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Bush dog

Kenya, a quarter of a century ago

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Bush dog

AMBOSELI

 

Rhinos, at least one that I saw, were (was) present. I did not see one in 1994 but I guess they had already disappeared from the park. I saw this black rhino several times. On one occasion, it was harassed by two hooligans. One of them was the son of the owner of one of the lodges. These two wealthy young men were taking an unhealthy pleasure, while shouting and gesticulating, to pursue the terrified animal and force it, with their vehicle, to have a circular race. This was of course reported to the game warden. The two young men, with an influential father, were immediately asked to leave the park and return home in Nairobi. Their punishment was probably limited to that. I guess that nowadays such a disgusting and irresponsible behavior would be more heavily penalized.

 

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Cheetahs were also there. Like the rhino, no more sighting in 1994. We almost spent a whole game drive, following those two cheetahs. They even made a kill.

 

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Though we did not see any lions during the two visits, they were present but they had a lot of problems with the Masai.

 

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Zebras.

 

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Bush dog

AMBOSELI

 

To close this chapter, some pictures of hyenas only, from 1994.

 

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The pack of hyenas killed the zebra foal, the "wild dog way", meaning they first isolated the young zebra from the rest of the herd and then tore their prey apart. This shows that hyenas are not only scavengers but also hunters. This being said, it’s the only time that I witnessed this behavior.

 

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michael-ibk

Wow a Hyena hunt - can´t remember anyone here on ST having witnessed that - very lucky! :)

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Marks

That is a fantastic sighting and a memory to treasure.

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Bush dog

TSAVO

 

It was decided to go from Amboseli to Tsavo West by the road running alongside the border. Attacks on tourists had been reported. So Joseph asked to a police officer to escort us to the next lodge. I suspect that it was a non-official demand. Indeed, the officer was in civilian clothes with his tommy gun hidden in a kraft paper bag. It was plausible, Joseph, with his military past had certainly a few relations in the police and army. During the whole trip, I could not help but feel a little like the goat tied to a stake to attract the tiger. We arrived , without incident, at Kilaguni Lodge (another state property, now Serena). Then we went to Tsavo East at Voi Lodge (was and still is a state property).

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The view from Kilaguni.

 

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The red elephants.

 

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In 1994, we went first to Taita Hills Game Lodge (now Sarova Salt Lick), where we saw cheetahs.

 

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Then we moved to Tsavo Safari Camp, a basic camp along the river Galana.

 

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michael-ibk

The need of an armed escort must certainly take away some of the safari fun. Did you know that in advance, or was Tsavo considered safe at the time of booking?

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Bush dog

@@michael-ibk

 

If I remember quite well, somali bandits were active in the north of Kenya but also in the north of Tsavo but were not expected to be so far south. That part of Tsavo was considered to be safe at time of booking.

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Marks

That certainly adds an element of excitement that I'd guess you would have rather done without. But you persisted and, it seems, continued to have great wildlife experiences.

Edited by Marks

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Safaridude

@@Bush dog

 

This is absolutely fantastic. Thank you.

 

In 1991, we did that drive from Amboseli to Tsavo (Kilaguni Lodge) when the banditry was just beginning to percolate there. There was a rule back then to travel in a caravan. And we had a policeman with a not-so-concealed weapon (AK or equivalent) traveling with us. We felt very safe until he started to doze off! Luckily, we hit a volcanic patch, and the humps and bumps woke him up!

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PT123

@Bush dog

 

I totally agree with @@Safaridude - this is an absolutely fantastic report. it is interesting to compare how things are now versus as how they were at that time. As a somewhat frequent visitor to Kenya over the past few years I certainly notice how things have changed in the reserves/conservancies (for the better in some cases) and with the security situation so this adds another perspective for me. Thank you! Also, as the photos were taken using film they have a nice (almost postcard like) quality. Cheers!

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Bush dog

Then we went to the coast in Diani and in 1994, north of Mombasa, at Serena.

 

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The last day, we went to Mombasa for our domestic flight to Nairobi.  When we arrived at the airport, we ended up in an indescribable chaos.  Indeed, Mr Arap Moi was visiting Mombasa and the airspace was about to be closed because it was soon be taken by his plane.  Everyone, more than hundred people, was trying to clear a path to the single check-in desk to get the last available places in the last flight that was leaving Mombasa before closure of airspace.  After some talking and having presented some convincing arguments , we managed to get the two places we needed.  The luggage was checked through to our final destination and, so as not to waste time, we received the boarding passes for both flights and the emigration formalities were completed.  Unfortunately, it was not the end of our problems.  Indeed, in Nairobi’s airport, arrived at the departure gate , we were not allowed to board because the registration staff, in Mombasa, simply did not join the original ticket coupons to the boarding passes.  We desperately  tried to convince the employees to let us board, telling them that our luggage was probably already in the aircraft.  To no avail, the plane took off without us but well with our luggage.  In the meanwhile, the airspace in Mombasa had been reopened and the hundred of tourists was arriving in Nairobi, but too late to catch their international flights.  So, we were all driven to the hotel Panafric by bus and it was said to us that available places would be found, the day after, on international flights.  But the day after,  all the flights were full and so it was for the week to come.  They finally found a solution.  After two nights, Kenya Airways brought back an aircraft which was on maintenance elsewhere and we all boarded to Heathrow, where we spent the night before taking off to our final destination where our luggage had arrived two days before.  One more thing, one was entitled to a number of free phone calls that I had in no way exceeded.  To my surprise, on leaving the hotel, the front desk clerk asked me to pay a significant amount for excess calls.  I flatly refused to pay that sum and left without looking back, not without saying that the foriegn tourist was not a game to pluck.  No one tried to stop me.  
   In 1994, I again experienced some minor but repeated small harassments, like an immigration officer trying palpably to extort money, pretending that there was a problem with my passport whereas there was absolutely no.  This generated in me a general feeling of setting Kenya aside.  That’s why I only came back 14 years after and everything, except some misunderstanding with the local TA, proceeded normally.  http://safaritalk.net/topic/15330-kenya-july-2008/ I came back in May 2012.  It also was the subject of my first report on this forum. http://safaritalk.net/topic/13073-kenya-masai-mara-in-may/  I did not mention, in this report, that at Wilson I refused to pay for excess baggage and said by phone to the local TA that, in this case, I wanted to go by road.  He then talked with the airport clerk and after ten minutes, I was allowed to board without paying.  I refused to pay because the aircraft was half-empty and also because I knew that on the return flight, they do not even weigh your luggage.  Obviously security is a major concern only for the outbound flight?  What hypocrisy, if there is really a danger for the security, the excess weight or size should not be allowed on board, like I have seen it done in Maun.  A lady had two huge hard Samsonite suitcases.  The pilot forced her to charter a second flight only for her luggage.     This is the end of this report.  I would like to thank all those who have shown interest for it as well as those who added one or more comments:  @[member=Atravelynn], @[member=michael-ibk], @[member=madaboutcheetah], @[member=Marks], @[member=Safaridude], @[member=Tom Kellie], @[member=Treepol], @[member=PT123], @[member=TonyQ], @[member=Alexander33].  

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Tom Kellie

~ @@Bush dog

 

Reading your commentary and savoring the images has been a learning experience.

For a relative greenhorn or ‘newbie’ in Africa, there's so much background context missing.

This report filled in facts, trends, impressions, which made it possible to better understand where the Kenya of today originated.

Many thanks!

Tom K.

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Safaridude

@@Bush dog

 

Aaaaah, extortion attempts at airports in Africa… We ST members should compile them and make a book out of it…

 

I think around the time of your trip, Kenya was really bad.

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PT123

@@Bush dog

 

A very good finish to your report - I hope that you plan on going back to Kenya the "pros" far outweigh the "cons" in my opinion. Also, nice font on the final installment. Did you pull out the old Selectric typewriter and then Xerox a copy to be posted?

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Bush dog

@@PT123

 

Thanks a lot! Indeed, the "pros" outweigh the "cons", but despite Kenya is certainly the most interesting country in Africa, because of its greatest wildlife diversity, I still have to it an unconscious negative a priori. I'm not actually planning on going back. Indeed, getting old and because of health problems that I had in 2015 (it was the first year since 1980 without at least one trip), I do not know how many more years, I'l be able to make far-away travels. So, I will instead tend to prefer trips to places that I love and where I feel good, like Barranco Alto, Ruaha & Selous or Botswana. I'm not anymore focused on the fact that I absolutely have to see jaguars, wild dogs, cheetahs or leopards and keep accounts of their sightings. My priorities are now remote places and far fom the raging crowds.

 

Concerning the font, I copied the text (Calibri) that I had beforehand drafted on a Word document and pasted it on ST and it appeared automatically as is.

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Bush dog

@@Safaridude

 

Once more, thanks a lot! It's of course not the only extortion attempt I have lived, but not only in Africa, in Asia also. Kenya was really bad, indeed and, to a lesser extent, still is.

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douglaswise

@@Bush dog:

 

I entirely empathise when you write that your "priorities are remote places and far from raging crowds". My time as a long distance traveller is also nearing its end. Having said that, my wife and I are off to the Mara (4 nights at Porini Mara and 4 at Porini Lion) after an interval of 50 years. I'm apprehensive that it won't live up to the memories of our earlier experience. We are then going off to Barranco Alto (Pantanal) for 13 nights in late May and early June to game view, fly fish and soak up the general experience of life in a remote environment. Your posts on Safaritalk were a major, but not sole, reason for planning this trip. My next - and possibly final plan - is to take my grandchildren on their first African wildlife adventure before I pass my sell by date. For financial reasons, this will probably be to South Africa.

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Marks

I have to echo @@Tom Kellie and thank you, @@Bush dog, for giving us a glimpse into the past that was a great learning experience. I hope there will be more to come from your many experiences.

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Bush dog

@@Tom Kellie

 

And Many thanks! to you

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Bush dog

@@Marks

 

Many thanks to you also. The well is not yet dried up. There will be more to come but only trips done more than 10 years ago. The pictures will mostly be scans from slides.

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Tom Kellie

...my wife and I are off to the Mara (4 nights at Porini Mara and 4 at Porini Lion) after an interval of 50 years.

 

~ @@douglaswise

 

Are you visiting Porini Mara and Porini Lion this month (January, 2016) or next month?

It's very good to know that you'll revisit the Mara.

I hope that you and your wife will have an enjoyable visit.

Tom K.

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douglaswise

@ Tom Kellie:

 

We'll be flying out to Kenya on 20th Feb.

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Tom Kellie

@ Tom Kellie:

 

We'll be flying out to Kenya on 20th Feb.

 

~ @@douglaswise

 

Thank you for telling me your schedule.

Your visit to Porini Lion sounds as though it will occur immediately following @@bettel's week-long stay at Porini Lion.

I'm really hoping that you'll have many excellent sightings at both Porini camps.

Tom K.

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Kitsafari

@@Bush dog i came late to your trip down memory lane, and once again, it's been so enlightening and interesting to see and read how different kenya was back then - both the good and the bad.

 

i've always enjoyed your incredible nostalgic and historical trips, and I hope you are planning more! what is next?

 

I too love the hyena series, and you were so lucky to witness their hunting skills. I know some people think it's savage to eat the prey alive, but that doesn't take away their amazing hunting skills. they do what they need to survive.

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Bush dog

@@Kitsafari

 

Thanks a lot!

 

Some people look at and judge animal behavior with the eyes and rules of the human society. This is absolute nonsense. Hyenas, and wild dogs also, not only do what they need but also what they are capable of to survive.

 

The next report will relate a trip made in 2003 in Botswana and South Africa, the first part of it being self driving.

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