Bush Drums

 

Bush Drums November 2005


Respect thy fellow… Horse? One time intern and enthusiastic Animal Orphanage supporter Franziska Schoeller from Berlin, Germany, sent us this good advice on how to earn the respect (and obedience) of our equine friends. Turns out that she has named her new horse after one of Mount Kenya’s peaks: Lenana. Says Franziska: “My new horse is so huge, when mounting her I always feel reminded of my climb up to point Lenana, on beautiful Mount Kenya.” Franziska feels old fashioned “breaking” of a horse is unwise if not cruel, she believes in earning the respect and confidence of your horse. “By sending her away and letting her come close, gently but always at your demand the horse will come to accept you as the chief (of the...

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Bush Drums March 2005


Forest on Fire! While February and March brings us some of the finest weather for visitors on safari, for the local population of humans and animals alike it is probably the worst time of the year. Still lush and green at Christmas, we are now looking out on a dry landscape, wilting bush and sparse grasslands. The days seem longer, the unforgiving warm wind relentlessly wringing out the last drops of moisture left in the surviving vegetation. Photos courtesy of Bongo Woodley The animals too appear sluggish, preserving what energy they have left to last until the live giving rains appear in dark rolling clouds on the horizon. There is no trouble from marauding Elephants on the mountain now. The huge pachyderms too prefer to rest deep in the coolness of the valley...

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Bush Drums February 2005


Birdbrain? Our friend Denis Murphy found this ‘jewel’ in a Mexican newspaper recently: Bored Royal Air Force pilots stationed on the Falklands Islands have devised what they consider a marvellous new game. Noting that the local penguins are fascinated by airplanes, the pilots search out a beach where the birds are gathered and fly slowly along it at water’s edge. Perhaps 10,000 penguins turn their heads in unison watching the planes go by, and when the pilots turn around and fly back the birds turn their heads in the opposite direction, like spectators at a slow motion tennis match. Then, the paper reports, the pilots fly out to sea and directly to the penguin colony and over fly it. Heads go up, up, up, and ten thousand penguins fall over...

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Bush Drums November 2004


Coffee and Cookies for Conservationists! That is what Susan has in store for you when you visit our newly opened Mount Kenya Wildlife Conservancy Office. Conveniently located at Mount Kenya Safari Club, this is where your e-mail is answered, new members are signed up, and you may find your friend’s picture on the wall, rubbing shoulders with celebrities. Susan Njoki, no stranger to those that knew her as a secretary at the Game Ranch, has been employed as the Conservancy’s public relations officer. Susan is thrilled with her new position and proud to be a part of a truly Kenyan effort to preserve our heritage. She works closely with Bunge, the Wildlife Manager to keep up on all the Critter news, so why not visit and find out the latest. Susan will...

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Bush Drums June 2004


Baby Patas monkey As the first rays of sun reached the Orphanage one morning the last day of April, a surprise was waiting for us in the Patas clan: A new arrival. We do, as yet not know the sex of the little one, so closely guarded by her mom. Her two older sisters are visibly delighted to help take care of the infant. Together with their mother, they make sure the little one is never far from help or a reassuring cuddle, our staff have noted. Also, there seems to be a noted absence of family squabbles in the Patas troupe. What a fine example of a family for us “superior” mammals. Our Very Special Thank You Goes To: The J.L. Foundation of the United States for their generous and timely grant for the construction of a Cheetah breeding facility At the...

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Bush Drums April 2004


Easter Sunday The flowers and shrubs were still heavy with the night’s rain. Reluctant to get dressed I went outside with the dogs, still in my dressing gown, the luxury of a holiday. Thousands of tiny wet prisms were teasing the sun, a gift from the rain. The air was sparkling clean. It made the peaks of Mount Kenya seem much closer. Suddenly I saw a movement at the end of the garden. The Hibiscus bush parted to reveal the head of a big male bongo. Staring at me, caught in surprise, he didn’t move. ‘That’s why the dogs were barking on and off during the night’ I thought. Of course I recognized the old Bull. We had called him ‘Jamhuri’ when he was born to our herd some 7 years earlier on Jamhuri (Republic)...

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Bush Drums March 2004


Stef’s home! Another beautiful clear morning on the slopes of Mount Kenya in March saw the arrival home of busy actress and friend Stefanie Powers. While here, Stefanie will help the Mount Kenya Wildlife Conservancy raise funds for its conservation projects. Giant Move The President of Kenya, Hon. Mwai Kibaki gave a directive to relocate some 400 Elephants from the Shimba Hills Game Reserve to the Northern Tsavo East National Park. The Kenya Wildlife Service has done such a good job in preserving its Elephant population recently that some of the smaller parks are ‘bursting at the seams’ -so-to-speak. The growing Elephant populations are spilling over into human settlements, causing great damage. As a result the defenseless human population is...

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Bush Drums February 2004


Beauty and the beast Remember little Karen the bushbuck rescued after its mother fell victim to a leopard early last year? Karen has grown into an especially beautiful “teenager”. She has ventured out onto the Game Ranch, as yet unnoticed by our resident population of male bushbuck. Each time Karen has returned to the company of her wild friends at the animal Orphanage, the only home she can remember. Karen is a much photographed buck. It is not just her trusting gentle manner, visitors always comment on her graceful beauty, her shiny velvet coat especially. One morning recently I was lucky to stumble upon “Karen’s secret”. She has her own beauty routine!! At first light, while any would be visitors are still in sweet slumber,...

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Bush Drums January 2004


A huge container arrived by sea and lorry carrying 20 tons of Stay Tite fencing, the latest technology in Game fencing. Unfortunately, the day it arrived the seasonal rains broke and the lorry promptly got stuck in the soaked tracks on the ranch. Thanks to the never ending enthusiasm of our crew, the lorry was ‘dug’ out and able to drop the container the following day. The next problem arose when the government, in their noble efforts to preserve our forests slammed an overnight ban on the sale of all timber in order to get the tree poaching under control. I am not sure how Don worked his magic finding bits of legal timber left here and there. The job got done despite the rains which hit us with increasing force and the crews claim they grew webbed...

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Bush Drums December 2003


Last month we were honored with the visit of popular Columbus Zoo Director and TV Personality Jack Hanna and Julie Scardina of Bush Gardens / Sea World. Jack, a regular visitor to the Ranch, met with Don Hunt to discuss the Bongo Repatriation program. While here he was able to “meet” our resident herd of rare Mountain Bongo, and filmed them for his popular TV show to help the good cause. Thanks to American Zoos and the Rare Species Conservatory Foundation, United Nations and the Mount Kenya Game Ranch, 20 of the American born descendents of the rare Mountain Bongo are flying back to Kenya soon to be re-rehabilitated to form the nucleus of a herd to be re-introduced on the Mountain here. Watch “Jack Hanna’s Animal Adventures” in the...

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Bush Drums October 2003


A new hybrid is born at the Animal Orphanage On June 30, in the afternoon, Michael Nganga, senior Lecturer of our Wildlife Education Center lead a group of Kenyan 4th graders through the Orphanage. While the students were taught the anatomy of an Elephant, Michael noticed that he was losing their attention to the monkey enclosure nearby. Michael took a moment to glance over at what the interruption might be, and there it was: A minute wet little monkey, just born cradled safely in the arms of her mother, ‘Tabby’ the Olive Baboon. The students were fascinated. Michael quickly summoned the Orphanage keepers led by the Wildlife Manager Bunge. All stared in disbelieve… not only was this little ‘gift from God’ unexpected, it was also not...

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Bush Drums September 2003


New Wildlife Manager If you have visited recently you may have met our new Wildlife Manager Donald Bunge. “Bunge” as he likes to be called, comes with a degree in Wildlife Management. He has a great love for animals and is very enthusiastic about making his mark in saving Kenya’s rich wildlife heritage. We are proud to have him with us. Meanwhile, Peter Kennedy, The Mt. Kenya Game Ranch General Manager has left us to spend more time developing his small farm on Laikipia. We are sorry to see him, wife Gillie and son Lorian leave. We wish them all the best for the future. Recently the Game Ranch was the colorful scene of more than 100 women cutting out acres of “bad” grass that threatened to swart the more nutritious “good”...

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Bush Drums August 2003


Surprise at Hyrax Rock At last, our pair of Rock Hyrax, “Rex” and “Regina” has started a family. It came as a total surprise. I had noticed that Regina was not out and about as much and Rex seemed to spend more time on his favorite rock, sunning. She certainly didn’t ‘show.’ When I did see her she took less time feeding and sunning, but she looked well, so I didn’t know what to make of it. Then suddenly, one day while I was waiting for her to appear, I saw a tiny and shiny little black button nose peaking out from one of the rocky crevices. Soon there were other tell-tale noses popping up. After a few more days the most adorable tiny little furry balls jumped all over the rocks. Counting proved difficult as they...

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Bush Drums July 2003


Shamba Raiders Earlier this year a group of 5 Sykes Monkeys from the Animal Orphanage were taken high into the Mount Kenya forest for release. The group consisted of one dominant male, one young immature male, and three young females. They knew each other well and had shared quarters. When they were ready for release with the previous group, the oldest of the females gave birth. We kept her and the baby behind with her small group until the baby was old enough to take the stress of adjustment to life in the wild. In May we had an unusual visit. A huge group of approximately 50 Sykes Monkeys of all sizes visited our gardens where we grow animal foods. They spent most of the day eating vegetables raised for their 3 relatives left behind. We finally...

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Bush Drums June 2003


Incident at the Monkey Boma Remember Gaspar, our rare and beautiful Spot Nose Guenon Monkey? Well anyway, he was in a spot of trouble recently, as I discovered after rushing to the Orphanage in response to a late night radio call. The monkey had been injured by an African Caracal cat, a new resident in the adjoining boma. No one saw it happen – whether the monkey reached out or the cat reached in. Gaspar’s hand was badly damaged, with a deep gash torn in the flesh by the feline’s sharp teeth, tendons torn and bone visible. All we could do was stop the bleeding, temporarily treat the wound and inject antibiotics. The following day we drove him to a veterinary clinic 40 miles away. There a very competent Dr. Kingori sutured the hand. After a...

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Bush Drums May 2003


This season has bought long awaited signs of special blessings to many members of the Luo community in western Kenya. Omens of a bounteous harvest and general good fortune are manifest. And one significant “oracle” is a fat, 14ft. python, affectionately known as Omweri (a welcome guest). Omweri unexpectedly sought refuge in the home of an actually delighted Mr. Okumu. She had made a nest and laid many eggs, which she carefully guards under the thick coils of her belly. Removal of the serpent could only spell doom, the village Elders decided. Omweri must be made welcome, fed and otherwise cosseted like the important guest she is. The Okumu family has therefore dutifully seen to the snake’s every need. They built a shed for shade and, as laid down...

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Bush Drums April 2003


Believe it or not: This just in from the University of Cambridge: Scientist there now believe that we may be closer related to the AARDVARK than was previously supposed. Bet you never thought of this nocturnal creature? But according to the Cambridge boffins, we share a great many more chromosomes with the long nosed ant-eating Aadvark than with other mammals. Anybody with a genetic memory out there ?? Kenya There is nothing better than that feeling of being “on top of the world”. On your way through the area, why not plan to have a picnic on majestic Mount Kenya. There are several tracks leading up to the moorlands just under the peaks. One is the Naro Moru track. From the village of Naro Moru you can drive up to the Met. Station and take a 1 to 2...

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