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Biko

Now this is an exiting adventure, and beautiful pictures.

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Kitsafari

I can just imagine you in the swooping plane, Sangeeta Streep. :) just sorry for that moment that took a bit of shine off, but surely not enough to erase memories of that exciting flight. 

 

I've never seen rhinos fight so fiercely before. that must have been quite a sight. hopefully both weren't too injured. 

and what an astounding scene of 2 males taking down that eland giant!

 

 

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Sangeeta
Posted (edited)

Quiz: Do you need a Covid test to enter/exit Tanzania? :ph34r:

 

Well, not unless you enter Tanzania from Kenya, or not unless your airline requires it, or not unless your departure/arrival destination requires it. Or not unless the authorities change their mind at the very last minute (as happened to us).

 

On arriving in Kenya, we found the place was rife with rumors about President Magufuli (a Covid skeptic). Was he ill? Some said he was in Nairobi. No, no, said others, he had been flown to India for treatment, etc. Turns out that Magufuli had not been seen in public for weeks and there were rumors that he and many of his generals were all infected and very sick. On March 18, whilst still at Lewa, we heard the official announcement of his death. And now suddenly, Tanzania wanted a test for arriving passengers (although this requirement seems to have been lifted yet again).

 

We were headed from Lewa to Nanyuki, where Laikipia Wilderness was scheduled to meet us & drive us to LWC. Since I knew that Nanyuki had a testing lab, we opted to do the test there, so that we would have a test result within 96 hours of departing Kenya. The tech did a nasal swab test (USD 100), and we went our respective ways. The test was conducted inside our car (not in a lab setting), and so perhaps that had something to do with the fiasco that was to follow….but first let’s enjoy Laikipia Wilderness Camp :D 

 

The Dogs on the Hearth at Laikipia Wilderness Camp

 

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Since its inception, LWC has been one of my favorite little camps in Africa. I was first here in 2013 and it was a perfect little  bush camp then. Eight years later, it is still is, though now comfortably faded around the edges with age.

 

I was thrilled to see Buster and Boris as we drove in - the 2 family dogs were still making the rounds and greeting visitors, I had not expected to see them at all. Buster was top dog back in 2013 and he was holding on to that alpha spot still. Boris, the Rhodesian Ridgeback puppy was all grown up now in 2021 but goofy as ever. In fact, 2 new dogs had joined the pack, including an adorable little needle-toothed chocolate lab pup and a somewhat aloof (until he let you pet him) dog called Trigger. It has always been all about dogs at LWC and long may that magic last!

 

 

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As some of you may remember, in 2017 there was a terrible drought in Kenya, which eventually resulted in livestock herders invading private lands for access to good grazing. Along with the cattle came domesticated dogs, and in no time at all, canine distemper had raged like wildfire through the wild dog population of Laikipia and the entire population of the area had pretty much been decimated. In fact, all the seven packs studied by Ngatia, an ecologist at Laikipia’s Mpala Research Centre, died during this time. As did the packs at Ol Jogi.

 

https://phys.org/news/2017-09-wildlife-price-kenya-illegal-grazing.html

 

https://www.rufford.org/projects/dedan-ngatia/protecting-human-and-wildlife-health-during-political-upheaval-rabies-and-canine-distemper-in-rural-kenya/

 

The Phoenix Pack rises from the Ashes

 

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When the carnage was over, there was 1 female dog left on the ranch. She survived against all odds (and because of the abundant availability of prey dikdik) until she met up with 2 wandering males and these 3 banded together to form the nucleus of new pack. Tragedy struck again when the new alpha male was killed by a leopard (am I right @VikramGhanekar – and do you have any images/stories from your visit that you could share?). At that point, the second of the 2 males took over as alpha male, and here is a beautiful portrait of that handsome, tenacious survivor, taken last month by Dave.

 

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https://medium.com/@exploreorg/african-wild-dogs-new-litter-means-they-are-on-the-comeback-trail-30fea9cd718d

 

https://mpala.org/rise-of-the-wild-dog-phoenix-pack/

 

The alpha female was heavily pregnant and went into den 1 or 2 days before we arrived, so we despaired that perhaps we would not see the dogs at all. But luck was with us…. The yearlings were curious, spontaneous, naughty and altogether gorgeous! I used to prefer the lighter coats of the southern African wild dogs, but seeing what these chaps have gone through, I am partial to their dark coats now :D 

 

A few doggie portraits for your viewing pleasure…

 

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Some LWC highlights:

 

-          The whole pack playing at the dam one afternoon, mock charging everything that came their way, including ellies and an adult Grevy’s.

 

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-          Spotted hyenas at an eland kill with a lion chased up a tree; also saw the beginnings of 2 clans getting ready to go to war over the carcass.

 

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-          A leopard-dikdik hunt.

 

 

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-          Mr Crocodile Dundee with Mr Puff Adder.

 

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-          Lovely large flocks of cobalt-colored vulturine guinea fowl.

 

 

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Steve (Carey) was busy with a student group in Turkana when we arrived (though we met on the last day), so the other Steve was assigned to us during our stay. He was a superb guide, really terrific. A quiet man who knows every inch of the terrain, he was an excellent tracker & spotter as well, and familiar enough with the wild dogs to anticipate their behavior.

 

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We spent a lovely afternoon with the dogs at the dam, and had hoped to see them the following day as well (our last full day at LWC), but… oh no, no, were we all done with those wretched Covid tests? Not yet, not by a long shot, nopes.

 

 

But before we get into those travails, thank you Steve (Carey), Steve (the guide), Ken (camp manager), Annabelle, the trackers and the rest of the team at Laikipia Wilderness. It was all just as wonderful as I remembered it from all those years ago - I had waxed poetic about leopards and dogs to Dave and LWC came through in every way. Also, if you're a foodie, take note - this camp serves some of the most delicious meals in all of Africa. Thank you for everything, and especially with the last day arrangements.

 

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Edited by Sangeeta
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gatoratlarge

You really know how to create suspense!!! :D Cliff hanger!

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SafariChick

Fabulous report so far, @Sangeeta! As you know, I will tease you mercilessly from now on about the phone since I am normally the one teased for losing things on safari! Great photos from everyone, and you saw so much!! So glad the dogs have managed to recover at LWC. Looking forward to more! 

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Biko

So good to see that you were able to see the dogs at LWC even when the alpha female was in the den.

 

I am curious to learn what has gone wrong with a PCR test.......

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Caracal

This is great @Sangeeta

That first photo of a distant Mt Kenya stopped me in my tracks and momentarily transported me way back to my first sighting of a distant Mt Kenya in 1996.

What great variety of sightings already in this report - the lion receiving an eland kickback, a delightful pair of klipspringers, great rhino and dog photos etc

An appropriate Dickensian quote isn't coming to mind at the moment but I'm looking forward to the next instalment.

 

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Kitsafari

DOGS! 

 

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Pamshelton3932

 @gatoratlargeI was thinking the same thing about it sounding like a scene from "The God''s Must Be Crazy!"  This has been such fun to read and the pictures are outstanding.

 

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shazdwn

Fantastic report, what great sightings you had and you portray it so well.  

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On 4/12/2021 at 4:48 PM, Sangeeta said:

Wow, Sangeeta, I would have been pulling my hair out! The clock-ticking PCR tests are a deterent. 

 

 

 

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On 4/21/2021 at 1:49 PM, Sangeeta said:

 

 

 

 

your phone ... This is the best story ever! I can't stop laughing. Right up there with the toilet paper. 

 

Edited by RC88COR
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Towlersonsafari

splenid trip report so far with stunning photos and so glad you made the effort and didn't just "phone it in"  @Sangeeta

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