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PHALANX
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In January 2002 a sensational story broke regarding a Lioness who had adopted a Oryx calf.

This astonishing event happened in Samburu Kenya. The local Samburu had named the lioness Kamunyak, the blessed one.

By the time we arrived in Samburu in October she had adopted four calves and since the fourth calf there had been no more news on any further adoptions, so we arrived without expectation, just a little disappointed of having missed such a sensational event.

Samburu is our favourite park. It's scenic beauty sets it apart from others, though Meru comes a close second, and we always feel at home when we are here. The whole reserve area actually comprises of Samburu & Buffalo springs reserves, one separated from the other by the Uwaso nyiro river (Brown water), but connected by a bridge near to Samburu Serena lodge where we were staying. Our first few days were very rewarding with good sightings of Samburu's famous northern species, Grevy Zebra, Gerenuk, Somali Ostrich, Beisa Oryx and the most beautiful of Africa's Giraffe, the reticulated. Birdlife was prolific, as it often is in dry country, with a good selection of eagles and even an Egyptian Vulture, and Elephant sightings were also very good.

Our forth morning continued in the same vein with Elephant crossing the Ewaso Nyiro river, but then we came across one of Samburu's many Leopards and it was only 7.15am. We left the leopard resting in an Acacia tree up along the ridge and headed down onto the plain which once was home to black Rhino who fed on the Croton bushes when we first came here. As we ambled along enjoying the beautiful scenery reflecting on what a lovely morning it had been, Leonard our driver stopped the vehicle and reaching for his binoculars said "Alan, look at the small Acacia tree ahead, then to the left, there is something at the bottom of the bush". I found the bush and yes, there was a Lion. "yes, I see it Leonard" I said, and he replied "not the Lion, to the right of it". Looking again I saw something move and thought it must be a cub and said "yes she has a cub". "No" came the reply, "look again". This time it stood up, turned around and laid down again, this time clear of the bush. By now my wife had found it and in a whispered breath said "oh my goodness it's a baby Oryx".

Yes, it really was. We sat there for what seemed like an age in total disbelief, then reality sank in and with camera at the ready we move as close as the road would allow us, and although with binoculars we could see perfectly, it was not ideal for the camera, but this was not a time for regrets. When we left the UK it was with our usual expectation of, you see what you see, and with no thought of seeing such an incredible moment in nature, especially as there had been no more news since the adoptions earlier in the year. This would be her fifth adoption and if I am honest, there were times I could so easily have cried with the sheer joy of being so blessed in witnessing something so monumental.

I asked Leonard if he knew the Lioness had adopted another baby Oryx? "No, no" he said, "I am as amazed at seeing this as you are". I only took a few photos as it seemed to make more sense to try and take in every minute detail of what was before us, and to enjoy what would surely be a once in a life time event.

When we arrived back at the lodge our good friend June Kyula (manager) was in reception and asked us if we had had a good drive?..... She contacted the ranger station and passed on what we had told her, Leonard gave them the approximate position and we spent the whole of breakfast going over & over every detail.

We checked on them during each game drive we took, and June was there that afternoon as was everyone else. Thankfully the lodges were not to busy so disturbance was kept to a minimum, and the rangers made sure it stayed that way.

On our last evening Leonard drove to a high point in the Buffalo springs reserve which over looked Samburu. It was a beautiful spot with views of the Ewaso Nyiro river lined with Doum palm's which cast their long shadows towards the hills with Mount Longonot in the distance and the sun setting behind us. We were totally mesmerised by the scene that lay before us, and it was the clinking of glasses that brought us back to reality. June had arranged a sundowner for us on our last night at Samburu Serena before we moved on to Ol Pejeta conservancy. It was the perfect finish to what will always be our most memorable safari moment

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  • 2 weeks later...

@@PHALANX Unreal. I'm enjoying your memories and images from long ago.

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I just loved this story as well as your superb photos. The story about the lioness who adopted a baby oryx is proof that you'll see the most unimaginable things on safari; fact is stranger than fiction. It reminds of the video I saw of a female leopard which killed a female baboon. She then climbed a tree with her prey, when a baby baboon fell out of it's mother womb still attached by the umbilical cord, she lost all interest in her prey and let the mother body fall from the tree!!! She tried to care for the baby baboon like it was her own cub. It was simply surreal.

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I read about this story before, and was told about it in Samburu, but it´s great hearing from somebody who actually witnessed it - and even got photos. Fantastic story. :)

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