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  • Chris Swift

Diary update: Wildlife corridors and ancient routes.

I had a great night's kip, which was unfortunate as everyone else heard the Ele’s snapping the branches off the nearby trees, the inspecting hyaena and the leopard walking up the lugga to the baboon dormitory. One of them must have seen the chui (leopard), and the barking alarm triggered off the rest of the troop. That's when I awoke at 4:00 a.m. He must have still been around at first light as the guineafowl in the trees were calling loudly, giving his position away.

So by chance, we had camped in a game corridor which allows animals to pass from one conservancy to another. These have been set up all over the country by the KWS (Kenya Wildlife Services) and friends of Kenyan wildlife generally in an effort to maintain the ancient migration routes.

Where we had parked at our campsite just happened to be like a motorway service station along the corridor where the animals could stop, hide, and refresh. Invaluable stop-off points that add much to the future success of these routes.

I had been first introduced to this dry bush country by my pal Charles when we bicycled into northern Kenya when Idi Amin was making travel through Uganda pretty unpleasant. We purchased three-speed bicycles in Juba on the banks of the Nile in Sudan and then spent two weeks reaching Lokichogio. It was similar country to here, hot, dry and with very little water. We just camped each night in the thick bush off the road. Plenty of dust and similar birds: hornbills, go-away birds, starlings and bee-eaters. I saw my first Lesser Kudu on that trip, and we passed a recent kill with vultures packed in the branches of an overhead tree. We did not go for a closer inspection. The memories of that trip come back as we walk alongside the camels at their comfortable gait. Tucking in close to the camel until mid-morning, you can walk in the cool of its shadow. As midday approaches, that luxury disappears with the sun directly overhead, and the hard yards start following the big camel footsteps in the dust.

This afternoon, we dropped down off another escarpment, so things are warming up.

We have found a more public spot to camp this afternoon, but well before the next village. I think we are learning.

There are, of course, plenty of inquisitive visitors of all ages to inspect the camels, and Barabara has been doing a marvellous job chatting, laughing and reprimanding kids that get too close. He should really have CD (Corps Diplomatic) number plates on his camel.

As the first man across Masailand said, “‘He who goes gently, goes safely, he who goes safely, goes far'.

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