December 10, 2012

WITH A GLANCE UPON MOUNT KENYA: BRUCE’S UPDATE FROM SEGERA




Although Christmas is just around the corner, a New Year not too far off either and most are looking forward to some well-deserved R&R at the end of 2012, there is some unfinished business at Segera in Laikipia, Kenya.

For the last two months six local guides of the area have been undergoing training in all aspects of field guiding under the guidance of EcoTraining’s highly experienced instructors. This is the result of a partnership with the Wilderness Collection (Wilderness Safaris) to give guests the best possible guided experience in that part of Kenya.

Mark Gunn started with the sharing and imparting of his wealth of knowledge, and shared some of his diary entries with you since October. And now Bruce Lawson is at it. It sure is a long way from our wilderness camp in the Makuleke concession in the north of the Kruger National Park where Bruce normally operates. 

But nonetheless, he’s been clocking the hours, exploring Segera on foot with the guides. He sent through these updates.

So sit back, read and enjoy…

22 November: It is tough up here especially when I have to wake up every morning with the sunrise over Mount Kenya. Also walking all day in the shadow of Mount Kenya does not help…
Headed east towards Mount Kenya and parked the vehicle close to the eastern boundary after following a spotted hyena for a while. While Jackson was doing the pre-walk brief a lone Dugga Boy came strolling past. 900 m into the walk still heading east our Askari spotted an elephant bull 200 m to the south of us.

A couple of kilometres further we bumped a breeding herd of elephant. In trying to navigate around the herd, downwind and to the west, we bumped a lot more elephant. We back tracked and skirted around to the north and east gaining some spectacular views.
Today one of my bucket list items was ticked off and that was to see an elephant with Mount Kenya in the back-ground. Stuff dreams are made of...


24 November: A great day's walking having done 15 km and 7.5 hours.  Francise took us to
Bata Island dam where we encountered a small herd of elephant which unfortunately got our scent and moved off. On the way there we passed plains zebra, reticulated giraffe, Grant's gazelle and some impala. At the dam we got a few new bird species – red faced crombec, Abyssinian scimitarbill and black-lored babbler.

In the afternoon I led the walk and we headed up stream towards the Segera Marsh. Straight off the bat we saw a lone bull elephant feeding peacefully next to the river which I approached. My Askari
was a bit apprehensive but all turned out well with cracking close-up views of the Bwana bull. Heading up towards the marsh we encountered more elephant feeding in the reeds and great views of Augur buzzard. 


En route back to the vehicle we bumped the Bwana bull again and did another approach, this time getting closer and a little elevated. A splendid day's walking!

27/28 November:  We have had a few awesome days walking and guiding. Four elephant
encounters over the 2 days and over 30 km walked. The bird list has crept past the 150 mark and climbing steadily. Gravy's zebra, reticulated giraffe, De Faso's waterbuck are to mention but a few of
the other specials we have seen.
Arnold led us down towards the Segera Marsh where and back towards the west and north. Some good spotting by our Askari Julius, and we had some elephant in our sights. It is still amazing for me to see a breeding herd of elephant 500 m off with Mount Kenya as a backdrop, breath-taking...


Anyway Arnold did a very good approach and we had a breeding herd of elephant 70 m away feeding happily not knowing we were there. All this without a rifle!
Today we had an amazing encounter with a young Elephant bull which we sat with for a very long period of time. We moved closer over a long period to eventually be within 50 m of him without him so much as even batting an eyelid. The rain started creeping in on the afternoon walk
so the pace picked up on the way home.
The rain has set in now so who knows where to from here???

November into December: Now that the rain has subsided we have started walking again in
earnest. The guides have logged over 60 hrs now, we are still going great guns.


The encounters are also creeping up there with over 20 so far having added an awesome encounter this afternoon with a herd of 26 elephants. I am still in awe at seeing a herd of elephants on huge big open grasslands. Awesome stuff! This morning was another example of a great walk from the Chimney Clearing down to the Waterfall on the Sugaroi River. Reticulated Giraffe watched us as we crossed the plain before heading down to the river. Four klipspringer kept a watchful eye on us as we descended the ridge and Rock Hyrax shouted their eerie call all the while.
En route back to the vehicle Bassa oryx, eland and zebra watched our approach back to the vehicle. Jack did a splendid job of guiding us today with twp "real" guests joining us. Well done Jack.
I still find watching the sun rise over Mount Kenya the highlight of my day and then watching the sun light up the glaciers on the peak in the late afternoon... Yeah guiding is tough!

6 - 8 December:  Sitting here watching a journey of reticulated giraffe crossing the grassland with the white snow peaks of Mount Kenya in the background make writing a bit tough. I know all of you feel really sorry for me but I want to assure you that I'll hang tough and push through...
We have had a great three days of walking with two of those looking for the rare and endangered Patas monkey. Before I get into that story… Three days ago Francis took us down to the springs in a shroud of thick mist. It was amazing walking in a thick mist not really knowing where I was and watching giraffe materializing out of the mist in front of us. Not sure who were more surprised, them or us?

Yesterday and today we have been under the lead of Mohammid, who monitors the Patas monkeys. We have spent 8 hours and walked 22 km in search of these beautiful and rare primates. Eventually today after walking 12 km, with everybody’s heads down we finally found them. What a moment to see these straw coloured monkeys standing bi-pedal in the grass watching us. I was told by Mohammid that this troop had 20 individuals of which I am sure we saw most.
At first they were a bit skittish and moved off but we moved closer slowly and they tolerated us to such an extent that the youngsters started wrestling not 50m from us. I do not know what seeing the
gorillas are like as I have not yet had the pleasure of seeing them but today I felt as if I was in the presence of something special and likened it to the gorillas. The big male made his appearance and
watched us from his low perch. What an animal, thick back hair the colour of dark straw, snow-white underbelly and puffy white cheeks. Made all 22 km worth it and I would walk them all over
again tomorrow to see these splendid primates again.

Unfortunately my camera decided to give up on me 2 days ago so I was not able to get any pictures. I am not sure if I will be able to rectify this problem so this might be the last pictures in my log.
Safari njema
Bwana Bruce

(Thank you Bruce for the updates and photos!)
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