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ISSUE 19| JUNE/JULY | FREE COPY

LAST STRIPES LEWA WILDLIFE CONSERVANCY

KENYANS IN CONSERVATION

OFF-GRID: THE NAMIBIAN WAY

JOURNEYING ON KINDNESS OF STRANGERS


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Close Earrings in Brass, Ebony & Leather Closure Collection @amidoshishah www.amidoshishah.com


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EDITOR’S NOTE

WATCH OUT FOR THE BUFFALO SHIT!

T

his month we reconnected with Nomad’s Land Rover for a trip up north, this time to Lewa Wildlife Conservancy. You would remember it if you followed our adventures in the Laikipia issue. A drive that would have easily taken five hours took us longer because I’m always insistent on stopping in Nanyuki for a bite at one of its many cafes (this time, a delicious steak melt at Dormans Nanyuki, never mind that I’ve been trying my hand at a keto diet). There are always impromptu detours to check out a few attractions for Nomad along the way, and, “Oh my goodness, Brian! This landscape looks fantastic! Could we please just stop for a quick second for an Instagram picture?” As soon as we drive up the gates of this expansive conservancy with its 62,000 acres of sheer natural beauty just begging to be explored, a herd of Sitatunga antelopes gaze at us indifferently for all of two seconds before getting back to whatever it is antelopes discuss in the plains. Probably, like us, wondering if it might rain later that night. A giraffe turns its head to one side as though trying to find its light like a

seasoned supermodel as we click away. Talk about being in the running for Lewa Wildlife's Next Top Model! We also encounter Grevy’s zebra; did you know that much like the human fingerprint, the stripe of every Zebra is unique? These stripes also serve to confuse predators via two visual illusions: the wagon wheel effect (where the perceived motion is inverted) and the barber pole illusion (where the perceived motion is in a wrong direction). Such fascinating creatures! Two rhinos get so close to us that I feel as though if Iean out of the car far enough, I might be able to touch their hard mudswathed skin which, caught in the orange embers of a fading sunset, are bathed in the most attractive shade of gold. So near, yet so far. Even the fact that I accidentally step into the biggest mound of buffalo dung while getting out of the car is somewhat exciting, for if you live in the city, it’s not every day that you have to clean buffalo dung out of your sneakers. After a delicious meal at “Frida’s tents” which has me tempted to lick my plate clean, it is time to get down to work.

Wendy Watta

wattaonthego NOMAD ISSUE. 19 ·JUNE 2019 · PUBLISHED BY WEBSIMBA LIMITED, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

MANAGING DIRECTOR MIKUL SHAH EDITOR WENDY WATTA DESIGN BRIAN SIAMBI SALES VANESSA WANJIKU CONTRIBUTORS SAMANTHA DU TOIT, SOPHIE IBBOTSON, DYLAN EVANS, VELMA KIOME, HOLLIE M’GOG, CLARA ORINA, AMI DOSHI SHAH, ANTHONY W KURIA, CONTRIBUTING PHOTOGRAPHERS BRIAN SIAMBI, THORBURN CATTERMOLE, MARK BOYD, DYLAN EVANS, TIME + TIDE, SULEIMAN SOLZ DIGITAL FAITH KANJA MARKETING & OPERATIONS DANIEL MUTHIANI, ANGELA OMONDI SALES ENQUIRIES CALL NOMAD 0711 22 22 22 EMAIL EDITOR@NOMADMAGAZINE.CO

NomadMagazineAfrica

@NomadMagAfrica

@NomadMagazineAfrica

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CONTENTS 28

ON THE COVER GREVY'S ZEBRAS IN LEWA CONSERVANCY. SHOT BY BRIAN SIAMBI

In this issue 12. TOP SHOTS This month’s featured photographers capture an elephant moving through a thicket, and in Lolldaiga Ranch, a puff adder feeding on a wattled starling. 18. NEWS Kenya wins big at 2019 World Travel Awards, new Defender undergoes field testing with Tusk Trust in support of their lion conservation initiatives, Kenya bans single use plastic in protected areas, and more. 23. WHATS ON From Zanzibar International Film Festival to a gorilla naming ceremony in Rwanda, find a roundup of mustattend events this season. 24. GLOBETROTTERS: JOURNEYING ON KINDNESS 22 year old Tetsuya Mizoguchi recounts how he has come to rely on the kindness of strangers who invite him into their homes in various countries, a gesture that has allowed him to travel across continents without much money. 54. WHAT I PACK FOR MY TRAVELS Peek into the travel bag of Daniel Msirikale, a Tanzanian award-winning freelance photographer with a focus on exploring his country’s less known landscapes.

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34 40 FEATURES 28. FAR FROM THE MADDING CROWD At Lewa Wildlife Conservancy, we explore the symbiotic relationship between wildlife, tourism and local communities, and how these three pillars contribute to and benefit from conservation. 34. WHERE TO STAY Lewa Wildlife Conservancy has at least five high end lodges. We check out Sirikoi Lodge and Lewa Wilderness Lodge

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36. BACK FROM THE BRINK Zambia’s Liuwa National Park is one of the most remarkable conservation success stories in Southern Africa given that at one point, all but one of its lions had been killed.

46. THE NAMIBIAN WAY From its modern day Herero women in their colourful Victorian gowns to its wild horses and wondrous desert with petrified trees that survive for millions of years

40. KENYANS IN CONSERVATION We interview some inspiring Kenyans who believe in and work from the soul in trying to generate conservation ethics that spread far beyond their own spheres of influence.

26. LOVE, DURBAN South Africa’s third most populous city, Durban, has a bit of something for every type of traveler. Clara Orina finds her very own kind of paradise at Ushaka Marine World.

44. TRAILBLAZING For a country as rich in wildlife as Kenya, there are plenty of conservancies and organisations doing great work in protecting wildlife and their habitat. We share some of our top picks.

56. A DOGGO’S GREAT ADVENTURES Having seen her family through major milestones out in the wilderness, Samantha Du Toit’s Jack Russell terrier may be gone but not many canine companions would have as many stories to tell as he did.

50. GREAT HOTELS: LANZERAC HOTEL Granted a second-chance honeymoon in Cape Town after 14 years of marriage, Ami Doshi Shah and her husband revel in the opulence of Lanzerac Hotel & Spa where the wine, grown in the hotel’s very own estate, keeps flowing, and the elegant decor stuns.

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CONTRIBUTORS

WHAT’S THE MOST MEMORABLE PLACE THEY HAVE EVER BEEN TO FOR SAFARI?

ANTHONY WANJIRU KURIA Globetrotters, Page 24

SOPHIE IBBOTSON Back from the brink, Page 36

The Shaba National Reserve in Isiolo County is a magnet for different species of wildlife because of the Ewaso Ng’iro River. The flat tawny landscape is made even more fascinating by the arid desert and volcanic boulders. Here, there are rare species of Grevy's zebra, Beisa Oryx and the Somali ostrich. The reserve was also special to me because I felt a sense of déjà vu when I was there. This is because through popular cultural lore, I had already ‘visited’ the place through the book Born Free, the film Out of Africa and favorite TV reality show Survivor: Africa.

I visited Botswana with Africa Exclusive shortly after Rhinos Without Borders had relocated a rhino population from South Africa to Botswana’s Gomoti Plains. I knew there were rhinos there, but had no expectation of actually seeing one: it caught me completely by surprise. I was on a game drive with Mott, a wonderful guide from Gomoti Plains Camp, and I was on a high from encountering a lion. But then we pulled into a clearing and there was a rhino right in front of me. It’s no exaggeration to say the sighting took my breath away.

ABYSSINIAN NOMAD Author, Marskarm Haile Reviewed by: Velma Kiome After reading the book twice before Maskarm's arrival in Nairobi, mostly to seek inspiration to follow in her footsteps, I had imagined her a tall, robust woman with an equally robust voice. She is quite the opposite; a slim, medium height bespectacled woman with a huge mane of long curly hair framing a squarish face. Meeting her in Nairobi as a fellow but far less accomplished traveler, I was in awe. She had just arrived at a local school to speak to students aged ten to fifteen about charting and following dreams. As she spoke, I remembered my own dream of becoming a trans-Africa truck driver when I was ten years old, ignited during a class where we learned about The Great North Road that cuts north to south through the African continent. I learned pretty early not to speak my dreams out loud to adults, as someone retorted that "...girls cannot become truck drivers". That was the end of that, and now, three decades later, I am picking up my own dream where I left off. Being Canadian, the book’s title pays homage to Ethiopia, her native homeland's ancient name, Abyssinia. The seed that

sent her on this Cape to Cairo trip was planted while growing up with a curiosity for places beyond her home, that she "visited" through her childhood playmates of diverse nationalities, and a mother who traveled as part of her job. The story is strongly punctuated by her mother's cancer recurrence which cut short the 10-month

journey, and allows the reader an intimate glimpse into the hopelessness she and her siblings underwent as their mother faded away slowly, and the shadow of grief that ensued. We see a young woman who has chosen a life path that left her isolated from her community, losing people in her life and gaining new ones as she chased the wind on foot, by car, bus and train. Passport privilege came up in our chat, as Maskarm travelled on her Canadian passport. However, her passport often garnered a range of reactions from curiosity to hostility when contrasted with her clearly African countenance. Her least favorite destination was Cairo where she had a chilling encounter when a couchsurfing opportunity fell through and she had to make impromptu arrangements for accommodation...you will have to get the book to know how that went. She drew inspiration from others who have preceded her in similarly epic journeys, in particular Ffyona Campbell, an English long distance walker who covered thirty-two thousand kilometres around the world over eleven years and raised £180,000 for charity. The book is available on Amazon and in Nairobi at Prestige Bookshops

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THORBURN CATTERMOLE Instagram: @thorburn_cattermole I spotted Tim moving through a thicket with Tolstoy and some askaris. I followed at a distance and waited for them to move into the open. Tim started to feed on a yellow fever tree and I took my opening. I used a Canon 7D with a 24 - 105mm lens, at a focal length of 75mm and F/4. TIP: A lot of elephant images are captured in either monochrome or black and white. Taking colour away can do an injustice to the subject.

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TOP SHOTS

ROOTS OF AFRIKA Instagram: @rootsofafrika I got this shot at 8:30 am as the clouds were starting to roll in. We’d been driving since 4:00 am on a road trip through Samburu. TIP: Move around if you have to in order to find a satisfactory frame that isolates your subject(s) in the most flattering way. For this shot, I completely zoomed into the mountain.

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MARK BOYD Instagram: @thisboydslife On a game drive through the Lolldaiga Ranch, we spotted some wattled starlings mobbing something out of sight on the ground and jumped out of the vehicle to take a closer look. Finding that this puff adder had just killed one of the flock, I laid down a few metres away in the grass to get this low angle shot as it started feeding. It’s such a good example of how important it is to read the behavior and signs of the wild and the unusual photographic opportunities that can be revealed as a result. Shot on a Canon 5d MIII using a Tamron 150-600mm lens.

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NEWS KENYA WINS BIG AT 2019 WORLD TRAVEL AWARDS The 2019 World Travel Awards Africa & Indian Ocean Gala Ceremony held in Mauritius saw Kenya bag top awards in various categories. Kenya was also named as the host of next year’s Africa and Indian Ocean Gala, boosting it as a leading tourist destination. The Kenya Tourism Board emerged as Africa’s leading Tourist Board for the seventh consecutive year. Kenya’s big win saw it take three Africa destination awards. Nairobi was named Africa’s leading Business Travel Destination, the KICC was Africa’s leading meeting and conference destination while Kenya Airways was named Africa’s leading airline, business and economy class. Diani Beach also bagged its 6th win as Africa’s leading beach destination.

NEW DEFENDER UNDERGOES TESTING IN KENYA WITH TUSK TRUST TO SUPPORT LION CONSERVATION

PHOTOGRAPH Courtesy Land Rover

The new Land Rover Defender has completed its final phase of field testing with Tusk Trust, on location in Kenya, in support of their lion conservation initiatives in Africa. Land Rover has been an official partner of wildlife conservation charity, Tusk Trust, for 15 years and 2019 is its Year of the Lion - to highlight declining lion numbers in Africa. Threequarters of lion populations on the continent are in decline and black and white rhinos now outnumber the big cat in Africa. Fewer than 20,000 lions survive in the wild globally – a figure that has declined from 200,000 over the last century. This specially camouflaged Defender prototype was used by wildlife managers to support conservation operations across the 14,000-hectare Borana Conservancy. The conservancy is home to flat plains, deeply rutted tracks, steep rocky inclines, muddy river banks and thick forests, giving the new Defender a chance to showcase its unrivalled breadth of capabilities.

KENYA BANS SINGLE-USE PLASTIC PRODUCTS IN PROTECTED AREAS Visitors to national parks, beaches, forests and conservation areas will not be allowed to carry disposable plates, cups, straws, spoons, forks and water bottles, which are considered major environmental pollutants. This comes after a directive by President Uhuru Kenyatta to ban single-use plastic products in all protected areas. The announcement was made on World Environment Day and comes two years after Kenya banned the use, manufacture and sale of environmentally harmful plastics, polythene bags and packaging materials. Plastics have become a major nuisance for the environment with many littering the oceans, forests and even blocking drainages.

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NEWS HILTON MARKS 100 YEARS OF GLOBAL OPERATIONS Hilton marked 100 years of global operations on the 31st of May 2019. As part of activities to mark this auspicious occasion, Hilton Nairobi was involved in a community initiative aimed at rehabilitating Nairobi’s central park by planting over 100 trees in it to commemorate 100 years of hospitality while creating awareness on the need to have a functional urban park within the city. Recently, Hilton Nairobi announced that they have effectively stopped the use of plastic water bottles in all guest and meeting rooms. This is in line with Hilton’s commitment to save 20 million water bottles from going into our landfills annually. Hilton is one of the world’s largest and fastest growing hospitality companies boasting 17 Brands in 113 countries, and over 5,700 properties world-wide.

RETURN OF SAFARI RALLY AS WORLD RALLY CHAMPIONSHIP CANDIDATE EVENT

Considered the world’s toughest rally, Kenya’s premier motorsport competition, Safari Rally, has taken a major step in its bid to return to the World Rally Championship (WRC) after it was slotted in the 2020 pre-calendar. The iconic African event, famed for its tough driving conditions, featured on the World Championship circuit between 1973 and 2002. The 14-leg WRC has been lacking a leg in Africa since Safari Rally was dropped in 2002. This year’s competition will be a candidate event for the 2020 World Rally Championship circuit and as such is bound to attract a lot of interest from international teams. The new move, pending final draft by WRC, almost confirms the country’s dream to have the event back in the top tier of global motorsport circuit next year. The Safari Rally will run from 5-7th July 2019 starting from the Kasarani Stadium before moving to Naivasha and Kedong areas respectively, with a maximum of 60 cars being allowed to race.

PHOTOGRAPH Donna Sheppard

RHINO CHARGE RAISES KSH 156 MILLION AS MARK GLEN WINS

The 31st edition of the Rhino Charge took place in Oldonyiro’s Nannapa conservancy in Isiolo County. The event is organised to raise funds for the Rhino Ark Charitable Trust to conserve Kenya’s prime mountain forests and key sources of water. The off-road fundraising event requires competitors to visit 13 points scattered over approximately 100 km2 of rough terrain within a 10 hour period. This year, 57 teams participated raising a whooping Ksh 156,336,331.33. The event was won by Mark Glen in Car 48, followed by Mikey Hughes (Team Huzi) in Car 33 and, in third position, William Carr-Hartley in Car 42. The Victor Ludorum award which takes into consideration both the charge distance and fundraising was won by Adil Khawaja’s Team (AK-44) in car 44. This year Ksh 4,699,095 was raised through Land Access Fees (LAFs) which was given to the community chiefs of Nannapa Conservancy community.

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LIVING & WORKING AT

GARDEN CITY GARDEN CITY

BUSINESS PARK _____

Grade A Offices to lease from 1.1$USD 60% leased Some of the best parking ratios in town (up to 4 spaces per 1,000 sqft) Great accessibility to airport and Thika Highway corridor Ready for fit-out

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GARDEN CITY

RESIDENCES _____

Apartments to rent from 120,000 KSh or buy from 19 million KSh Stylish family townhouses available to rent from 175,000 Ksh or buy from 35 million KSh 70% sold High-end finishing throughout, heated swimming pool, full fitted gym, lots of family fun

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WHAT’S ON

ZANZIBAR INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL The Zanzibar International Film Festival (ZIFF) is East Africa’s largest film and arts festival, exhibiting the latest and best films and promoting film talents from across the African continent and beyond. The 22nd edition of ZIFF will take place between 6-14th July 2019 and will comprise of a range of film screenings and complementary events across Zanzibar island. ZIFF is comprised of over 80 events including film screenings, live music, performances, workshops, women and children’s panoramas as well as the large scale outdoors film screenings in the amphitheater at the Old Fort for which the festival is renowned. For more information visit www.ziff2019.org

NAIROBI WINE FESTIVAL Nairobi Wine Festival is back! As part of Nairobi Wine Week from 28th June to 7th July, Nairobi Wine Festival 2019 is happening on May 5th-7th of July at Trademark Hotel, Village Market. Taste more than 40 wines from all over the world paired with delicious gourmet bites, while enjoying live cooking & wine masterclasses with chefs and sommeliers from across Nairobi. For more information contact info@nairobiwinefestival.com or call 0791389771. www.nairobiwinefestival.com

KWITA IZINA 2019 | GORILLA NAMING CEREMONY RWANDA TOUR Kwita Izina, Rwanda’s gorilla naming ceremony, is set to take place on September 6th this year, alongside a range of activities which will be occurring weeklong. Names attributed to gorillas play a significant role in the on-going programme of monitoring each individual gorilla in their families and habitat. Kwita Izina, a uniquely Rwandan event, was introduced in 2005 with the aim of creating awareness of conservation efforts for the endangered mountain gorilla. The Government of Rwanda and conservation partners have donated substantial resources to gorilla conservation and continue to do so. Each year newborn gorilla babies are celebrated in an exciting event at the foothills of the Virunga Mountains. For more info visit www.rdb.rw/kwitizina

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JOURNEYING

ON KINDNESS

Tetsuya Mizoguchi is a man on a mission. The 22-year-old is attempting to become the youngest Japanese to travel from Cape Town to Cairo by riding a bicycle. Catching up with Anthony Wanjiru Kuria during his time in Kenya, the university student explains how he has come to rely on the kindness of strangers who invite him into their homes in various countries, a gesture that has allowed him to travel across continents without much money.

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GLOBETROTTERS

But, how did he find himself here? When he was 15, Tetsuya received a special gift from his parents: a bicycle. From a tender age, they had noticed his love for cycling. This present would now allow him to accomplish his lifelong dream of cycling like his idol, Peter Sagan, a Slovakian professional road bicycle racer. After endless hours of practice, he started registering in local cycling tournaments.

Winning the competitions he registered for did not satiate his appetite for adventure. Instead, he decided to challenge himself by touring his native Japan. “I had to wait until I turned 18. When that time came in 2015, I got a blessing from my parents and was on my way. Riding my bike, I toured my home country in a record two weeks,” he excitedly recalls. A year later, the wanderlust bug bit him again. This time, it prodded him to venture out into Europe. In August 2016, he flew to Barcelona, Spain. He had his bicycle, sleeping bag, tent, a few clothes and a camera. He cycled through 12 countries, among them, France, Belgium, Italy, the Netherlands, Germany, the UK, and Austria. “Europe was a great experience for me. The people there were kind; some even invited me to their homes. When I was not lucky enough to find a host for the night, I would set up my tent in secluded places and rest for the night. I wasn’t worried; I felt safe.” “I have to say that Europe is quite expensive, particularly Paris. I relied mostly on bread, take-away or canned food because I could not afford to eat at hotels. The most memorable place I visited was Toulouse in France because they have a cycling culture there. Therefore, when the residents found out what I was up to, they cheered me on. I got a lot of encouragement from this,” he adds. Tetsuya completed his Europe excursion in two months. He boarded a plane in France and flew back home. His parents and girlfriend, Miho Amano, were extremely proud of him. “My younger brother was very happy for me. He does not go out a lot; he prefers to play video games.” Tetsuya also harbored ambitions of becoming a vehicle engineer like his father. This particular career path he wanted to follow had seen him earlier enroll at the Toyohashi University of Technology to study car engineering. He is now in his fourth year. “I mostly travel during university semester breaks. I’ll be graduating in March 2020.” After conquering Europe, he set his sights on Asia in 2017. While there, he visited four countries: China, Vietnam, Laos and Thailand. The trip lasted throughout the month of March. “Like Europeans, Asians are very kind; they let me spend time in their homes. Asia, unlike Europe, is not expensive; I could at least afford to eat in hotels and sleep in hostels whenever I did not find a host.” “I experienced the kindness and generosity of Laotians, who, despite not having much are so happy. They also invited me into their homes to share what little they had. Unfortunately in Japan, we are rich but not happy.” In August of the same year, he left for South America. In the continent he cycled through Bolivia, Peru, Chile and Argentina. “This has been my most challenging trip so

far. Because of the high altitude, I found it difficult to cycle. At some point, I had to climb to an altitude of 5, 000 meters; this made it extremely difficult to breathe.” “Moreover, I experienced food poisoning twice, had to push my bike though the Atacama Desert in Chile and communicating was tough because most of the people in this region speak Spanish. I had to do with gestures and lots of smiling to get through. But, they were also very kind to me. I even tasted Alpaca meat for the first time in South America.” In November that year, Tetsuya flew back home. Cycling through Africa In October 2018, he flew to South Africa with the intention of cycling from Cape Town to Cairo. Like in other continents, he’d be cycling 10 hours every day. Unfortunately, in Johannesburg, he was mugged by gun-wielding robbers. “They stole my wallet and phone. Fortunately, they didn’t hurt me or damage my bike.” Although his possessions were forcefully taken from him, his spirit was not broken. He continued his journey into neighboring Zimbabwe, Zambia, Tanzania and Kenya. In Tanzania, he saw, for the first time in his life, wild animals. “It was in the Serengeti where I saw zebras, giraffes and lions. I also got to interact with the Maasai. Moreover, I even saw Mt Kilimanjaro. These are moments that will forever be etched in my memory.” On 3rd January, he arrived in Kenya. While here, he was being hosted by businessman, Simon Kamangu, in his home in Nairobi. “I found him waiting for my Japanese neighbors at the gate when I arrived home from work. He explained who he was and I invited him to my house. When they arrived, I offered to continue hosting him until he could get visas for Sudan and Ethiopia,” says Mr. Kamangu. “He has been a great inspiration to my family because he has achieved so much while still young,” he adds. From Kenya, he went to Ethiopia through Moyale Town, from where he cycled to Sudan and ended his trip in Egypt. He looks forward to going back home, graduating and finding employment. “I want to work and make enough money to marry my girlfriend Miho by the time I am 27. The marrying age in Japan is usually 31 but I do not want to wait that long. We have settled on three children. I shall share with my future family about my adventures around the world.” Tetsuya has his sponsors Diatech Bruno and OSG, (Japanese bicycle and drill maker respectively) to thank for funding his trips. “I was also covered by my travel insurance. The insurance footed the hospital bill when I experienced food poisoning in Peru and Chile. Fortunately though, I have not sustained any serious injuries on my trips.”

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A KENYAN TRAVELLER

LOVE,

DURBAN

South Africa’s third most populous city, Durban, has a bit of something for every type of traveler. Clara Orina finds her very own kind of paradise at Ushaka Marine World.

F

or a lot of the Kenyans I have spoken to, going to South Africa often means visiting Johannesburg for entertainment or Cape Town for wine, but very few people plan to check out Durban. For me, its magnificent beaches and rich history were a key draw to this coastal city. There’s a bit of something for everyone in this city, the third most populous in South Africa. If you have some money to burn, Gateway Theater of Shopping is one of the largest shopping malls in the world with over 400 stores. For fitness enthusiasts, go for a run or bike ride along the golden sands of the beaches. City parks like Jameson Park and Blue Lagoon Park are ideal for nature lovers. Party lovers are covered as there are always plenty of nighttime events happening around town. If history is more your speed, Kwa Muhle Museum, Phansi Museum and more provide great insight into the country and city’s past, and are particularly great for learning more about the people. The Natural Science Museum is said to have the third largest collection of birds in Africa. There is the Durban art gallery where fascinating work from both local and international artists can be viewed. For me, exploring Ushaka Marine World, the 5th largest aquarium in the world just by sheer volume of water, was like walking through paradise itself. Set on Durban’s Golden Mile, I enjoyed spending an afternoon lost in the wonder of this place while seeing a variety of marine life, some for the very first time. There was a section

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dubbed ‘the dangerous creatures zone’ with an array of fascinating animals like tarantulas, dart frogs, false water cobras and tree vipers. A smaller section had exotic and locally found animals such as Nile crocodiles, scorpions, black mambas and Burmese pythons. At the open ocean section which was inside an old cargo, I gazed in astonishment at the array of colourful marine life on display. I have been snorkelling at the Kenyan coast before but the water was unfortunately murky on that day and I therefore missed out on all this beauty. The enormous glass wall at the aquarium which was 8m long by 3m high made me feel as though I was standing underwater and gazing up at the fish, it felt like being in scene in the latest Aquaman movie. I walked by a section called “Dangers of the Deep” where sea snakes, sharks (spinner

sharks, the local cat sharks, ragged-tooth sharks, hammerhead sharks etc), stone fish and devil firefish live. It was interesting watching the shark swim past me through the glass window, and even more fun watching them catch their prey. I also spotted ray fish, one of the largest cartilaginous fish in the world often distinguished by their flattened bodies, enlarged pectoral fins that are linked to their heads as well as their gill slits which are located on their ventral surfaces. Both sharks and rays are in the same family of cartilaginous fish and while most rays adapt by feeding on the bottom, sharks don’t. Rays mostly feed on snails, crustaceans, oysters and plankton. Here, I also saw kingfish, giant groupers, cobias as well as potato bass. Though I didn’t get to see them because I was late, one can also watch dolphins swim in all their grace and strength. There are also seals in the park and quite entertaining watching how these intelligent creatures behave and interact with the audience. In another section were the African penguins which are now sadly an endangered species . Ushaka Marine World had some affordable local stores from which I bought a few clothes before leaving. There were acrobats doing their twists and turns as well as an array of restaurants from which one can try local and international food. This really is a place where one could get lost all day. Do you have a story you would like featured in this column? Email a detailed pitch to editor@nomadmagazine.co


Come and enjoy 90,000 acres of PRISTINE WILDERNESS, all from your very own PRIVATE BUSH HOME Pelican House, in the centre of Ol Pejeta Conservancy, can be taken on a catered or self-catered basis

Contact: reservations@olpejetaconservancy.org | +254 (0) 707 187 141

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FAR FROM THE MADDING CROWD

Wendy Watta explores the symbiotic relationship between wildlife, tourism and local communities, and how these three pillars contribute to and benefit from conservation, as seen through World Heritage Site- Lewa Wildlife Conservancy. PHOTOGRAPHS: BRIAN SIAMBI

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LEWA

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WILDLIFE

Now the manager of Lewa Wilderness Lodge, when Karmushu Kiama was growing up in Ngare Ndare which borders Lewa Conservancy on the western side, he and his peers would look after livestock along the boundaries of the conservancy. Following a translocation, a rhino called Mukora had been introduced into Lewa, and the kids would line up along the fence to look at it, hoping it would come closer, and when it did, they would run off. Rhinos were a rare sight in Lewa at the time, but his father, who had himself been a warrior there in the 60s, had shared nostalgic youthful tales of his own days spent taking the cattle out to graze. The animal they had been most wary of in the bush was the black rhino; they were simply teeming in the area. According to Geoffrey Chege, Lewa’s Head of Conservation and Wildlife, in the 1970s, there were still at least 20,000 black rhinos in Kenya, a number that had been much higher in the years before that. By the mid-80s, the population had drastically reduced to between 300 and 400. I’d like to think that in their time, our ancestors, being hunters and gatherers, depended on wildlife for various resources such as food, clothing in whatever its form, tools and more, but their numbers were low enough to be sustained by the population. I imagine lions prowling unperturbed through vast lands in what would today be an urban center like Nairobi or Nanyuki. But the lifestyle changed, population increased and wildlife started being exploited at a higher rate. The commercialisation of wildlife was introduced to Africa by Arab ivory traders and European hunters, then, eventually, the illegal wildlife trade in Yemen and the Far East. Ivory was a precious commodity and you’ve likely seen gory images of caravans of slaves carrying these towards ships. Poaching to fuel this new demand for wildlife parts became rife. It was now easier to take down an elephant with a gun than it had been with a bow and arrow, and I’ve heard unclarified tales that animals were gunned down in large numbers from some regions in order to resettle people in towns as we know them today. Climatic conditions changed and other factors probably came into play, and by the 80s, a lot of species were critically endangered. Conservancies were primarily born out of a need for protection; to ensure that wildlife and their habitats continued to thrive for future generations. The land that now forms Lewa had until then largely been used as a cattle ranch until 1984 when David and Delia Craig founded the conservancy. Only a few black rhinos were in the north and they were so widely distributed that even their chances of mating were low. 15 were brought into this

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new conservancy, and today the number has risen to 100, making Lewa’s the third key one population in the country after Ol Pejeta and Ngulia Rhino Sanctuary in Tsavo West. The population is now stable, increasing and of significance continental importance, and has been used to help establish other zones around the country such as Borana in 2013 and Sera in 2015. But, black rhinos are not the only animals that have tangibly benefited from Lewa’s existence. The Southern White Rhino, which is actually exotic to Kenya as it was first brought in from South Africa in the 60s, has found a safe home on Lewa. Chege explains that in the 90s, Lewa introduced the species to its land, translocated from South Africa and existing populations in Kenya, and the number has today gone from 15 to 97. These have then been used to re-establish other populations in Kenya, Ol Pejeta being a big beneficiary.


LEWA

Elephants, which had been isolated and had no passage due to human development (they used to come from Mt Kenya through Ngare Ndare Forest into Lewa then as far North as the Mathews Range, and back), now have a corridor with a good underpass that was recreated thanks to Mount Kenya Trust, Lewa, Kenya Wildlife Service and various stakeholders. Elephants are creatures of habit, and before then, there was a lot of humanwildlife conflict as they would break infrastructure and fences knowing there was a route there.

“ Lewa today has 11% of the world’s population of Grevy’s zebra,” says Chege, “and the country’s population of lions stands at 2,000. The survival rate of cubs on Lewa is 70%, which is actually higher than what is currently documented in other areas.” Wait, Kenya only has a total of 2,000 lions? Going about my regular life in Nairobi, I have always imagined that they are teeming in our game reserves in their tens of thousands.

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LEWA TOURISM

Built in 1972, Lewa Wilderness is the oldest lodge in the conservancy with the main house which was built for David and Delia still functioning as a lounge. Here, guests from all over the world converge to have afternoon tea. They then set off for exciting activities which include horse riding, camel and walking safaris, game drives, hiking and swimming in the neighbouring Ngare Ndare Forest, taking to the skies in a canary yellow open cockpit biplane- the same model Denys Finch Hatton and Karen Blixen used to fly around years ago, and more. The views are striking and the accommodation unmatched, and they return every year in their numbers. At least 5,000 guests stay at the conservancy every year, and most of the lodges are currently fully booked until the end of October. One would be surprised to discover that the average resident rates at the very obviously high end lodges here is Ksh 25,000, and that includes meals, game drives far from the madding crowd and a conservancy fee of Ksh 4,500 which goes directly to Lewa’s development work. Even if all you do is spend a night at Lewa, you have already made your contribution to conservation as neither wildlife nor tourism would thrive without the involvement of the community. Employment is one of the ways in which lodges contribute to conservation, and well over 95% of the staff at Lewa are Kenyan. Lodge manager Karmushu, himself a beneficiary of a bursary scheme, is a prime example. Today, whenever guests ask him how they can get involved, he tells them about the range of projects currently going on, all of which are available for them to witness firsthand through the conservancy's ‘behind-the-scenes’ program. The biggest donor who supports at least 200 kids per year through the Lewa Education Programme came through Karmushu. What had started as a regular conversation, with Karmushu telling him about two young girls who had just run away from home to avoid getting married, led to these girls becoming the first to get a scholarship through this donor.

COMMUNITY PROJECTS

At Lewa, I discovered that conservation is actually really about people’s relationships with wildlife and nature, and the conservancy has therefore been intentional about investing in the community. People will get generally involved if they can see tangible benefits. Based on Lewa’s 2018/9 impact report, here are just five of the projects that have successfully been rolled out: Education- 30 government schools are now supported by Lewa and its western neighbour Borana's Education Programmes. In these schools, infrastructure projects have

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Wait, Kenya only has a total of 2,000 lions? Going about my regular life in Nairobi, I have always imagined that they are teeming in our game reserves in their tens of thousands.

been initiated, such as new classrooms, teachers houses, dormitories, lavatories, laboratories and libraries. There are 421 learners in the adult literacy programme across nine centres, with 458 students receiving bursaries at all levels. 2,500 students are enrolled in the digital literacy programme across different centres in the sponsored schools. 5,105 students and teachers have visited lewa for a conservation education experience. Healthcare- Lewa supports four clinics that are the nearest health centres for many of the locals, providing medical care to more than 40,000 people. Through the healthcare programme, children are checked and treated for diseases and ailments receiving vision tests, dental screening, immunisation and more, mothers have access to ante and postnatal care, and cancer screening is available to all. Water- This has always been a major issue in the north. Over the years, Lewa has built 11 water projects including dams, boreholes and water tanks, providing water to approximately 20,000 people. Business opportunities- The Micro-Credit Programme provides small-scale loans at low interest rates to support enterprise amongst local female entrepreneurs. Started a decade ago with just 30 women, the programme now serves 1,800. Jewellery handmade in beadworks projects are available for sale as souvenirs to guests, while lodges like Lewa Wilderness display furniture and rugs woven by the community to any guest keen to buy. Employment- According to Wanjiku Kinuthia, Lewa’s Senior Communications Manager, conservation is one of those fields where everyone gets a chance at excelling. Indigenous knowledge backed by on-the-job training is celebrated where there is a clear passion. A safari guide could for instance get an opportunity and excel in this way, whereas they may have struggled to get a decent job in a city like Nairobi.

PHOTORGRAPHS Frank af Petersen, Jeff Waweru, Steve Toom


RUNNING IN THE WILD Set to take place on 29th June, this will be the 20th year of the Safari Marathon run annually in Lewa. Considered one of the top ten marathons in the world, this milestone year will attract 1,400 runners from over 35 nationalities. One of the key selling points of the Safaricom Marathon in Lewa is that it is one of the few marathons in the world that takes place in a UNESCO World Heritage site, a conservancy no less. The money collected annually goes towards supporting Lewa as well as other conservation initiatives such as the Local Ocean Trust that works in turtle conservation, Mt Kenya Trust, Grevy’s Zebra Trust, and more.

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WHERE TO STAY PHOTOGRAPDHS: BRIAN SIAMBI TEXT: WENDY WATTA

Lodges play a key role in conservation, ensuring a continued protection of wildlife while directly enriching the lives of surrounding communities. At Lewa, a conservancy fee of Ksh 4,500 per guest (for residents) goes directly to community projects at some of the properties, while others pay a lump some of their profits for the land which they lease. Guests have also been known to take individual interest in, for instance, providing bursaries for a child’s education. Lewa Wildlife Conservancy has at least five high end lodges. Here are two that we checked out during our visit: SIRIKOI LODGE As though in some unexplained rush, dusk falls rapidly all around us as we

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mercifully huddle around a log fire, a glass of wine in one hand and a dessert plate with a decadent slice of carrot-and-pecan cake balanced on the lap. The elegantly dressed owner of this family-run property, Sue Roberts, joins us for a tipple with her excitable black retriever hot on her heels. Pretty soon, the most melodic of choruses rents the air as the birds call out to one another, perhaps gossiping about the day’s occurrences or simply saying goodnight. Sue periodically stops mid-conservation to identify all the birds and animals by their sounds, a trait I have always found admirable in those that dwell within the wild. A baboon overzealously barks from its vantage point on the branches of an acacia, warning the surrounding antelopes about a leopard which

we can only spot lurking in the tall grass further beyond via a telescope. Unfortunately for the prey, he might not be getting any dinner tonight. The resident giraffe saunters surprisingly close after drinking up at the watering hole. To say that Sirikoi is stunning would be a gross understatement. Set on private land adjacent to Lewa, its contemporary African decor is as country as it is elegant. The ceilings are high, the cottages open-faced and with private wooden decks, and the tone is very earthy with dark woods accented by cream and burnt orange colours. Heck, I would be content to even sleep in one of the expansive bathrooms with their white Victorian clawfoot bathtubs. There are four luxury tents, a twobedroom cottage, a three-bedroom house and one swimming pool. www.sirikoi.com


LEWA

LEWA WILDERNESS Being welcomed by Karmushu, the lodge manger here, in his full traditional Maasai garb, is a very welcome sight. Original home of owners Will and Craig, the property now boasts nine cottages made of stone and wood, then thatched, all seamlessly blending into the hillside. The grass, like an expansive green carpet, is meticulously tended to. It is incredulous that the views so nonchalantly found here even exist in this world. A river meanders along the valley below, and the flora is lush and green from the recent bout of rains. Up in the hills, an elephant rubs

against the trunk of a tree while a Somali ostrich is preoccupied with something on the ground; these animals are spotted in the distance by Karmushu, and thanks to my poor eyesight, it takes a bit of pointing and squinting to finally spot them with my naked eye. Best enjoyed, I would suggest, from the primary salt-water swimming pool which stands elevated on a cliff, or a private plunge pool a few metres from your bed. The garden cottages are perfect for families, but for couples, the hillside rooms allude to romance. The decor is old country- rustic,

understated and perfect for the location. The furniture and rugs are all hand-made in conjunction with the local community, and are available to buy should any catch your eye- and trust me, they did. Meals at this intimate property are communal, served in banquet table set in the middle of an openair dining room. I was also delighted to find out that they operate a yellow open-cockpit biplane, the only of its kind in East Africa and very reminiscent of the old-safari era, for anyone keen on a scenic air safari. www.lewawilderness.com

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BACK FROM THE BRINK:

LIUWA PLAIN NATIONAL PARK 36

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FEATURE

Zambia’s Liuwa National Park is one of the most remarkable conservation success stories in Southern Africa given that at one point, all but one of its lions had been killed with other wildlife critically declining in numbers. Sophie Ibbotson visits and discovers what can be achieved with the right vision, investment and commitment.

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2

0 years ago, Zambia’s Liuwa Plain National Park was one of the last places you would have wanted to go to. This vast stretch of watery grasslands in the Western Province had been a royal hunting ground since the 1880s and is one of the oldest protected areas in Africa. In spite of its heritage and status, the Litunga (king) of Barotseland and the Government of Zambia after him had been unable to do anything to stop the carnage when poachers fled across the border into the park to escape the Angolan civil war. In the 1990s, all but one of the park’s lions were killed. All of the other large mammal species - blue wildebeest, cheetah, spotted hyena and numerous kinds of antelope - experienced a critical decline in numbers. In recent years, however, a miracle has happened. Since African Parks took on the management of the park in 2003, Liuwa Plain’s ecosystem has steadily recovered. Lions have been reintroduced and are breeding, there is an important predator research station and the park now boasts the largest wildebeest migration after the MaraSerengeti. Laura Burdett-Munns, MD of Africa Exclusive, recommended Liuwa Plain to me as one of the most remarkable conservation success stories in Southern Africa. Africa Exclusive encourages adventurous travellers like myself to visit “disappearing destinations” - those which may not be here to enjoy in a generation’s time due to climate change, urban encroachment and other man made tragedies - and by doing so, drawing attention to their plight. Highlighting best practice in sustainable travel, and the symbiotic relationship it can have with conservation and development, allows guests to travel with purpose, and Liuwa Plain is an inspiration. It shows what can be achieved with the right vision, investment and commitment. Getting into the park is not without its challenges; there’s no escaping its remote location. I flew into the Kalabo Airstrip on a tiny charter plane. It was the dry season, but even then there was no bridge across the river between the airstrip and the park. My guide edged our 4x4 onto a pontoon ferry, and Lozi ladies with their bags of shopping from the market bundled in alongside us. Men on the banks pulled the pontoon across using a steel cable, and I was grateful for the traction afforded by the 4WD when drove off onto the sandy track. There are no tarmac roads within the park, and so in the rainy season they are all but impassable: you have to explore by boat

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instead, or fly into the lodge by helicopter. I like to drive, though; you see so much along the way, from the fishermen returning home after a day fishing in the pans, to children playing football, and then, as you get away from the villages and deeper into the park, herds of antelope, wildebeest and zebra, cranes, pelicans, eagles and more. I came to see the migration, and had timed my visit to coincide with the time for calving. Before I’d even reached the Time+Tide King Lewanika Lodge, the only permanent camp in Liuwa Plain, I’d witnessed a newborn wildebeest calf take his first few faltering steps, and seen his day or two older cousins gambling through the grass. Where there are young ungulates, or “an easy meal” as they are known in the food chain, there are going to be predators. The most obvious of these in Liuwa are the hyenas. In a normal, healthy ecosystem, hyenas are scavengers, eating what’s left of the carcasses killed by apex predators.

Lions have been reintroduced and are breeding, there is an important predator research station and the park now boasts the largest wildebeest migration after the Mara-Serengeti.

But in the years of absence of lions and cheetahs, Liuwa’s hyenas learned to hunt for themselves. They work as a pack, and though the cubs look cute and fluffy enough, even they are ruthlessly effective. I watched a hyena chow down on the spinal column of what had probably been a young zebra. His jaws were so powerful that he crunched straight through the bone. One lion survived the destruction of Liuwa’s wildlife, and her name was

Lady Liuwa. She is said to have had the incarnated spirit of a Lozi grandmother, and indeed when her lion brothers and sisters were all gone, she came to the villagers for company. Lady Liuwa’s story is one of the things which inspired African Parks to take on the challenge of restoring the national park; conservationists wanted to give her back her family. Reintroducing lions to Liuwa Park hasn’t been an easy ride. Even once the park was secured, lions didn’t return naturally. The first male brought here died of natural causes, and though two more followed and mated with Lady Liuwa, it seems that she was infertile. Under the watchful eye of the Zambia Carnivore Programme, more lions and lionesses have been brought here (including from Kafue National Park), and thankfully they have settled in and begun to breed. The new arrivals were acclimated in a boma near the lodge, so they consider this area of Liuwa to be their natural territory. The guides in Liuwa seem to know intuitively where the lions will be. We set out from the lodge after breakfast, carrying a picnic as we expected to be out all day. Barely half an hour had gone by, however, when the driver stopped the 4x4 and stood up on his seat, looking out across the plain through his binoculars. There was a herd of zebra on the horizon, and they were looking distinctly uneasy. Clearly they could see or smell something we could not, so we headed in their direction. At the lip of a pan filled with water, we encountered a complete lion family: mother, father and cubs of three different sizes. No wonder the zebras were perturbed. In fact, they were safe, at least for the moment. The lion family had eaten their fill quite recently and weren’t in the mood for hunting. We sat at a respectful distance watching them drinking from the pan and playing with one another. The youngest cub wanted to play fight; his brothers threw off his efforts with good humour. The light was fading as we were on our way back to the lodge. The sky had turned an elegant pinkish purple, and we could see for miles over the largely flat terrain. Something moved and caught the guide’s eagle eye. A cheetah had sat up tall, backlit against the sinking sun, in order to get a better view of where his next dinner might be. He’d broken the horizon light, and I don’t think I’ve ever seen a more stunning sight. Sophie Ibbotson is the author of five Bradt Travel Guides, including the first guidebook to South Sudan. She travelled to Zambia with wildlife and wilderness specialists Africa Exclusive.


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KENYANS IN

CONSERVATION We interview some inspiring Kenyans who believe in and work from the soul in trying to generate conservation ethics that spread far beyond their own spheres of influence TEXT: Hollie M’gog

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CONSERVATION

MT KENYA TRUST EDWIN Edwin is a community wildlife officer now but has always loved wilderness areas and grew up on the boundary of Mt. Kenya defending his crops against wildlife. When the invasive damage grew too intense, the community knew they had to come up with a long term solution and tried bee-hives, chilli-powder and grease rope fences until they finally partnered with the European Union in 2002 to erect an electric fence. The children could suddenly go to school safely and people started appreciating the wildlife because it was not invading. He then took on the role of research assistant for a PhD student and it was this that turned his world upside down, changing his wildlife perspective forever. Edwin believes in treating the issue not the symptoms and loves his work as head of the community scout team. Human wildlife conflict is something you know a lot about. How do you suggest dealing with it? It sometimes takes a full understanding of the animals before you begin to protect them but people will not protect if they are hungry, do not have a house or cannot send their children to school. These, then, are the first points of focus. They though must not deforest all the area around them as it leaves the wildlife hungry and dangerous. If you could solve two issues right away what would it be? Wildlife corridors: if we had preserved these throughout all our wild places in Kenya, we would have prevented 1001 problems. Snares: they are so horrible to the animals and create so much misery. What do you spend your days patrolling for? Snare foot patrols, illegal logging, cannabis farms, charcoal production, water obstructions, bushmeat hunting with dogs and lately fighting the fires in the Mt. Kenya National Park. How closely linked is community engagement and conservation? It is so closely linked and conservation will never be successful without community engagement. It is about educating about better livelihoods, gathering intelligence, sponsoring new ideas dreamt up by the community members themselves and finally really creating an understanding of the long term impacts of deforestation and backing water storage methods. Why do you conserve? I have seen so many young people wanting to leave Kenya to find a better life but when I look around and see what we have I realise we have everything we need. To make full use of it, I know that everything goes back to conservation and the management of our resources. Tel: 0722862883

COASTAL: ‘SAMMY SAFARI’ Sammy should be a proud citizen in his role as community liaison officer within the local ocean conservation and turtle watch group, but he stretches himself further and works harder than most I know. From Mida Creek right out into the ocean to Roka BMU, Weyombo to Myungo in Malindi, Sammy patrols for turtle poachers and those buying and selling bushmeat from the ArabukoSokoke forest. Not only does he liaise, but he also changes perspectives (planting trees, which nets to use and why) and educates the young in his community. He builds up alternative earning opportunities in projects from moringa to collecting indigenous seeds and planting nurseries. He listens quietly to the poaching chatter and builds up evidence backed cases that lead to high profile arrests while the elephants visiting Mida are guaranteed safe passage because of the efforts of his team. Where do you see Kenya in five years? If Kenya can really implement its strategic plan to increase forest cover to 10% by 2022, then we can improve forest biodiversity and sustainable ecology, but only if there is a focus on indigenous species and sustainable harvesting. What ways have you seen where traditional conservation methods have been combined

with new technology? Butterfly farming has combined new technology and traditional conservation methods. The number of people involved in butterfly rearing has increased vastly, and they wish to conserve the forest as they use it to sustain their earnings from butterfly harvesting. What place would you like your sons and daughters to take in conservation when they grow up? I have two boys that I would like to see take the path of conservation. I did not start at an early stage and was a grown up by the time my dad coaxed me into it. My children have now grown up seeing me involved in conservation activities such as tree nurseries, forest patrols, animal monitoring and maintaining the drinking waterhole in the Arabuko Sokoke forest. If you could fix one conservation problem right now ... which one would it be? Turtle or elephant poaching as I want my grandchildren to see them. If people would like to support you how can they do this? Here are a few places where we are in need of support: resources for education and awareness, field visits and the training of new forest scouts that we have identified, data collection support and creation of income creating activities such as native tree nurseries and forest plots, butterfly farming and cassava farming, bee keeping and eco-tourism. Tel: 0787281661/0708323794

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CONSERVATION

conservation skills through observation and believing in the cause. Not many people know about one of the places you work, Menengai Crater. Tell us three interesting things. Menengai Crater is a collapse caldera and is the second largest crater in Africa and in the top five largest in the world. Menengai is rich in floral biodiversity and birdlife. Some plants are totally unique to this special biome and we even get the Verreaux Eagle there.

LAIKIPIA: ALFRED KOECH Alfred has spread his conservation spirit over the country from Naivasha to the Masaai Mara and now to Laikipia where his passion is raptor conservation. He rallies the troops to educate on the dire consequences of poisoning (intentional and unintentional), collects data on electrocutions, pushes hard against habitat loss and is beginning to feed the concept and language of eco-toxicology into pastoral communities. Vultures and their uncertain future turn his conversation into ‘fighting talk’ and one cannot help but be drawn into his conservation beliefs. What would a future without vultures look like? I cannot imagine it as it would be so full of diseases and old carcasses! A clean environment depends on vultures. ‘Exploitation of resources’ what does this phrase mean to you? Too many people wanting too many things and thus threatening biodiversity. We can be happy with a simple life with a conservation outlook. In Kenya too many people are too greedy.

RIFT VALLEY: JACKSON RAINI Jackson works from his base in Nakuru where he often raises his own funds to do the non-trendy but necessary work in conservation – chasing down the paperwork, checking NEMA permissions, requesting paper trails and documents that show the correct EIA’s have been done. Whenever he can, he gets out into the field to follow up and while there he has incredible patience in talking to people, educating them about his work and showing them what they too can do to protect their futures in a country that is hungry for development despite the environmental cost. Why do you think conservation is so important? The rate of species extinction is so fast and we are losing so many ways of life that we all have to act. There are so many unique habitats that need our

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attention... they give quality to our lives even if we don’t see it. Who is your conservation role model? Professor Wangari Maathai How can we create more interest in conservation at a village level? The development of environmental education packages for use in schools and adult literacy classes would be so helpful. The establishment of community and school outreach programmes lend to educational focus in the schools. We can also target farmers to become conduits of conservation education, find funding for self driven initiatives and bring women into conservation leadership roles. If someone wanted to train to work in conservation how would he/she start? First start by believing in what you can do. Develop a passion for the earth, hone your

How are the public and communities supportive of you and your work? In Northern Kenya the response of the public to my education work regarding vultures and poisoning has been positive and I feel that many people are changing their perspectives and working to predator-proof their own bomas. What have you seen or worked with that has made you the most sad or happy? It makes me sad to hear about owl persecution by local communities as the idea that they are bad omens is so far from the truth. Egg hunting for witchcraft, medicinal purposes and trading are devastating the populations and we have to educate more people about what is happening. Always my happy moments are releasing rehabilitated raptors, from buzzards and eagles to kites. If you could give one message to our readers, what would it be? Raptors are indicators of ecological health; the more we see in the sky the more healthy our land is. Do all you can to safeguard them and as apex predators they will safeguard you. Tel: (0718260748)


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TRAILBLAZING For a country as rich in wildlife as Kenya, there are plenty of conservancies and organisations doing great work in protecting wildlife and their habitat. Here are some of our top picks: PHOTOGRAPHS: BRIAN SIAMBI, BIG LIFE FOUNDATION

SERA CONSERVANCY Tracking black rhinos on foot in Sera Conservancy is a unique and thrilling experience that allows wildlife lovers to contribute to the protection of these critically endangered species. This is said to be the first time black rhinos are back in their habitat in the north after 30 years following a translocation, with a population of at least 13. One is almost guaranteed a sighting, with the highest number on record being six in one session. Tracking is done via both traditional skills and modern technology. A ranger will for instance use a GPS transmitter to search for a signal being sent from a microchip implanted in the horn of a black rhino, while a Samburu guide will shake a small cloth dispersing ash particles into the air, a method that was traditionally used to tell wind direction in order to keep one’s natural scent away from the rhino’s strong olfactory sense. You can also visit the wildlife sanctuary at feeding time to see calves that were either orphaned or abandoned by their mothers. For accommodation, we were set up at the luxury Saruni Rhino camp who helped plan our trip. www.saruni.com. RETETI WILDLIFE SANCTUARY Reteti was formed in the wake of the 2011 drought which hit Northern Kenya hard. Elephants were falling down wells, dying in conflict and from drought consequences. The community was simultaneously asking for assistance and opportunities. Tolerance levels were falling and human wildlife conflict increasing. With the full backing of the community, a partnership with a host of organisations such as Conservation International brought employment to the locals as custodians of their own heritage. Kenya Wildlife Service and Northern Rangelands Trust have also been invaluable partners. Everyday at dawn the keepers hand over medical instructions and little elephants on life support. Elephants rouse themselves from sheltered stables or from social groups that have huddled together

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in night bomas watched intently by their human guardians. The gates open and the day brings familiar smells, sounds and sights; a landscape of familiarity for a wounded elephant and one that is vital in rebuilding their desire to live. Midday brings the mud wallow followed by an afternoon of wild and stewarded freedom from which the elephants return home to a bottle of formula every three hours. Visitors are welcome to watch the animals via a viewing platform during feeding times. www.retetielephants.org

OL PEJETA CONSERVANCY As well as conserving wildlife, preserving wilderness and providing sanctuary to endangered species, Ol Pejeta has a host of activities bound to keep even the most active visitor happy. Those who are interested in their innovative conservation techniques can ‘get their hands dirty’ working behind the scenes with the rangers. Tracking lions, working with anti-poaching dogs, visiting the endangered species enclosure, participating in feeding time with the chimpanzees at their sanctuary and dropping in on the


CONSERVATION

ORGANISATIONS TO KNOW

local communities are just some of the ways rangers spend their days. For those who enjoy safari, there are many ways to view the animals and birds: game drives, bush walks, bird watching and more. For the most energetic of all, try a safari on horseback or mountain bike, stop for photos at the equator sign then slake your appetite with one of Morani Restaurant’s famed burgers or a healthy fresh salad. For anyone living in Nairobi, this is a great day trip to make on your next day off. We however spent the night, staying at Ol Pejeta Safari Cottages. www.olpejetaconservancy.org

Big Life Foundation- Protecting over 1.6 million acres of wilderness in the Amboseli-Tsavo-Kilimanjaro ecosystem, Big Life partners with local communities to protect nature for the benefit of all. Since its inception, it has expanded to employ hundreds of local Maasai rangers—with more than 30 permanent outposts and tent-based field units, 13 Land Cruiser patrol vehicles, 3 tracker dogs and 2 planes for aerial surveillance. Co-founded in September 2010 by photographer Nick Brandt, conservationist Richard Bonham and entrepreneur Tom Hill, Big Life was the first organization in East Africa to establish coordinated cross-border anti-poaching operations. www.biglife.org Born Free Foundation- They work tirelessly to ensure that all wild animals, whether living in captivity or in the wild, are treated with compassion and respect and are able to

live their lives according to their needs. Born Free promotes ‘compassionate conservation’ to enhance the survival of threatened species in the wild and protect natural habitats while respecting the needs and safeguarding the welfare of individual animals. Their nine working priorities include eliminating trophy and canned hunting, ending illegal wildlife trade as well as creating awareness. www.bornfree.org Maa Trust- Their goal is to ensure the success of conservation through sustainable community development in the Maasai Mara ecosystem. They work in partnership with Maasaiowned conservancies and their neighbouring communities to improve the lives of local families in an environmentally sustainable way. They have a wide range of projects that benefit the local landowners involved in conservation. These include schools, honey production, conservation education, beadwork, water and sanitation, health clinics and bursary programs. www.themaatrust.org

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OFF-GRID: THE NAMIBIAN WAY From its modern day Herero women in their colourful Victorian gowns to its wild horses and wondrous desert with petrified trees that survive for millions of years, Namibia is a place full of fascinating stories, landscapes and traditions. By: Dylan Evans Instagram: @dyl_evans

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amib" is the Khoekhoegowab (Nama) word for "vast" and the origin of the name of the country Namibia, formally South-West Africa. Vast, dry, inhospitable and hauntingly beautiful, the country was the destination of a 4,000km safari my wife Jojo and I embarked upon for our honeymoon in 2015. The two of us in our hired Land Rover Defender, packed to the gunwales with Western Cape’s best wine, crossed the border from South Africa at the Orange River. Once across the bridge we waved goodbye to the last sign of naturally flowing water for the rest of the odyssey. It was December and the temperature was frequently tipping 4°C. A lasting memory of this vast place, with its endless skies and tiny population, was encountering the visually contrasting but ethnically related Himba and Herero peoples. Linguistically both hail from Bantu speaking groups of east Africa though the Himba are thought to have split from the main Herero group on what is now the Namibia-Botswana border before heading west to present-day Kaokoland. The Himba perhaps only number around 50,000 in total but are undeniably one of the most photographed ‘Traditional African’ ethnic groups still in existence. The women in particular are famous for rubbing their bodies with otjize, a mixture of butter fat and ochre, believed to protect their skins against the harsh climate. The red mixture is said to symbolise earth's rich red colour and the blood that symbolises life. Their clothing comprises of little more than an animal skin loincloth covering their pudendum. A woman’s hair is dreaded with thick ochre at the roots and left free at the end so it resembles a pom pom. Once a woman has been married for a year or has had a child,

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she will wear the erembe headdress on top of her head, made from cow or goat leather. Before the Himba and Herero split they were almost certainly dressed in a similar fashion, however, modern day Herero women proudly don multi-layered, multicoloured, flowing Victorian gowns with accompanying headdress. Their historic semi-nakedness seemingly offended the pious sensibilities of the European missionaries who encouraged this uniquely beautiful dress that is seen today. The Herero suffered under German colonial rule, of that there is no question. As a semi-nomadic people they relied heavily on cattle herding for economic subsistence and societal status. This was at odds with the German colonial requirement to provide opportunities for settlers in ranching, farming and mining. This resulted in their near-extinction in what was arguably the first documented genocide of the 20th century. Despite this, the Herero persisted and today rank among Namibia’s best cattle farmers and businessmen. The Himba and Herero also share slight variations of the same belief system. They both worship their ancestors and the god Mukuru. Their homes surround an okuruwo (ancestral fire) and their livestock, both closely tied to their belief in ancestor worship. The fire represents ancestral protection and the livestock allows for correct relations between mortal and ancestor. Namibia is in many ways a perplexing environment. It is safe, stable and immensely well equipped for tourism due to the excellent transportation networks, reasonably priced boutique lodges and stunning camping sites. But the Namib Desert can feel isolated and is not for the faint hearted. By definition it is a waterless and desolate area with little or no vegetation. Coming from the relative abundance of flora and fauna in

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Once a woman has been married for a year or has had a child, she will wear the erembe headdress on top of her head, made from cow or goat leather.

East Africa, it can be overwhelming to the point of evoking madness. Personally I have always been drawn to the desert and derive comfort and nourishment from its wide open spaces. The Namib is the oldest desert in the world that allows escapism and the ability to start afresh every day with the rising sun. If you scratch below the surface and allow yourself to look closely, the desert is filled with many wonders. Petrified trees survive for 280 million years, endemic Welwitschia Mirabilis plants flourish for millennia due to intricate networks of roots close to the ground surface with a diameter of up to 30 metres, and the Dune Hairy-footed Gerbil is found here and nowhere else on earth. Amazingly this desert has also become the home of Africa’s only herd of feral horses. ‘The Wild Horses of the Namib’ are a spectacular anomaly that must be seen to be truly believed. Fluctuating in numbers between 80 and 300, they are under threat. Inconsistent rainfall and penetration from Clans of Hyena have almost decimated the

population. The origin of these fascinating creatures has been debated over time. What is almost certain is that they were separated from their German owners around the time of World War One. The most probable theory that I have come across relates to the mayor of Lüderitz from 1909 to 1914 – Emil Krepliin. The German administrator and equine enthusiast owned a stud farm at Kubub, south of Aus. Here, Kreplin bred workhorses for the mines and racehorses for the flourishing town of Lüderitz that had boomed in the diamond rush sparked in 1908. Kreplin was interred in the Union of South Africa during the war and never returned. It is assumed that during or after the war, the horses, ownerless and not contained by fences, would have begun to scatter, leaving the overgrazed Kubub area in search of better grazing and following the scattered rainfall. They would have eventually made their way to the permanent water source at Garub, becoming wilder over time and eventually mastering their environment. Namibia is a place full of fascinating stories and traditions. It offers great natural beauty and uniqueness at every corner. It is a place that should undoubtedly be on everyone’s bucket list. Dylan Evans is a fervent adventurer with a passion for challenging environments. Fascinated by wildlife and ornithology, he is at home in the bush and has extensive experience travelling across Africa both professionally and personally. Since leaving the UK Royal Marine Commandos, Dylan has worked his way through the ranks at one of the premier risk management and security firms in Africa, Salama Fikira, being appointed Managing Director by the age of 30.


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LANZERAC HOTEL & SPA

Granted a second-chance honeymoon in Cape Town after 14 years of marriage, Ami Doshi Shah and her husband revel in the opulence of Lanzerac Hotel & Spa where the wine, grown in the hotel’s very own estate, keeps flowing, and the elegant decor stuns.

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GREAT HOTEL

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5 minutes into our drive from Cape Town Airport to the Cape Wineland town of Stellenbosch, we had arrived at the pearly gates of heaven, metaphorically and figuratively. Without our kids and granted a second chance honeymoon after 14 years of marriage, my husband and I had apparently decided that we were going to relive our misspent youth as we rolled up to impossibly stunning grounds of the Lanzerac Hotel & Spa in our sexy Suzuki Celerio rental (South Africa‘ s equivalent of a Toyota Vitz) with D’Angelo’s Brown Sugar not so melodically blaring from the struggling speakers, reminiscent of a scene from Ali G. We obviously missed the words “EST 1692” emblazoned on either side of a pair of white pillars flanking a seemingly endless oak lined red brick avenue, the messaging an elegant proclamation that Cape history and fine heritage was Lanzarac Hotel & Spa’s alma mater. Needless to say that the valet service at the reception must have been side eyeing our pathetic attempts at clawing back our romantic youth of the 90’s as we sophisticatedly sipped (yes, pinky finger out) on our welcome glass of Lanzerac Methode Cap Claissique Blanc de Blanc, “fresh” from the estate’s vineyards, as we checked in. The first European settlers arrived in the Cape a mere four decades prior to the establishment of the property, in 1652, courtesy of the Dutch East India Company. Lanzerac is the third oldest farm in Stellenbosch then called Schoongezicht, meaning ‘wonderful view’ - an apt name for the property nestled in the Jonkershoek Valley. Just two years ago, a fire in the Manor House razed the building to a mound of ash and dust with just the hundreds year old brickwork standing proud, as soot covered monuments of what once was a legacy of over 350 years of Cape Wineland history. In a mind-boggling 13 months, with the assistance of interior designer, Con van der Colff, the Manor House was entirely rebuilt, now housing the elegant reception area, a stunning farm-house style open plan lounge with double height vaulted ceilings trussed by weathered pine. Velvet Chesterfield sofas snuggle around open fireplaces and intricately patterned tufted Persian rugs. The walls are flanked with traditionally gilt-framed vignettes of the surrounding mountains in oil on canvas and one large wood and glass cabinet with an array of silver chafing dishes, urns and ladles and antique blue porcelain dishes and serving bowls - perhaps objects that remained unscathed after the destructive fire, or perhaps static symbols of the history and wealth of those who resided here. It seems that the rebuilding after the fire gave the current owners the opportunity to revamp the 53 guest rooms, their conferencing facilities and the hospitality offering including the fine dining, Manor Kitchen, pub-style,

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GREAT HOTEL

Our big pimpin’ dreams had been realized, albeit in a place that oozed so much refinement that any notion of non-sophisticated behaviour may be a desecretion to this place!

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Taphuis, Craven Lounge and Lanzerac Deli. Each restaurant boasts delightfully conceived menus highlighting the incredible provenance of locally sourced ingredients for which South Africa (the Cape particularly) is deservedly renowned for. But the figurehead of every meal is the accompanying wine from Lanzerac’s Wine Estate, producing arguably some of the best wines in the region. At the Tasting Room, my husband and I perched ourselves around a toasty fireplace for a 9:00 am session of trying some of Lanzerac’s tipple. Guests of the hotel get a complimentary tasting of five wines from their Premium Range including their ‘highly lauded’ Pinotage and in my opinion, the ‘not too shabby’ Syrah. Two tastings in, all modicum of my civilized behaviour flew out the window when a Ploughman’s Platter from the adjoining Lanzerac Deli was served on the table. A smorgasbord of fresh bread, crackers, cheeses, cold cuts and pickles had me forgetting that we had literally just had breakfast twenty minutes before. My husband looked on in wide eyed amusement as I offered him a mouthful while I had another. I mean, don’t judge but where else is it socially condonable to drink wine for breakfast? Sophisticated wine tasters on the adjoining table were gently swirling their glasses, smelling, gargling and elegantly ‘disposing’ their wines into the stylish metal spittoon on the table. I, on the other hand, drank every single drop and some of the wine my husband didn’t finish. Hands up, I’m in the ‘Never Waste Good Wine’ camp. My enthusiasm for the wine tasting eventually led to me collapsing on our king sized bed for a mid-morning nap. In line with the boutique approach to hospitality, each of Lanzerac’s 53 rooms has its own aesthetic fingerprint. Our suite didn’t disappoint. Through a separate lounge, you walk through to find a room bursting with walls lined with floor to ceiling palm fronds and French doors leading to an expansive patio overlooking a private garden with fragrant jasmine and herbs. Oh. And a Jacuzzi. Yes. Our big pimpin’ dreams had been realized, albeit in a place that oozed so much refinement that any notion of non-sophisticated behaviour may be a desecration to this place! Too late. Despite the devastatingly intimidating beauty of Lanzerac, warm smiles and a professional yet affable manner in which the staff approach guests did further endear and put us at ease. In our 2 days at Lanzerac, we celebrated the chance to be together - a moment to be silly and pamper ourselves a little when “adulting” can sometimes make you forget how to appreciate each other. We experienced that, in a place of absolute luxury and perfection at every single turn. It felt indulgent, and it was. After all, if one year of marriage feels like a milestone then 14 years is the metaphorical equivalent of scaling Kilimanjaro. Barefoot.


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SANDSTORM: WHAT I PACK 2.

1. Tan Moshi Ksh15,900

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6.

4.

Daniel Charles Msirikale is an award-winning freelance photographer and creative consultant based in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania. With a focus on Tanzania’s less explored landscapes, Daniel seeks for his photography to inspire Africans to explore their own backyards.

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Instagram: @that_tanzanianguy 1. CAMERA For photography I use a Canon 5D mark IV with a 24-105 mm f/4 L lens, as well as a 50mm f1.8 prime lens. 2. A STORM OF SWORDS PART 2: BLOOD AND GOLD BY GEORGE R. R. MARTIN I always carry this book around but for some odd reason, have actually never read it. 3. ALOHA SHIRTS I think these are the only types of shirts I own. The best ones I have are actually from Gikomba. 4. TOILETRY KIT With the basics; toothbrush, toothpaste, body lotion (no one likes to look ashy), Axe/ Old Spice body spray (no one likes to smell like a dead fish),

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cold medicine, lip balm and a couple of contact lens cases and a solution. 5. A JAMESON HIP FLASK. I always refill this before a trip just in case I get cuts I need to sterilize. 6. NEEWER SLING CAMERA BAG This is of course the most essential item I carry, and I got it from Amazon. It is waterproof, has padded interior dividers, is portable and fits my camera, a couple of lenses and all the little accessories I need. 7. A LITTLE JOURNAL I have only recently started carrying a journal around. I find it much more practical to record my thoughts into that than in my phone’s notes. I never go back to those.


NAIROBI: The Hub, Junction, Sarit Centre, Village Market, Yaya Centre, Westgate

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NOTES FROM THE BUSH

A DOGGO’S

GREAT ADVENTURES

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Having seen her family through major milestones out in the wilderness, Samantha Du Toit’s Jack Russell terrier may be gone but not many canine companions would have as many stories to tell as he did. o we now know how the story ends. But how did it begin, and what did it entail? The journey of a small Jack Russell terrier born in Watamu, and his subsequent bush exploits, was always something I had intended to write about

someday… Diesel, named so as to give a big name to a small dog, had numerous adventures with our family but one stands out more than most. Our constant companion, and a silent one most of the time, Diesel was best known for having his head stuck out the window of a driving car, often on the driver’s lap, surveying the land rushing by. A favourite game was to grab at passing bushes, delighted when he brought his catch of leaves into the car. One day we were camping with researcher colleagues by the river in Shompole trying to spot some elusive lions that they were studying. All night we had heard the lions calling around us and

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therefore left camp at four in the morning to look for them. After hours of circling around in the dust and the dark, pretending to know where we were and frustrated to see fresh lion tracks on top of our car tracks as we came to the same set of bushes again, dawn was breaking. We drove back to a narrow clearing by the river to take stock. Parking the car in between two bushes, half the party decided to get out and look along the river banks for fresh tracks, probably unwise in retrospect. Diesel followed, but his nose took him to the bushes next to the car. He stopped, sniffed and then let out a low, uncharacteristic growl. The growl that returned turned my blood cold. The bushes exploded and three lionesses hurtled out, luckily in the opposite direction to the river and Diesel. Everyone was frozen to their spots inside and outside the car, while Diesel casually hopped back in the open door and sat in the driver’s seat, waiting for the next move. It is hard to count the number of times

we could have lost Diesel. He ran ahead on walks, warning us of spitting cobras, buffalo and even wild dogs on one occasion. Our car was his second home, a place he was happy as he knew he was with us on some expedition or other. He even grew to love swimming, to cool off in the intense February heat of the South Rift. In his twilight years, sixteen years on from puppyhood, Diesel quietly slipped away and left a large hole in our lives. Having seen us through major milestones in our lives, including marriage, two children and setting up our lives in the wilderness, he left us to continue on without him, but content in the knowledge that not many canine companions have as many stories to tell as he does. Samantha du Toit is a wildlife conservationist, working with SORALO, a Maasai land trust. She lives with her husband, Johann, and their two children at Shompole Wilderness, a tented camp in the Shompole Conservancy.


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Masai Mara to

Zanzibar via Wilson Airport

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Last Stripes - Lewa Wildlife Conservancy