It has been an exciting long year!
Duma Duke has not been too talkative of late. Exercising his well-earned right of seniority, he prefers to laze around, showing off his still impressive magnificence.
He and siblings are up early each morning on their high “throne” overlooking all the other residents of the Orphanage and the Conservancy’s plains beyond.
Not quite expected so soon, our “New Years’s baby” arrived a few days early… this precious fawn, born on Christmas day is our newest and as yet very shy baby bongo. Instinct demands the infant antelope to stay hidden, safe where “Mom” left it in some bushes in the suni sanctuary. For now only “mom” is aware of its sex. We do not interfere and let ultimate privacy ensure the well-being of the precious new born.
Soon though curiosity will win and the new arrival will join the other youngsters.
We are now feeding 80 bongo and counting.
While this is an overwhelming sight and signifies great success, it also presents great problems in the pocket book. Animal feeds alone have doubled in price over the last 12 months. So have costs of vet care, fuel, man power and everything else. We are budgeting with great care and our senior staff and keepers have been wonderful not demanding double pay as so many other striking workers all over the country.
The good news is that the rains have been plentiful and Kenyans expect a bumper harvest. For the Conservancy that means lots of grass for our free ranging animals.
The excellent rains also give the forest a chance to recuperate from the recent drought, making conditions perfect for a scheduled release of our bongo onto Mount Kenya.
We are ready! Working closely with the Kenya Wildlife Service there have been numerous delays. The main hold up is that the Wildlife Service has not felt comfortable with ensuring the safety of the animals once they are beyond our own care. They need to reinforce their anti poaching patrols and there is talk of further fencing sections of Mount Kenya. It all makes great sense to wait until conditions are improved in that respect.
The future looks bright although the long wait brings other challenges. To continue with our successful breeding of this vanishing species, more “bomas” for their safekeeping have to be constructed, increasing amounts of food have to be purchased, vaccinations and veterinary care doubles. More dedicated keepers have to be found and trained and financial help is desperately needed to continue with the project.
Meanwhile, we are happy to report that the white Zebra we rescued and saved from extinction are now successfully re-established in the vast forests of Mount Kenya and can often be seen grazing on the glades.
Similarly, many of our breeding troupes of Colobus monkeys are now well established and once again thriving in the forest above. Some of them return time after time to visit their relatives still at the orphanage, much to the delight of our own human visitors.
Many more orphans, too many to mention have been treated and released this year. Some of them have returned, insisting that the orphanage is their rightful place and we do not deny them to come back into the home of their choice. This is why you may see some animals in residence at their old place in the Orphanage even after release to the wild.
This year we also celebrated Bwana Don’s eightieth birthday. Blessed with good health he’s still the first up every morning touring the Conservancy and actively involved assisting and directing our Wildlife managers with their tasks.
Mama Duma has been battling some health issues but with great success, and is happy to report that she’s back “at it” and will assist ‘Duma Duke’, the talking cheetah on this page to update you more often.
As you make your New Years plans and resolutions, please don’t forget your four legged friends at the Mount Kenya Wildlife Conservancy and Orphanage.
Like countless generations before them, freedom to roam their ancient habitat on Mount Kenya must be ensured for all, including mankind.
Their future is in our hands. Help us to continue to lead the way and remain a shining light in the world of wildlife conservation.
Wishing you continued health and the warmth of love in your heart,
MAMA DUMA and BWANA DON (aka Don and Iris Hunt)
and all of us here at the
Mount Kenya Wildlife Conservancy