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Musings of a Mouse, September 2023

Rocky Hollow 

A hot and dry Laikipia, though they keep telling us El Nino round the corner – but all we can see is sunshine and blue skies.

We had such entertainment over the summer holiday safaris. It was so nice to get back to Shaba, with all the game coming back after the difficult drought of the last three years. We even saw some lions – of the slinking variety; masters of camouflage, sliding along in the long golden grass, they are extremely difficult to spot: truly wild lions. A beautiful leopard and her cub came to hunt in the valley next to our Shaba camp, and we found them sitting up in the fork of a tree trying to decide what to have for supper. 

Multi generational safaris are always great and Charlie and I were so honoured this year that we had several great friends come back after, dare I say it, 40 years! That’s before Charlie and I were married; I was just the girlfriend then. We had grandmothers and grandchildren sharing so many adventures. Our age gap went from 8 to 85 and we never had a dull moment. We had lessons on photographing animals with a phone through binoculars and got some great shots.  

Charlie, Milo and I were camping in Meru National Park in late July and as normal it was so quietly fabulous. There are not many large herds there, apart from big herds of breeding buffalo, plenty of zebra, giraffe and many gazelles. We enjoyed a lovely morning with a picnic breakfast on the edge of a valley, giraffe drifting though, white rhinos coming out to graze while their black cousins were browsing in the bush nearby. There were massive elephant bulls in the swamp, and lions resting in the shade of thorny trees. In the four days we were there we never saw another soul. 

Meanwhile, Charlie, Milla and I have been working on a new website for our home, Rocky Hollow, and as soon as it’s ready we will send it to you all. Most of the building is finished and now it’s just less exciting things, like hay barns and car workshops! 

Life here is always busy. Yesterday we found a young elephant limping very badly whilst out on the horses, so we called in the Sheldrick Trust Mobile Veterinary Unit. After darting the mother from a helicopter, they managed to catch the baby elephant and have a good look at her leg. It turns out she had an old injury, probably in the shoulder, and couldn’t get her leg down. She was in good health and managing to keep up with the herd. The vets decided there was a high chance she would survive and learn to compensate somehow, maybe eventually putting weight on the now shorter leg. Such an interesting morning. My job was to keep the rest of the curious herd from coming too close. 

The week before, there was an old elephant who had died and about 12 lions, 40 hyenas and hundreds of vultures were feeding on it for a week. We rode up to have a look, when we knew the lions were elsewhere, and the horses were quite unimpressed by the smell. Charlie’s great big dog, Wallie, tried to climb into it for a tasty morsel while my little Italian princess turned up her nose and looked the other way.

The age-old conflict between pastoralists and predators seems to be becoming more and more of an issue, with three camels and some goats being taken from our neighbours in the last few months. There are several ways of trying to deter the lions and the newest one is proving to be fairly successful in stopping the lions taking livestock. By stenciling a large pair of eyes on the cow’s/camel’s bottom, the lion doesn’t feel as comfortable coming up behind them - being watched - and it seems to have brought conflict numbers down. Flashing lights around the night enclosures makes predators think that there are guards up all night, walking around and checking for lions. This system has had great success across the whole of Kenya and was devised by a young Masai boy, who has gone on Ted Talks and now has been sponsored to have an American education. 

Milo had a busy August in the Mara, safaris in vehicles, safaris on horses, lots of wildebeest to be seen, together with quite a few lions who couldn’t decide if they would prefer horse or wildebeest for lunch. Nothing like a shot of adrenaline when you crack a stock whip to chase them away. 

We have a busy October coming up and then we will be getting ready for Christmas. Safari life is still the best fun ever.

Hope to see you soon,


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