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A Picture Painted by Nature

»Posted on Apr 30, 2009 in Blog | 0 comments

A Picture Painted by Nature

Wildfires are known to be one of nature’s most destructive forces but is the charred and lifeless vegetation that remains a poignant ending or a fascinating new beginning? Miraculously, a brilliant spectrum of colours can be seen from afar within weeks. Hundreds of species of wild flowers and plants have reappeared on Mount Kenya dispersed by wildlife and birds, one dazzling colour fading into another. Deep-blue Gentians compete with rocket-shaped Red-Hot Poker. The pale yellow flowers of the Sugar Bush shake hands with red-coloured African Gladiola. Erica, radiant in pink, add yet another shade, and dwarf shrubs and tussock grasses have made a home in gaps neglected by pole-like Giant Lobelia. The recent fires have swept across the grasslands so rapidly...

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Kenya on Fire

»Posted on Apr 10, 2009 in Blog | 0 comments

Kenya on Fire

A week ago: When the silhouette of Mount Kenya appeared against the soaring flames of extensive wildfires on the mountain it became clear that mother nature was being brought to her knees. Simultaneously, eight other forests in Kenya were burning ferociously destroying over 70,000 acres of forest, a damage estimated at over $ 4 million. No-one could put a value on the potential loss of some of the world’s most endangered species. Weeks of hot weather without rain had parched the vegetation, easy food for hungry blazes that were being hurried along by strong winds. In most cases, signs pointed towards illegal charcoal-burners and beekeepers as the cause of the fires. Unbeknown to us at that time: the moorlands above Kenya’s last indigenous forest would...

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The BBC captures our Bongo

»Posted on Mar 24, 2009 in Blog, Bongo News | 0 comments

The BBC captures our Bongo

January 2004 in retrospect: The BBC amongst other reputed television networks reports the return of 20 of Africa’s rarest and most elusive antelope, the Mountain Bongo, to Mount Kenya Wildlife Conservancy. 5 years on – January 2009: In anticipation of a first wilderness release later this year, a BBC film crew has returned to Mount Kenya Wildlife Conservancy to film Mountain Bongo for a 3-part natural history series about Kenya. As the film rolls, we follow the crew around with our own camera and bear witness to a very special reunion. It’s 6.30 in the morning. Whilst guests at the adjacent Mount Kenya Safari Club are still sleeping, our Wildlife Officer Fundi is directing a dark green Land Cruiser across the Conservancy, many pairs of eyes on us....

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A Gift of a Very Special Kind

»Posted on Mar 6, 2009 in Blog | 1 comment

A Gift of a Very Special Kind

As the ardent Kenya lover knows, the country that straddles the equator enjoys distinct seasons influenced by the monsoon – two wet and two dry periods. During the course of the year, the monsoon’s low pressure belt moves between its northernmost point over Arabia and its southernmost point over Zambia. As it travels between these two extremes, the low pressure belt passes over Mount Kenya between Mid-March and June, then again from October to December dispensing much needed rain. In January and February, however, while the low pressure area is situated over its southern extreme, it drives predominantly north-easterly winds across Mount Kenya. Unable to carry along moist air from the Indian Ocean, it results in the lowest rainfall of the year. The...

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Overheard at the Chaircat’s Office

»Posted on Feb 27, 2009 in Blog | 0 comments

Overheard at the Chaircat’s Office

Not long ago, our much-respected Chaircat Duma Duke discovered a look-alike of one of the Animal Orphanage’s residents in a photo from faraway North America. A critter gone astray? Always a devoted reporter, he decided to investigate himself and soon the news broke – Duma Duke is traveling. …and the tittle-tattle from Mount Kenya, the voices of Africa? 7,000 miles from home, our farseeing Chaircat lent his desk to his trusted friends who ensure that the bush drums continue. Here are some interesting news that just reached us from wintry America: The critter looking so much like his African friend, the Reedbuck, introduced herself to Duma Duke as a member of the extensive Whitetail Deer Family. Back in Africa, the land of antelopes to which the...

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Change Indeed…

»Posted on Jan 15, 2009 in Blog, Bongo News | 0 comments

Change Indeed…

A great New Years gift awaited us on January first: Bongo mother ‘Baraka’ gave birth to a healthy female calf during the night. Mother Baraka (Kiswahili for BLESSING) was one of the first group of bongo calves born to the ‘native American’ mothers that were returned to Kenya. Four days into 2009 another little ‘girl ‘ bongo joined her. Her mother carries the proud name “Miss Kenya,” first born on Kenyan soil of American Heritage!! All of us here take great pride in naming the two new bongo after two other delightful young girls of true Kenyan heritage that have made world news lately: Malia and Sasha, the charming young daughters of President Barack Obama. Photos by long time Conservancy supporter Jane McKeand who...

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Wildlife can be just FULL of surprises

»Posted on Nov 29, 2008 in Blog | 1 comment

Wildlife can be just FULL of surprises

Here’s a video of Killer Whales vs. a Penguin. See if you can guess which side wins? Recommend on Facebook Tweet about...

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Rhino Update

»Posted on Sep 15, 2008 in Blog | 1 comment

Rhino Update

We waited a little longer to be sure: Big Mama, our record-horn Rhino has recovered well from her gunshot wound. The Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) vets decided against removing the bullet at this time to give her time to recover from the shock of the ordeal. Although KWS recommended the horn be cut off to remove the temptation it poses to would-be poachers, we have not done so. We feel that the culprits must be prosecuted and punished as a deterrent. Justice as always takes its time. Two suspects have been charged but are out on bail. Meanwhile the Rhinos remain under heavy guard. The episode caught us “on Safari” in the U.S., but we are now on our way home to make sure all possible is done to have a positive outcome. More Rhino pictures soon....

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A sad day for Wildlife

»Posted on Aug 27, 2008 in Blog | 0 comments

A sad day for Wildlife

Last night an attempted murder took place on the Mount Kenya Wildlife Conservancy. A gang came in shortly after midnight and fired some shots. The Conservancy’s security force acted swiftly. Within minutes Peter Fundi the Orphanage’s superintendent (who sleeps in the Orphanage “just in case”) was first on the scene. After securing the immediate surroundings and making sure none of our men were hurt, his next move was to check on our pair of Rhinoceros. The Rhino Big Mama has been shot and slightly wounded Rhino as you probably know are an endangered species. They are hunted for their horn which brings thousands of $$$$$ when exported to the East where they may become dagger handles or ground into “medicine” said to have...

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A Tiger in the White House??

»Posted on Aug 13, 2008 in Blog | 1 comment

A Tiger in the White House??

All the world is fascinated with the competitive American elections. Sen. Obama has nothing to fear from African tigers For the very first time an African American is the nominee for the democratic party: Senator Barack Obama. Kenya is a-buzz with speculation, discussion and bets. After all, Obama’s Dad was a genuine Kenyan, in fact, his Grandma still lives in a village in Western Kenya. Many of us here follow every bit of news we can get, so we came across an article written by one Nancy Benac, (Associate Press Writer) that is making its appearance in newspapers this week. In it she compares the decorative aspect of the offices of the two nominated candidates. We are informed Obama’s office has “a fresh clean look to it,” “carefully...

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A Sad Day for China

»Posted on Aug 10, 2008 in Blog | 0 comments

A Sad Day for China

Today we woke to the grisly news that an American Tourist had been stabbed to death on the streets of Beijing. He was there for the Olympics, strolling down the street with friends. Had it happened elsewhere in the world the news would surely not have traveled so fast. William Holden with Don Hunt” Another day, another time: Peking in the late 1960’s. Our friend Bill Holden had been waiting anxiously to obtain a visa to see China for years. At this early stage only his fame and his impeccable reputation for honest reporting had persuaded the Chinese authorities to grant a visit. He and his traveling companion were to be accompanied by one of their official guides throughout his visit. Furthermore the route that wanted to take was denied. He was...

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Leopard vs. Crocodile

»Posted on Jul 24, 2008 in Blog | 0 comments

Leopard vs. Crocodile

Here’s another totally amazing footage. We used to hear, over the years stories often told by the old game wardens and the white hunters, over campfire drinks. Then, the next morning nobody was clear if it was the African magic or the drink, but could what we heard really have happened that way? But then, if you read old books written by colonial officers giving otherwise not so exciting accounts of their years spent “taming the wilderness,” you can also find such stories. Of course, no one ever had a camera ready at such moments, only one’s photographic mind graced by more or less fantasy. Nowadays the naturalist gets a grant to lay in waiting with the latest equipment at the ready to record odd moments. But as mankind evolves, so must...

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A Bongo Kaleidoscope – as observed by Lilli

»Posted on Jun 6, 2008 in Blog, Bongo News | 0 comments

A Bongo Kaleidoscope – as observed by Lilli

10 May 2008 – Ajabu’s big day. In the lush surroundings of her beautiful forest home at Mount Kenya Wildlife Conservancy, she has chosen this day for the arrival of her firstborn. Nature sees to it that, instinctively, mother and young will always find each other but how do we, their human caretakers, tell them apart, you might ask? Is it their horns – beautifully long or sometimes not yet visible? Does their coat set them apart – a whole palette of an enthusiastic painter? Do the stripes give them away? Well, it is a combination of these features that give every one of our protégées their unique identity. Our Wildlife Officer Fundi has opened the family album for you promising to make you a Bongo expert. STRIPES Bongo have between 8 to 14 vertical white...

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Don’s Baby Boomers

»Posted on Jun 1, 2008 in Blog | 0 comments

Don’s Baby Boomers

Déja vu all over again? This 4-some were all born recently at the Conservancy within weeks of one another. Here they are seen guarded by a “nanny,” a female “teenager” bongo, while the mothers gain time to relax and feed further away. The young will be friends for life and care will be taken that in the course of their eventual release back to the wild they will not be separated. Mr & Mrs. Patas present: Another Grandchild! Counting Toes This little charmer is awaiting your support and will gladly carry your name in gratitude…. Earmarked for later rehabilitation to the wild to join another group of these beautiful and exceedingly rare monkeys. New Sister for “Chewy” Bring on the Clown?? During the 2008 rainy season...

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Striped Velvet

»Posted on May 4, 2008 in Blog | 0 comments

Striped Velvet

I didn’t want to tell you, at first, about the little bundle of bones the local senior game warden placed in our care about two weeks ago. He had received word from a (northern) Maasai that a zebra foal had followed his cows into his “manyatta” (a Maasai traditional homestead). The Maasai people are known for their benevolent ability to respect wildlife, sharing what little grazing there is for their live stock with zebras and other wild grazers and tolerating even the king of beasts, the lion on their turf. The Maasai herdsman narrated the story, how only 2 days ago he had witnessed 2 lionesses making a kill of a zebra mare. Then, “the king” male lion who had been observing from a distance, claimed his right to feast first on the...

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Out & About : Meeting Don’s Baby Boomers

»Posted on May 4, 2008 in Blog | 0 comments

Out & About : Meeting Don’s Baby Boomers

These are some of the latest youngsters born to the resident herd of Bongo bred at the Mount Kenya Wildlife Conservancy. Only separated by a few months in age, these young animals have formed a friendship that will last for life. As seen here, only one “teenage” female is “in charge.” While the mothers browse in relative peace nearby, the young play and romp as they should. Only previously seen in eland and impala, it is amazing that bongo will adopt the same (sensible) system. Because of the impenetrable forest that wild bongo once populated on Mount Kenya, very little of their behaviour was known until they could be studied in their semi-wild environment of the Mount Kenya Wildlife Conservancy. Bongo bred at the Conservancy are earmarked...

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Chucky meets Ms. Piggy!

»Posted on May 3, 2008 in Blog | 0 comments

Chucky meets Ms. Piggy!

I don’t know if this means anything, but for us, April has been the “month of the pig.” No sooner had young Chucky settled in, another came along. This one is a 3 months old bush pig. The medium size one amongst the three wild pigs found in Kenya. The largest, of course you knew, is the elusive giant forest hog. This little piggy was actually found by our equestrian amazon friend Rose Caldwell. On one of her daily outings on the slopes of Mount Kenya her horse shied away from some crows busy picking at ‘something’ in a ditch. Rose moved closer only to discover a tiny newborn and terrified piglet about to be assassinated by the crows sharp beaks. She managed to scoop it up just in time and walked it back to the safety of their farm...

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Lucky Chucky, or the Hog of the Blog?

»Posted on May 3, 2008 in Blog | 0 comments

Lucky Chucky, or the Hog of the Blog?

It could have been any other day or point in time and this little piggy would have gone unnoticed only a few days into his life, the shadow of death already upon him. Minute and vulnerable, he was forcefully separated from his mother and siblings. The pair of mighty martial eagles that have been spotted now for a few days signal the onset of baby season for warthog families. The prolonged drought has forced many expectant hog families to leave their parched savannah homes for the still relatively healthy pastures of the mountain slopes. Here they compete with the rest of the game living under the protection of the MKWC and we wonder how long the food will last with the added burden. As the martial eagles patiently wait in the trees, their powerful eyes focus on...

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Speedy Kofi

»Posted on Mar 1, 2008 in Blog | 1 comment

Speedy Kofi

Two days ago the political situation in Kenya was still hopeless. Suddenly with lightening speed at the eleventh hour a solution was found, a deal was struck, and rapidly the sun appeared, flooding light down the end of the tunnel. breakthrough…. Dr. Kofi Annan, here to help the opposing sides negotiate, managed to get them to go together without conflict or incongruity and sign a pact which promises a better future. They have agreed to a power sharing government but more importantly they have agreed that the events we saw in January are not to be repeated. Ever. Everyone is joyful at the news, almost forgotten are the differences, for now the yearning for assured peace is paramount. A great wave of warm feelings goes out to Kofi Annan who did not waver in...

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All’s Quiet

»Posted on Feb 11, 2008 in Blog | 0 comments

All’s Quiet

Another 2008 baby bongo! A fine strong young male was born to the Conservancy’s dam “Liz” bringing the total number to 52. I won’t bore you with another picture. Its just so exiting, we are barely in the second month and have 3 healthy baby bongos already. The odd bit is: they are all males. They will be a rare and handsome trio carrying within them insurance for the future of the elusive mountain bongo. You can now adopt your very own bongo online with a one click donation. For a little more you may even name your own bongo. Just imagine a wild bongo on majestic Mount Kenya carrying your name! Click here to make the world’s greatest gift to yourself and your loved ones and watch a little bongo grow in the safety of your sponsorship....

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Life goes on…

»Posted on Jan 29, 2008 in Blog | 1 comment

Life goes on…

Another beautiful day here at Mount Kenya and another delightful surprise: Barely two weeks after the grand entrance of Bongo baby No. 50, here now is No. 51!! He was born to “Wasi-wasi” which, losely translated means crazy (as in nervous). That is indeed the reason why I don’t yet have a decent picture of the cute little baby antelope, I didn’t dare risk Wasi -wasi to disembowel me with her horns. Bongo, normally quite calm and shy can also be very dangerous. Wasi-wasi especially is quite capable to stand there like a tame animal one moment and attack the next if she were to perceive danger for her young. It is this quality that will ultimately insure their survival in the wild we hope. In any case congratulations are due: Wasi-wasi...

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Meanwhile back at the ranch…

»Posted on Jan 22, 2008 in Blog | 2 comments

Meanwhile back at the ranch…

I got up early this morning, awakened by bird song. I jumped out of bed thinking it must be late. But when I looked outside it was still dark. And yet, the birds were up. And then I saw it, the full moon illuminating the western sky, descending slowly toward the edge of the ranch. I grabbed the camera and rushed off in the car, out into the bush still hidden by the night. Striped and white zebra mingling with reedbuck, bushbuck and eland antelope in my view briefly as I come up on the plain, there is that magnificent moon again, lower now. In the east the sky takes on color as it gets lighter by the minute and the mountain stands watch as the moon sinks below the trees racing the life giving sun still hidden by the eastern slopes of Mount Kenya. The bush is still...

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Mount Kenya celebrates…..

»Posted on Jan 13, 2008 in Blog | 2 comments

Mount Kenya celebrates…..

Our slightly delayed New Years gift: A healthy male baby bongo finally made his grand entry. The arrival of ‘Hamsini‘ marks the 50th Mountain Bongo to join the herd at the Mount Kenya Wildlife Conservancy, earmarked for re-introduction to the wild. We expected the birth to take place around the first of January. but as it were, world attention was focused on less joyous incidents in Kenya. It was almost as though the mother bongo was waiting for calm amd peace to return to give her own big event the importance it deserves. So today we introduce to you: Hamsini, (which means ‘fifty’ in Kiswahili ) born last night, January 12, 2008. Delivery was difficult as the little bongo had overstayed its normally expected gestation period, he had...

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News from peaceful Mount Kenya

»Posted on Jan 4, 2008 in Blog | 0 comments

News from peaceful Mount Kenya

First I must report that in our neck of the woods peace prevails. It is reassuring to know that all our staff and keepers without fail have shown their commitment to look after the animals in our care come what may. Yesterday the Kenyan President called a press conference in order to explain that his first concern is that of the safety of all of Kenya’s citizens. “We are all Kenyans” he said. He explained to the press that security must be restored before any marches or mass meetings can take place in the name of peace. Once citizens are assured safety to go about their daily business he promised to address demands for further talks. He advised those with complaints to seek justice in the courts. Meanwhile, fanned by international attention battles in the slums...

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