agitating them. He looked and at first didn't see anything. As the birds continued their ruckus he looked again. I then heard a whack, whack, whack and got up and looked and he had just killed a hissing cobra!. Everyone was fine - no injuries.

However, this does point out that in different places in Kenya there are different dangers. Tsavo does have a lot of snakes. As long as you watch where you are walking and listen to the birds and the monkeys (who often give warning) you will probably be alright. I have a funny feeling that the snakes in Tsavo are probably trying to get to a cool and/or damp place. They have been in the bush or nyika in the heat for so long that they try to find shade. The tents are surrounded by large Tamarind trees and of course the roofs are makuti over the tent which again provides shade. I have been told in several places that snakes also like to get under tents between the tent floor and the foundations - so don't go picking up tents without being prepared.

Even though the two snake episodes and being charged could have been serious, we were all able to laugh about them after the fact knowing that all was well. As I said, an adrenaline rush!

Part II will be coming up later.

Jan

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Aug 21st, 2004, 03:39 PM
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Welcome back, Jan!!! Please do not take offense to this, but I will not travel with you to Kenya. You are a magnet for snakes!!! On a serious note, glad you are home and cannot wait to read more of your reports. While in Kenya, did you hear any discussion about private industry taking over the national parks and the potential for big game hunting. There has been quite a bruhaha here about it. If you are more piped in to the happenings in Kenya than many people here, so we would appreciate anything you may have heard about it. Again, welcome back. You were missed!
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Aug 21st, 2004, 04:14 PM
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Part II - Samburu - Elephant Watch Camp

After leaving Tsavo I flew back to Nairobi and spent one night. Then on Sunday, 8-8 I was taken to Wilson Airport where I boarded Air Kenya to Samburu. We stopped at Lewa Downs first to let off some passengers and could see both rhinos and giraffe on takeoff. The next stop was Samburu, just a short distance from Lewa. Was met at the airstrip by Elephant Watch Safari's Alfred and Sumaro. Started the drive into camp. Many, many elephants came within 5' of our vehicle. What a thrill. Then drove to the Uaso Nyiro riverbank and see a young male and female lion, again about 5 - 6' from the vehicle. What a rush! Then we spotted a man walking from the river and it turns out he was a safari driver who got stuck in the sand of the riverbank. We tried getting him out but we too got stuck. We finally got ourselves out and his passengers were taken to their camp until his van could be gotten out of the sand. We arrived at camp and were greeted by wonderful, charming Oria Douglas-Hamilton. For those who don't know, Iain is the gentleman who started research on elephants back in the early 1960's at Lake Manyara in Tanzania. He has created save-the-elephant.org. He has been collaring elephants for many years tracking where they go and learning all he can from them. Oria has been by Iain's side all these years.

Elephant Watch Camp is utterly fantastic and everyone who can should spend at least three nights there. Oria designed the entire camp herself. She decorated everything herself. There are many downed and dead trees in Samburu and these trees were used to make all kinds of one-of-a-kind furniture including sofas, chairs, tables and beds! She designed the shape and size of all the tents. These are not standard square or rectangular tents. Some are round, others other shapes. Instead of a plain canvas tent ceiling, part is canvas and part is like a mesh window. They sit under marula (similar to makuti) roofing.

The dining hall (mess tent) is gorgeous. Very high ceilings with silk streamers or banners running down to the poles. There is a large area to sit and relax or chat on sofas piled high with pillows of all kinds and shapes. There is a large library of books and videos and wildlife books on almost every table. A small bar is also on this side of the dining room. On the other side is a table with small objects one may purchase if one wishes. I got a beautiful sterling silver arm bracelet with a beautiful raised elephant. There are kikois and kangas as well as other objects. The dining table is again the base of a tree with a large circular glass atop. All the guests join Oria and Iain every night as they host dinner and lively conversation. Elephant Watch Camp has only five tents, so a maximum of 10 guests can be delightfully entertained. Oria is of Italian origin. She manages all the menus and cooking, and is it delicious! What a talented lady!

On game drives we saw many reticulated giraffe, impala, gerenuk, many elephants and finally I saw my first leopard! I have seen more up close in three days in Samburu than I have in five previous trips to Kenya. I saw giraffes necking (had only seen it on TV before), saw lions mating (only on TV before). Utterly fantastic.

We watched as one elephant mourned the death of a friend who died last October. It was incredible. If anyone thinks these animals do not have emotions, I will strongly disagree. The elephant walked in acting totally normally. Then she started sniffing the exact spot where the elephant had died and just stood there for quite a long while with her trunk hanging and inactive and she actually looked sad. I am confident she was remembering her old friend. I had read about events like this in Joyce Poole's book, Cynthia Moss's book and indeed Iain's book but I still had some doubt in my mind. That doubt has now been erased. Luckily I got most of this on video tape so I will remember it fondly forever.

A short time later we were sitting in the vehicle on the banks of the Uaso Nyiro River watching a herd of eles. down below drinking. Alfred and Sumaro told me to watch what would happen next. Another family, a more dominant one, approached from the back right side of our vehicle. The matriach trumpeted loudly and the eles. already at the river ran up the bank to the left side of our vehicle. We were now totally surrounded by approximately 30 - 40 eles. trumpeting and rumbling back and forth! Remember, these eles. know Iain and his staff very well and aren't at all afraid of them. I was so excited trying to video, dropping the video camera and grabbing my 35 mm., then getting some more video. It was unbelievable. They were close enough to touch!!! Eventually after many trumpets and rumbles, the more dominant group forced the other group, which had already been at the water, away and lead her family down to the river.

We sat and watched for a long time a Mama ele. trying to teach her younster how to use both teeth, trunk and tusks while pulling branches of trees down. It was super.

Then, Alfred and Sumaro had been telling me of one ele. who was so sweet that she would walk right up to them. Sumaro is a Samburu warrior and wears the usual Samburu clothes and headbands. The Samburu love to put silk flowers in their headbands. This young ele. would walk right up to the vehicle and reach out for Sumaro's flowers on his headband, and Sumaro would have to lean back into the vehicle so she couldn't get the flowers. Well, we were sitting watching many eles. when the above lovely ele. came out of the trees with a piece of blanket on her head! At dinner other guests told us they had seen this stuck on a tree. It was if she was saying to Sumaro, "you can wear adornments on your head and so can I". It was really funny to see. After a minute or so she put her trunk up and took it off.

Meeting Oria and Iain was a thrill in itself for me. I had many of my questions about elephants answered by Iain and was able to visit Save-the-Elephants office about four miles down the road from the camp.

The weather in Samburu was similar to Tsavo. Very comfortable, one light blanket weather.

If you have only three days to spend in Kenya, spend them at Elephant Watch Camp. You will never regret it.

Jan
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Aug 21st, 2004, 04:40 PM
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Hi Jan, thanks for the Ele stories. You know I love them also. I am leaving soon. Must say though. A little throubled about all the snake killing.
I would not like that at all. Would want them taken else where.Is that possible? They keep certain things in check also.
None the less, thanks.
Again I wish we were able to post pics on this site.
david
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Aug 21st, 2004, 05:11 PM
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Part III - Amboseli

Afer the excitement of Tsavo and Samburu I figured my "home away from home" would be quite dull and unexciting.

I stayed as usual at Ol Tukai Lodge. I thought it was near perfect before, but you should see the many improvements. New walkway or boardwalk to reception, new brick pavement for driveway, new swimming pool, and many, many other improvements. The management has done a fantastic job. Remember, this lodge was built only in 1996 to replace the old bandas. Since Block Hotels couldn't keep it up, Ol Tukai is now back in the hands of the architect who created it and what positive things he is doing! The best part of this lodge is its wonderful, caring staff.

I found out that the "new" Sopa Lodge is outside the park and is the former Buffalo Lodge.

To any of you considering Amboseli, I would suggest at least two nights and I would definitely advise Ol Tukai Lodge. I have been to the Serena and it really isn't in a very pretty area at all. Tortillis has a great reputation, but again not a very pretty area. In both of these lodges you have to drive into the main swamp area to see the animals anyway, so you might as well stay at Ol Tukai, a very attractive area, and see all the animals from your room.

This being our summer, all the lodges and camps were full almost all the time with families enjoying their holidays together. I told everyone now they would have to stop blaming the US and UK for their travel decline since things were on the upswing again (admittedly mostly Europeans).

The weather at Amboseli again surprised me. It would be delightful from about 10 a.m. until about 5 p.m. Wore shorts and sleeveless blouse all day long. However, about 5 p.m. a cold wind would start to blow off Kilimanjaro and from that time on you would need a heavy sweater, sweatshirt or fleece jacket. Also, at night I used an extra blanket folded in half on top of the regular blanket. Remember, the lodges and tents aren't air tight like our homes. Anyone planning a trip between now and November should definitely take a warm sweatshirt or fleece with them.

For Liz - we had a mini-migration in Amboseli. I have never seen so many wildebeests and zebra. You would have loved it.

However, one day we saw a hyena who had already obviously eaten attack the behind of a zebra. Her buttocks were eaten away. Later in the day the zebra was down but trying to get up. Wish I had had a gun to put her out of her misery. The next morning the vultures were there and all that was left was the skin of the neck.

We saw a Mama lion and her five cubs eating a zebra they had killed during the night in the swamp. When they finished they all went to lie down and rest. Then a herd of about 30 - 40 eles appeared and would not walk any further until the lioness and her babies had moved.

There weren't nearly as many eles. this time as there are in January-February. We saw many hippos in the swamp and enjoyed watching them cavort. We watched as a large herd of zebra were drinking at a waterhole when some Maasai herding their cattle into the park chased all the zebra away so the cattle could drink.

Someone in Kenya really needs to do something about the Maasai in the Kilimanjaro area. The government built them their own pipeline so they could water their livestock, and they deliberately broke it so they would have an excuse to go back into the park.

Last Tuesday the elephant researchers found a Mama elephant who had been speared 7 times by the Maasai. Five of the spears had already fallen out. Two were still deeply embedded in her skull and bent in half (I doubt very much that they were thrown by a 14 year old moran - must have been a much stronger man). They called the veterinarian in, and the ele. was darted. Four men couldn't pull the spears from her skull. They were embedded 8 - 10" deep!! They had to use a "spanner" to knock it loose! There is absolutely no excuse for this type of barbarism. And no, I have no pity for the Maasai. They knew when they built their manyattas there over the last 10 years that the eles. went there nightly. They claim eles. kill their cattle - why is it then that you never, never see an elephant killing cattle, zebra, wildebeest or anything else in the park, and yet they kill outside the park? Maasai yelling at, throwing at or otherwise scaring the eles?

The next day I went out with the researchers trying to find the above elephant. We couldn't find her, but found her family. While watching the family, the researcher disovered that two of them had also been speared! She called the veterinarian who was on his way back to Tsavo East and had him return. I was lucky enough to be with them and in the vehicle with the vet. when he darted this second female. As soon as she started falling down the rest of her family was chased away, ropes were placed around her neck and she was pulled onto her side (if eles. stay lying on their chests their lungs will collapse). The vet. explained to me that it was not an anesthetic but an immobilizer - the ele. is awake and can hear and see, she just can't move. Thus everyone tried to do their job as quietly and quickly as possible. The vet. dug into the wound and cleaned out as much pus as possible and then added some antibiotic and a drain. I was kept busy taking pictures with the researchers camera for them and my own 35 mm. and my video camera. Got some good pictures on video and I hope the 35 mm. also turn out well.

If any of you cares about elephants half as much as I do, it is letter writing time again. We didn't succeed with our last batch of letters, but when and if my pictures of the female with the spears in her head turn out, I will submit them to the Kenya newspapers with an article "Is this How You Want the World to Remember Kenya?"
Perhaps if enough Kenyans, who often do not get to see wildlife as we do, see it and are shocked and horrifed by it as I was, maybe they will start putting pressure on their own government to finally do something.

Unfortunately KWS doesn't seem to know what they are doing at this point. When the first ele. with the spears in her head was found, the researchers called Nairobi and asked for more KWS help. They were sent to Amboseli and were told by the KWS rangers at Amboseli that "no elephants have been speared" and they went back to Nairobi. It wasn't until pictures of the elephant were sent to Nairobi that finally people started listening.

Everyone at Amboseli was talking about the possible privitization of KWS and all were very upset and angry about their legacy for their people being sold to the highest bidder so to speak. However, in the Nation of 8-19-04 the board of KWS has axed the board chairman in his "controversial bid to privitize KWS" and has also
"reprimanded" Evans Mukolwe who is the Director of KWS. We will still need to be vigilent about this in the future, but I think a lot of Kenyans are very much aware of what would happen if privitization takes place and don't want to see this happen.

Other than the sad events in Amboseli, (though exciting for me to be able to take part in the rescue), it was the most thrilling of my six trips. At the airport layover in Amsterdam I already started working on January/February trip!

I'll take my film to be processed tomorrow and hopefully will have some posted on Ofoto within a week or so.

Thanks all for your thoughts and welcome back.

Jan
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Aug 21st, 2004, 05:22 PM
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Dave:

Just read your message. I understand your concern for the snakes. However, unless you have a herpetologist or an expert on hand who knows how to safely remove them and also has antivenin on hand it is best to do away with them when unknowing people are around. There are so many in Kenya. I never saw one in Samburu, but I was told that one of the warriors that I met had been bitten several months ago by a cobra. They immediately applied compression dressings and drove him to Intrepids Camp where they apparently have an infirmary with antivenin on hand. Luckily for this young man, he survived. However, many Africans die each year by accidentally stepping on snakes.

I am not trying to scare anyone. Just please be aware of your surroundings as you walk, particularly in Tsavo or Samburu with their hot climates.

I have noticed over my six trips that most safari goers walk around like they are in a zoo and perfectly safe from all dangers. They are totally unaware of possible dangers. They don't stay on the paths as they are told and will walk right up to an electric fence with elephants and buffalo on the other side. They are just inviting tragedy.

It behooves all of us to remember that we are in the animals territory and it is our responsibility to watch out for them, not the other way around. If everyone uses good judgment all should be well.

Jan
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Aug 21st, 2004, 07:43 PM
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Wow Jan-
Sounds like you had a very interesting and incredible trip.

I had heard you witnessed the elephant w/ the spears and wondered how you must have felt at the time.

What a shame the Maasai don't appreciate or know what they have. I really hope things turn around for the eles in Kenya. It is their world and they belong there.

Keep us posted on the writing campaign. I'll do whatever I can to help!
Welcome home!
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Aug 21st, 2004, 09:01 PM
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Jan

Just wanted to say that
I have followed your posts for over a year and am thrilled by them!
i leave for my honeymoon and first trip to africa in 36 days....
thank you for your insight and generous sharings here.

i can't be the only one who feels enlightened by your honest and open recounts of your excursions.

all the best, tg
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Aug 21st, 2004, 11:04 PM
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Jan,

Thank you for that very moving trip report. You are a true champion for the welfare of the Elephants in Kenya.

Although you were not scared when you were running from some unknown animal, I was scared for you! I think I would have needed a change of underwear and a stiff drink after such an episode!

I must be very soft, because I would have been freaked out by the snakes, although there was a Mozambiquen Spitting Cobra in camp at the neighboring tent when I was at Kulefu Tented Camp in the Lower Zambezi a couple months ago. I watched every step after that and I am lucky I didn't walk right into a hippo since I was hesitant to look more than 10 feet ahead of me after that!

Nice feedback on Ol Tukai. Although Tortilis seems like it is the best place to go just from the websites available, there is nothing more valuable than first hand reports. I am very strongly considering an East Africa trip next August, and Amboseli and, now, Ol Tukai will probably be on my itinerary. How were the views of Kiliminjaro during your visit?

Thanks again for a great report and I can hardly wait for some photos.

If any other past visitors of East Africa have an online photo album, please post a link so I may have a look. THANKS!
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Aug 22nd, 2004, 02:52 AM
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Hi Jan, I was wondering if you were going to mention the masai mob! I am getting mail from Angela Sheldrick and your other freind in Amboseli. Soila I think her name is. I have been up on the trouble there. Jan, what I would like to do is. Spread the word as far as possible that the Masai are nothing but trouble makers and a mob now.
They are not what people think they are. Just because they wear that bright red, and from a tribe in East Africa. They are not anything special. I have no respect for them at all. Even my first night in Amboseli in 2001 at the public camp site. I knew then. I had a funny feeling about them. What can we do to spread the word to travelers. To visit East Africa for the landscape & her wildlife. Maybe the other tribes, not the masai. Thats all you hear about is the masai causing all this sickness.
Keep me posted ok!!!!!
I have given to the MOBLIE VETS UNIT of Sheldrick's. Along with the DE-SNARING TEAMS & MY ADOPTED BABY TSAVO.I expect to see him soon.Thank you for turning me on to that.
David
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Aug 22nd, 2004, 03:02 AM
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Hi Rocco, here is a link to my pages. Where I have most of my pics. Still have hundreds more I didn't put. There are stories, discpriptions ect.
I have a page for:
ZIMBABWE, VIC FALLS, HWANGE PARK, MASAI MARA, LAKE NAKURU, TSAVO EAST & WEST, AMBOSELI, AFRICA. I think thats it as far as that stuff goes.

Enjoy, if you take a look.
David
ps, just click away on the pages and tabs.
http://www.virtualtourist.com/m/1e53c/
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Aug 22nd, 2004, 03:59 AM
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Hi, sorry about the spelling 2 posts back. (I have given to the MOBLIE VETS)
Mobile Vets Unit.
Thanks, David
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Aug 22nd, 2004, 05:07 AM
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Jan - Welcome Home!

This sure was an event-filled trip. Thought I was the only person who hadn't seen a leopard till my 5th trip to Africa. More snakes, of course, so along with SusanLynne, we'll stay somewhere else other then in your company. Are you sure they don't know you're coming to visit? LOL! Thankfully, I've never seen but a small non-poisonous and a dead momba - but that was enough for me.

Recall when Ol Tukai opened, there were raves about the place, but then seemed to change with Block's ownership. Glad to hear the original builder has taken it back and brining the place up to the old standards. A good alternative in the Amboseli area.

Most upsetting to hear of the continued spearing of the ellees; something should be done about this or maybe the KWS should take the herds from the Masaai as punishment/payment for the damage they cause. The Masai herds are their currency - something to consider.

Elephant Watch sounds wonderful - an alternative to Amboseli depending of ones itinerary. Great input regarding how the camp is set-up. Granted more costly, but I personally like the Samburu area very much.

You tales are better than listening/seeing these stories on National Geo. You bring the reader right in there with you, that you can actually see the "kills" and an ellee weeping over a dead friend. Thanks you so much for these first-hand reports - picturing that ellee with the headband, so smart.

Glad to have you home safe, even if with scraped knees and elbows. Looking forward to seeing your pictures. Thanks for your "up-close-and-personal" experiences.

 
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Aug 22nd, 2004, 07:07 AM
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Thanks to all for the kind comments. They are much appreciated.

Divewop - My feelings at the Maasai were nothing but downright anger at seeing what they had done and furious with the Kenyan government that they hadn't acted on this in previous years. They seem to be afraid of dealing with the Maasai! In fact the Maasai refused to talk with KWS. They insisted on talking with Soila, Cynthia Moss's manager, in Maa dialect. She had to speak with them and then translate into Swahili for the KWS rangers!(I've said all along that the Kenyan women should run the country. They work so very hard and often the men just sit around shooting the bull. The women have had to be organized and responsible all their lives to help their families survive. I'm doing my best to convince some of them to run for office).

Rocco - Didn't need either the change of underwear or a strong drink. It makes me think I'm either very stupid or tougher than I had realized, LOL. Had to chuckle about your looking directly in front of you when walking. I used to do that also but now scan far and wide so I'll see something beore I get close. Often a guide would try to point something out to me and when I finally saw it I realized that again I was looking much too close. My Samburu guides taught me to scan 12 - 3 o'clock and then 12 - 9 o'clock from the vehicle. It really does help finding any irregularities in your vision (small ears sticking up from high grass, etc).

Dave - The only way we can get this changed is from within the government itself. If enough people threaten to stop coming and leaving their money in Kenya, things will eventually change. The government's lack of protection for its wildlife and its people is deplorable.

Sandi - While I was in Amboseli there were two local election days. The drivers had been forbidden to take anyone to the Maasai villages then because there is often rioting among the natives. Wonder how it would be if all drivers were forbidden to take people for 2 - 4weeks? The Maasai would sure feel that deeply in their pocketbooks! However, I don't think the drivers would comply with the order because they get commissions from the curio shops and village trips. I like your idea though. For every elephant speared in the park, one cow will be taken by the government from each and every local family. Perhaps then the village elders and villagers not involved will run the dastardly bastards out! I'll send your suggestion to Soila and Norah and see if they can move it along to KWS and the government.

Thanks so much everyone. Love your feedback comments. They do help to sort thoughts out in this aging brain!

Jan
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Aug 22nd, 2004, 09:38 AM
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Jan, what an excellent trip report.

You are "very tough" to not be scared when you were running because I know if someone told me to run I would be scared!

Lucky you to see so many elephants. And giraffes necking - how wonderful. I can't wait to see your pictures.

Regarding the spearing of the elles by the Masaii, I posted a link to this awhile back. http://www.hoothollow.com/TripUpdateDeathintheMara.html It's about the Masaii killing a lion that had killed a cow. I don't know how often this happens but you witnessed it and the MacDonald's witnessed it. Very sad.

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Aug 22nd, 2004, 11:41 AM
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Did someone say Giraffe Necking. If interested. Here is one pic.
There was a lot of LION KILLINGS in the NAIROBI PARK and in the area of the PARK. That was many many months ago. Some of the LIONS where killed for the teeth. I don't know if they ever found out who was doing this. That park has hardly any LIONS to begin with. Some of the locals were upset with the LIONS. Not for nothing, but wouldn't it be better to have a small handful of smelly goats & cows. Have more cash instead? Everything is getting pushed!
What a day it would be when the wildlife can push back!!
Anyway, here is the link.
david
http://www.virtualtourist.com/m/1e53c/1f4e76/d/
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Aug 22nd, 2004, 01:08 PM
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Jan: thanks for the great and very detailed trip report.

Of course your report has created discussion of some huge issues. I am with Dave in that it really bothers me that snakes are killed. It is also very ironic that many people are willing to accept that snakes are dangerous to people and thus it is appropriate to eliminate them and yet the Masai are villianized for attacking and/or killing animals that they view as dangerous to them and their property.

The only way to prevent/or at least greatly reduce these practices are to try and understand the Masai and develop programs that benefit them strategically. I have never been to Kenya and admit to know little about the Masai but I have worked extensively in similar situations in the Western United States where ranchers frequently kill wildlife. According to the excellent link above in Sundowner's post the Masai receive very little, if any $ from the wildlife portion of safaris -- only from cultural tours where they have to do tribal dog and pony shows to get paid. This has actually influenced many to abandon their pasoral wanderings and encouraged them to be sedentary which just increases wildlife conflicts. Then of course many of us argue that the wildlife was here first -- well to the Masai they have been there pretty long too as opposed to a bunch of wealthy tourists telling them how to behave, how their land should be managed and how to punish them by taking away their cattle. All this pushes them to resent the wildlife and does not encourage respect. In fact, adding punishments when they already feel like they are not receiving their due will likely cause a huge increase in the slaughter of wildlife.

For starters the government has to start passing more of the economic benefits throughout the traditional people without drawing them to all live at the reserves doors. In Botswana and Namibia there have been some very effective models for benefitting the community financially which in turn has produced well conserved wildlife areas and does not force people to perform/host guests to see any benefit from tourism. They can have cultural interaction as part of their economy if they choose to but the wildlife and land preservation is also paid for separately. Secondly, instead of taking away cattle the government should set up a program to replace livestock that is taken by predators. In the west there are many programs that do just this. If the Masai knew that a portion of park entrance fees were set aside to replace livestock killed by a lion or to repair/replace damage from elephants than perhaps they would not attack in retribution and thus lose the replacement compensation that they could collect.

As best I can tell the Kenyan government and KWS are way behind most other countries in Africa on these kinds of issues, which is really pathetic since they had great amounts of tourist income coming in before all the other countries. Not that I am encouraging it but I can totally understand the talk of privitizing the KWS because it seems this country is quickly losing both its wildlife and cultural heritage due to greed, corruption and mismanagement.

Growing up Kenya was certainly synomynous with safari to me and I always wanted to go. Two years ago when I was finally ready for my first safari I did thorough research from a wildlife biologist point of view and Kenya is last on my list of countries that can provide a wildlife safari trip due to these kinds of issues.

Sorry for the long write up but when I started studying wildlife I had the kind of 'no touch', people are wrong kind of attitude that many display on this board. I still hold this in a large part of my heart but I have learned this way of thinking does not usually result in conserving wildlife. You have to have compassion for the human problem and figure out how they can benefit from conservation. It is the only way to achieve lasting conservation in places where people and animals interact.
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Aug 22nd, 2004, 01:34 PM
  #18
 
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Jan, what an exciting report. This was certainly a trip where you got to participate at a far deeper level than most people on a safari do. I admire your dedication, and after reading a report like this one, it is easy to see how one can become passionate about the present and future of wildlife in Africa.
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Aug 22nd, 2004, 06:26 PM
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Sundowner:

Thanks for sharing that website. It really moved me. It seems reparation is not what the Maasai want. Many are just out for blood.

Predatorbiologist - The difference between killing snakes and eles. is obvious. Elephants are endangered (though albeit coming back slowly) Snakes are a dime a dozen in Africa. You can usually see an elephant and get out of its way. You can't always see snakes before they strike. Do you honestly mean that if you had rattlesnakes in your house and no experts to move them out of the way, that you would continue to let them reside with you possibly killing your wife or kids? I think not.

Many programs (Cynthia Moss's group) have been paying reparations to the Maasai for some time and this is not enough for them. Many Maasai are hard working people employed in the lodges and parks so they do benefit from tourism. I also heard from some drivers that I had that they were former poachers and benefit more now than they did before. The Maasai already resent all wildlife. They killed all the rhinos in Amboseli, most of the lion families and are now after the elephants. They want nothing less than return of the areas landmarked for parks. I agree that economic benefits should be passed on to the parks and the people surrounding them. However, just as with social security funds being used for general purposes here, the park fees rarely are returned to the parks or neighbors. KWS is now in the process of starting their own reparation program, but KWS is almost broke itself so one will have to see how that goes. Privitization is something one might think of in the future when all the legalities and kinks can be worked out. However, it could be a disaster if it were implemented now. What is "sustainable" to one group is not to another. Like most businesses, it would probably drain all it could and then there would be nothing left. Kenya was formerly the best of the African countries. It refused sale of ivory, refused to cull, etc. If you think the southern African countries are any better look up the Tuli scandal on your computer. Many of us who love Africa just don't want to see it go the way of the US with no bison, no wolves, no pumas, no wildcats, etc. I think we have finally learned a hard lesson - don't fool with Mother Nature.

Thus I think we will have to politely agree to disagree on many of these subjects.

Uhoh-busted: Thank you for your encouragement. It means a lot.

Jan
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Aug 23rd, 2004, 12:12 AM
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Welcome home, Jan, and thanks for the report!
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