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  • Chris Swift

Diary update: Day 15

Spots of rain on our tents at 5:00 a.m. as we awoke to continue our safari through this dry Masai country.

Modern travel “ by footing” following the camels is hampered by two recent problems and one other loose canon ball problem that has beset travellers since the Lord left Ireland.

The two new problems are the changing lifestyle of this once proud warlike tribe from nomadic pastoralists to cultivation farmers with their livestock pushed to the edges. To cultivate this bush country, the acacia trees are cut, cleared and turned into charcoal. This gives immediate gain but then exposes the soil very vulnerable to massive erosion.

These enclosures have been further encouraged by the Kenya government in 1990, allowing all squatters to take out title deeds on their land.

When attempting to travel along in a straight line, you are forced to zigzag in around and about these new fence lines.

Furthermore, in an attempt to go down an old road where we were told they used to take camels, it was completely washed out from the huge run off from the surrounding denuded land and we had to turn back.

Road washed out by erosion where camels had once passed. We were forced to turn back and make a considerable detour.

Finally the loose canon ball problem appeared. Once upon a time these were belligerent Moran warriors but this morning were in the form of a city-slicker type of Masai who spoke all three languages well and told us “to get off his land” and go the long way around.

His was the most unloved 100 acres I have ever seen. Every last acacia tree had been cut for charcoal. The erosion and washed off soil was horrendous with deep gullies and accumulations of silt piled up and sand dunes on the banks of the gorged-out ditches. In some parts the soil had been completely eroded away exposing the bare bedrock.

It was the complete opposite of Gabe Brown’s Regenerative Agriculture book titled “Dirt to Soil.”. This was Soil to Dirt to Rock.

Just so sad.

Undertaking quite a detour we turned back onto our route over a lugga back into the natural bush and immediately saw a large herd of Zebra, a couple of giraffes, some eland and a few Tommy gazelle plus boran cows and Dorper sheep.

Later in the day we met two different Masai families with well kept stock and lovely green vegetation cover consisting of small bushes and shrubs. I chatted to them both always impressed by their good English and they assured me maintaining that green cover to protect the soil was always a major concern.

It’s good to know some of the boys are on the case in protecting their land.

We have now pitched camp a mile east of the Magardi - Nairobi road and wait for John to rejoin the safari.

As Rory and I sit around the fire, a half-moon has just risen so looks like he is running late to which a nearby hyena howls his agreement.

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