The Chaircat’s Archives

Here are letters from the Chaircat, reporting on events at Mt. Kenya.

Chaircat’s Letter June 2008

Posted by on Jun 1, 2008 in Chaircat's Letter | 0 comments

Chaircat’s Letter June 2008

My Dear Friends, as usual I talk to you during the onset of the rains when nature renews itself in our neighborhood. This year has brought delay, not just in the onset of the rains. As you are all no doubt aware the beginning of 2008 in Kenya was nothing for any decent Cheetah (or other) to write home about, indeed humans around here are still ashamed of what has taken place that left such a nasty mark on the history of this otherwise exceptional country. There are in fauna related literature a number of fables with lessons on the consequences of such primeval (‘animalistic’) behavior. Even amongst the media, members accused each other of a “feeding frenzy” over reporting the events, something otherwise only witnessed amongst sharks or the like. While still baffled that such behavior in humans is always likened to the animal world when we all know that man is the biggest predator of us all, I am at least happy to report that all is peaceful at last. For once no beast was to blame, and faced with their own vulnerable mortality, humans borrowed another leaf from the animal world. They realized the truth of the wisdom of taking only what one needs to survive from nature, and suddenly there is room for all. Conflict like the one Kenyans have recently been exposed to often bring out the heroes, the leaders among the masses. One of the first visitors back to Kenya was our loyal supporter ‘Lilli,’ Juliane Polster who braved a crowded customs hall at Nairobi Airport to clear twelve boxes of “Goodies” she had collected to give away to young Kenyan students that visit the Conservancy. Lilli is still here, visiting us every day and delighting in spending her vacation mingling with the children, making their first acquaintance with the wild animals a special unforgettable experience for them and for herself. Today once again we are treated to nature’s unique entertainment as rain clouds part to a dramatic curtain opening onto Mount Kenya’s peaks dipped in the orange and lilac pinks of the setting sun reflected in the freshly deposited snow. In a few hours the snow has melted, leaving behind the visibly shrinking glaciers, silent evidence of rapidly advancing climate change. Mount Kenya and the Aberdares are vital to Kenya’s survival as a food basket in the region. Her streams are feeding the forests and plains that harbor a safe heaven for our unequaled wildlife. Use the form below to make a one-time donation in any amount to help support the important work of the Conservancy. US$ Many animals, including injured animals and those made orphans by poachers, are available for adoption. You can adopt one, either for yourself or in the name of someone you love, as a gift: Adoption Information For more information, please visit our Donate Page. Recommend on Facebook Tweet about...

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I had a dream…

Posted by on Aug 14, 2007 in Blog, Chaircat's Letter | 0 comments

I had a dream…

Last night I had a dream. I dreamt that a new party wanted me as their symbol. Because I never change my spots, they said. I had to consider this very carfully because I already serve as Chaircat on the board of the Mount Kenya Wildlife Conservancy. So I asked them what this new party was all about. I had heard about such things. Here in Kenya they used to have a cockerel for one party and a donkey for another.  The donkey is popular because they use it in America too. Then an African, the mighty elephant was given the job of symbol for another party. It didn’t mean too much because the only African American presidential hopeful there did not join the party with the African elephant. He went for the donkey. The incumbent there stands with the elephant. Maybe because his name suggests that without him even the mighty elephant cannot survive. It’s all very complicated. Obviously the position of a party symbol is an honor that could be a disaster in the making, so I asked many questions. The party, they said, was not political. It was not religeous either. It didn’t even belong to any one country. The members could be of any race or species from worms to elephants and apes to humans. All had a right to live on earth but only in the order allocated by voting. Each species’ voting power had to do with how  much food they represented to other species and how much they consumed. An interesting concept but it left me way down the food chain as a major consumer. Humans also did not do too well but promised to compete more honestly. I remember the honey bee was so outstanding they almost offered her the position of symbol. Then I woke up and realized it was only a dream. Maybe you can finish the dream for me. Recommend on Facebook Tweet about...

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Cats just know things…

Posted by on Jul 31, 2007 in Blog, Chaircat's Letter | 0 comments

Cats just know things…

Did you hear about Oskar the cat that spends time with patients on their deathbed in the nursing home? It’s been on all the news lately. No one can figure out how Oskar knows who’s about to depart and who will be around for a while in the geriatric nursing home where he “works.” As a member of the cat family I must say I don’t understand what all the fuzz is all about. Of course we know such things. And of course we care. We are cats are we not? http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/americas/6917113.stm Recommend on Facebook Tweet about...

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Chaircat’s Letter July 2007

Posted by on Jul 1, 2007 in Chaircat's Letter | 0 comments

Chaircat’s Letter July 2007

My dear Friends, in Kenya, rain is usually concentrated in two brief periods during the year. Oddly, this first half of the year it has been almost one long stretch of rain, denying the usual drought its disastrous effects. Never have we seen so much green for so long. Fewer animal orphans resulted. The vegetation around us has been regenerated almost overnight. Once again there is plenty of green grass and browse for the animals. The trees look alive and healthy with a new dress of shade-giving foliage. Here at the Orphanage we used the time to make repairs and improve the facility. The older holding pens have had a makeover keeping in mind foremost the animals’ needs. Oliver, our boisterous orphaned little Buffalo had to be banned from the general open area. He insists on furthering his fighting skills on what he considers his peers: our human guests!! The result were some cuts and bruises on our very tolerant keepers. He is now earmarked for an early re-introduction into an adult herd so he can rethink his identity before it is too late. Karen our original bushbuck now has a family of 4. All were sired in the wild. Each time, Karen, a former orphan herself returns to introduce her newborn. She stays and spends time raising the calf in the safety of the orphanage, before she once again leaves for the wild. She makes us all feel proud. Most recently our young caracal cat (African Lynx) has again given birth to two kittens. She was closely watched as she refused to raise her last litter and injured them. This time she devoted all her new learned motherly skills on only one of the kittens, abandoning the other. Mama Duma came to the rescue and you can read the touching story on this page. But folks, the BIG news just came with the dawn of this morning May 29th: We have our first second generation baby bongo born to the “American herd,” a great milestone marking the success in the ongoing project to return the magnificent Bongo Antelope to Mount Kenya. See the article Baby Boomers in the Bush Drums section. As I write this, unexpectedly as they came, the rains have left us overnight. It feels strangely like typical February days: bright sunshine and a strong gale blowing from the North East… but wait this is almost June, something seems terribly wrong. The mountain stands crystal clear and suddenly almost bare of snow, as if arrogantly backing Al Gore’s grisly predictions. The rivers that border the Conservancy still swollen yesterday, have receded already, a timely reminder of the urgency to preserve what’s left of our environment and all creatures within. By saving and restocking the Mount Kenya National Park with some of its lost game populations we strive to help preserve the biodiversity of this unique ecosystem. In those areas set aside for conservation flora and fauna must be considered paramount if we are to save our own kind as a species on this earth. It is time for man to cease to conquer, but give way to nature to insure our own second place in this chain of earthly survivors. This month we invite you to renew your memberships to remain part of this important ongoing...

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Chaircat’s Letter July 2007

Posted by on Jul 1, 2007 in Blog, Chaircat's Letter | 2 comments

Chaircat’s Letter July 2007

My Dear Friends, in Kenya, rain is usually concentrated in two brief periods during the year. Oddly, this first half of the year it has been almost one long stretch of rain, denying the usual drought its disastrous effects.   Never have we seen so much green for so long. Fewer animal orphans resulted. The vegetation around us has been regenerated almost overnight. Once again there is plenty of green grass and browse for the animals. The trees look alive and healthy with a new dress of shade-giving foliage. Here at the Orphanage we used the time to make repairs and improve the facility. The older holding pens have had a makeover keeping in mind foremost the animals’ needs. Oliver, our boisterous orphaned little Buffalo had to be banned from the general open area. He insists on furthering his fighting skills on what he considers his peers: our human guests!! The result were some cuts and bruises on our very tolerant keepers. He is now earmarked for an early re-introduction into an adult herd so he can rethink his identity before it is too late. Karen our original bushbuck now has a family of 4. All were sired in the wild. Each time, Karen, a former orphan herself returns to introduce her newborn. She stays and spends time raising the calf in the safety of the orphanage, before she once again leaves for the wild. She makes us all feel proud.   Most recently our young caracal cat (African Lynx) has again given birth to two kittens. She was closely watched as she refused to raise her last litter and injured them. This time she devoted all her new learned motherly skills on only one of the kittens, abandoning the other. Mama Duma came to the rescue and you can read the touching story on this page. But folks, the BIG news just came with the dawn of this morning May 29th: We have our first second generation baby bongo born to the “American herd,” a great milestone marking the success in the ongoing project to return the magnificent Bongo Antelope to Mount Kenya. See the article Baby Boomers in the Bush Drums section. As I write this, unexpectedly as they came, the rains have left us overnight. It feels strangely like typical February days: bright sunshine and a strong gale blowing from the North East… but wait this is almost June, something seems terribly wrong. The mountain stands crystal clear and suddenly almost bare of snow, as if arrogantly backing Al Gore’s grisly predictions. The rivers that border the Conservancy still swollen yesterday, have receded already, a timely reminder of the urgency to preserve what’s left of our environment and all creatures within. By saving and restocking the Mount Kenya National Park with some of its lost game populations we strive to help preserve the biodiversity of this unique ecosystem. In those areas set aside for conservation flora and fauna must be considered paramount if we are to save our own kind as a species on this earth. It is time for man to cease to conquer, but give way to nature to insure our own second place in this chain of earthly survivors. This month we invite you to renew your memberships to remain part of this...

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The Chaircat’s Letter of March 2007

Posted by on Mar 1, 2007 in Blog, Chaircat's Letter | 0 comments

The Chaircat’s Letter of March 2007

My Dear Friends, for those of us that are born optimists, 2007 has started well. Unusual amounts of heavy precipitation may have caused some havoc in parts of East Africa, but for us here at the Conservancy the rain has had some very positive results. The vegetation is once again very lush and thick, the way it has not been for many years. Birdlife is abundant. There have been comparatively few orphaned animals brought in, probably due to the fact that the rain has allowed nature to feed her own. Our big New Years gift has been an unusual award: The esteemed American Association of Zoos and Aquariums every year carefully studies wildlife efforts all over the world. The Mount Kenya Wildlife Conservancy has been placed third on their list of… “Top Ten Wildlife Conservation Success Stories of 2006” Much work has gone into the Bongo breeding for rehabilitation program. All of us here are mighty proud and honored over the recognition by the AAZPA. Bongo News Updates Page In my own world (of Cheetahs) there is as yet not too much progress to report. Some years ago declining Cheetah populations prompted well intentioned worldwide conservation bodies to impose international laws to stop the “trade” in Cheetahs and their skins. While all of this has focused positive attention on the plight of the Cheetah, it has also resulted in some negative aspects. Scientists tell us that many years ago the Cheetah population went through a genetic tunnel, meaning that all Cheetahs became as closely related as brothers. Due to their poor reproductive abilities following this decline the species came to the brink of extinction. Through the efforts of Cheetah conservation, the picture has improved somewhat. But especially in East Africa the future of these beautiful animals is far from secure. Cheetahs Although it is agreed there is only one species of Cheetah (Acinonyx jubatus) with no subspecies, some scientists are totally opposed to mixing the South African with the East African Cheetah. We are not qualified to form an opinion on the merits of this highly specialized genetic intelligence. The practical result of this resistance to captive breed from other secure stock could be disastrous for the East African Cheetah. In layman’s terms these are the facts: South Africa, where Cheetah breeding has been most successful, does not encourage export for breeding of their captive born Cheetah. (Some say they have however exported Cheetahs to the Arab block?). In Namibia, Cheetahs are very well preserved due to the efforts of the Cheetah Conservation Fund. In fact they are doing so well that the Namibian Government has forbidden captive breeding there, because they have too many cheetahs turned stock killers already. Export however once again is not allowed or encouraged following international regulations and/or opposition to inter-African breeding. Talk about a catch 22!! The Chaircat To the north of us, Somalia has long struggled to control the exploitation of the shrinking populations of game there. Many animals have been confiscated and ended up in well run facilities in Dubai, where by sheer numbers successful breeding has taken place. To the best of our knowledge none have been released or repatriated to Africa. Rehabilitation to Somalia of course would at this time not make much sense for obvious reasons. Rehabilitation the...

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The Chaircat’s Letter of December 2006

Posted by on Dec 1, 2006 in Blog, Chaircat's Letter | 0 comments

The Chaircat’s Letter of December 2006

My Dear Friends, with the holiday season in full swing and the New Year on the doorstep I have much good news to report. At long last it has now been confirmed that one small group of Bongo still survives on Mount Kenya. The group are reported to live in a remote area of dense forest, almost impenetrable to man. They have managed to remain hidden there undetected for almost ten years. The Conservancy’s work to breed the mountain bongo for the eventual return to Mount Kenya is progressing well and now becomes more important than ever. Research is ongoing and we will keep you informed in our bongo rehabilitation segment. The other good news I have for you concerns our striped friends, the rare white Zebra. A group of 50 of these magnificent animals gets to celebrate the New Year in the freedom of Mount Kenya National Park where their ancestors are reputed to have roamed. The release of this first group comes after thirty years of selective breeding of these rare beauties. It is a milestone to celebrate at our Conservancy. Here at the animal orphanage we have seen our share of positive changes and improvements. Mores space has been allocated to accommodate more orphans. The kitchen had a makeover. Under Drs. Sayers’ and Murugi’s guidance and Fundi’s supervision our distinctive care programs for individual species of orphaned or injured animals has been streamlined and facilities improved. A new home has been constructed to accommodate the porcupines (Shamba raiders now in rehab!!) Meanwhile several of our orphanage “graduates” have successfully been released back to the wild. Several new orphans were rescued and settled into their safe heaven. Recent arrivals include several “bottle babies” keeping us busy. It is a joy watching our devoted animal caregivers turn a frightened motherless starved and listless little wild animal into the happy and delightful youngsters romping the greens at the Orphanage. Our very own new Cheetah enclosures have been upgraded to suit our needs better and improve chances of our as yet unsuccessful attempts of “starting a family”. We are now able to move between four different areas. Summonsed by the charms of the ever graceful Cheetah ‘Diana’ we are able to visit when called upon, and feline favors are now more frequently granted to Bill and myself, so-to-speak! Watch this space for more ‘intimate’ announcements. (If need be we too may have to turn to Namibia to adopt!!) On behalf of all our friends here at the Animal Orphanage, be it human, primate, feline, equine, striped, spotted or even “quilled,”, we wish all our family of friends and supporters a wonderful holiday season in the hopes that the New Year will shower us all with peace, love and success. Recommend on Facebook Tweet about...

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The Chaircat’s Letter of April 2006

Posted by on Apr 1, 2006 in Blog, Chaircat's Letter | 0 comments

The Chaircat’s Letter of April 2006

My Dear Friends, I must apologize for my prolonged absence… Lately developments here the animal Orphanage have seen me literally pushed into the background. I have not been privileged to share the affections of our lovely female Cheetah Isis. For some time now, preference and visitation privileges have favored the handsome Cheetah “Sultan.” Sadly for her, Isis has equally rejected the Sultan’s advances. After all, his beauty is only spotted skin deep. At last they have permitted us back to visit and enjoy female feline companionship on a regular basis again. Lately there is talk of settling other female replica near us. The accommodations are almost ready and we are most excited about the prospects. Meanwhile, we look forward for you to visit us at our Sanctuary here at the Orphanage. His films have in the past focused on the Conservancy’s progress and drawn attention to the need to rehabilitate this unique magnificent Antelope to their rightful ancestral home on Mount Kenya. Meanwhile, our new neighbors managing the Mount Kenya Safari Club are the famed Fairmont Hotels and Resorts group. Already we have met and befriended many of their talented leaders, a group of passionate, charismatic professionals whose mission is to: “Celebrate Kenya and provide services that enrich the experiences and turn moments into memories for our guests.” A motto after my own heart! And with that my dear friends, I leave you to enjoy a truly Kenyan story where courage, love and determination overcame insurmountable obstacles and paved the way to freedom for many of the countries much loved gentle giants. And it all started here at the Mount Kenya Wildlife Conservancy’s Animal Orphanage! Recommend on Facebook Tweet about...

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The Chaircat’s Letter of November 2005

Posted by on Nov 20, 2005 in Blog, Chaircat's Letter | 0 comments

The Chaircat’s Letter of November 2005

Christmas is almost here! November is a very special month in Kenya. Our short rainy season started early this year, and very welcome after the devastating drought of the first 6 months which cost the lives of many of our older friends in the animal world. In-between the storm clouds, God’s mountain reveal itself dressed in white, as if to prepare for the festive season ahead. The Conservancy is green and sparkling with dew and clusters of color from the wild flowers and shrubs. The early rain has brought an abundance of colorful tropical birds as well, all chattering with the message of plentiful food for all. Our feature story for the holidays: The Last Wilderness, describes one of the most beautiful parts of Kenya, a harsh and hot place of rugged beauty, seldom seen by the average visitor. This is one of the few places left on earth where the vast herds of game still roam freely. But back to the birds… of another kind: Our friend and supporter Tim Lapage reports on his airborne Safari of 2004. A unique trip of adventure from Ethiopia to the Cape of Good Hope at the “bottom of Africa” piloting his own plane with precious cargo: Read all about it in our section: Safari Sampler. In our own world here at the Conservancy there’s good news too. We have seen 4 new baby bongos born so far this year. If my big amber eyes don’t fool me, I would say, eyeing the bongo herd nearby every early morning, that we can with certainty expect to have two more additions before the year is out. It is wonderful to see the young at play, knowing that their future will be in the dense Mount Kenya forests where their ancestors once roamed. As for us, the spotted Sphinx Diana, Bill and myself, and our visiting friend Sultan, we have been busy sorting out our own “private lives and territories” in our new breeding bomas. As yet there is no special announcement to be made, but believe me, we are working on it!! We wish all our friends and supporters from all over the world a very happy holiday season. Your continued support is essential to our survival in the wild. Recommend on Facebook Tweet about...

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The Chaircat’s Letter September 2005

Posted by on Sep 1, 2005 in Blog, Chaircat's Letter | 0 comments

The Chaircat’s Letter September 2005

My dear friends, it has been a long and wonderful summer for most of you and a lovely cool respite from the recent draught for us. Activities at the Cheetah breeding compound here at the Animal Orphanage have been lively. Sultan, our cousin, friend and adversary has been visiting often. Many times this has led to some disagreements between we males, mostly concerning the charms and favors of the lovely Cheetah Diana. She, in turn has of course with impeccable Cheetah-lady manners ignored such episodes. But even she could not hide the fact that her affections lean towards my person, although this may be a result of my meticulous watch over her honor. As a reward I have had the pleasure of her company for a few brief assigned days and nights ‘in private’ so-to-speak. At this point of course I cannot divulge any more details but promise to do so the moment that I may have "spotted" news, so watch this space! Elsewhere on the Conservancy these last 3 month have seen much activity. The Natural Habitat forest enclosure for the Bongo reintroduction to Mount Kenya is nearing completion. A part of the area is already enjoyed by our "American Immigrants" Roads and fences have been repaired and renewed after the rains. Kimani Rimui and his crew have been busy in the Orphanage too, making repairs and improvements for the animals’ comfort. Mama Duma and Bwana Don have traveled overseas, visiting some of our supporters and seeking new ones to benefit the Conservancy. Here at home, our new neighbors at the Mount Kenya Safari Club have also taken a keen interest in our work and promised to help where possible. Lastly, we are astounded to hear the news that a group of American ecologists want to see Cheetah hunt the great plains of North America. We don’t know much about that. As for Diana and my spotted brothers here, (and I think we can speak for most of them), we would rather you helped us repopulate our ancestral plains first. [Read more under ‘Commentary’ below] In this spirit I will turn back to my pleasurable duty in the hopes that, with your help there will be a few more of us around here way before we have to compete with mountain lions, wolves and bears!! Yours most devoted, Chaircat The Mount Kenya Animal Orphanage Commentary: Lions and Elephants for the great plains of North America? If a group of prominent American ecologists have their way, Lions and Elephants could some day be roaming the great plains of North America, the Journal of Nature reports. The plan grew from a retreat at media mogul Ted Turner’s 155,000 acre New Mexico Ranch. While it may seem a grandiose gesture to use large empty tracts of North American land for the survival of endangered African game, in reality it is no answer to the worldwide conservation of the endangered game crisis. U.S. Zoos have done great and successful work not only preserving but breeding endangered species. With the help of U.S. Zoos, rare Mountain Bongo Antelope are now being re-introduced into their ancestral habitat on Mount Kenya. This is an ongoing project of global importance and will light the way for the future of conservation. We would invite people like Ted...

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Mount Kenya Wildlife Conservancy