By Fred Hegele, Board of Directors
Today was safari day for the mission team. Sandy and our driver Peter picked us up at 6:30 a.m. It was still dark—and chilly—-and Sandy brought hot coffee and baked scones that Carol baked last night before going to bed.
Our newly-purchased land for the Imara Village is across the Ewaso Ngiro River from the Ol Pajeta Conservancy. The only three remaining Northern White Rhinos, following the death of Nola at the San Diego Zoo on November 22, 2015, are at this privately-owned wildlife. Today we saw all three of these beautiful specimens inside the 700-acre endangered species enclosure where they are protected.
We saw warthogs by the dozen, giraffes, elands, waterbucks, hartebeests, impalas and gazelles, zebras, elephants, jackals, baboons, secretary birds and others I can’t recall at the moment. I will remember when I look at the hundreds of digital pictures captured today. We also stopped at the Sweetwaters Chimpanzee Sanctuary, founded by Jane Goodall, containing thirty-nine chimps, with whom we share 90% of their DNA.
We spent part of the morning looking for Simba, as our driver learned of a sighting of four lionesses in a particular section of the Conservancy. We looked and we looked and we looked. The grass in the savannah is very long and green due to the extensive rains during the past two months, and the lions are much more secure and difficult to spot. We continued to look until lunch time.
We ate lunch at Morani’s Restaurant inside Ol Pajeta and watched the rains move in from our outside patio table. And it rained incredibly hard for roughly an hour—-a heavy rain that Sandy calls a “potato harvest rain” after the muddy experience she had just before we arrived last week. The roads throughout the Conservancy were now quite difficult to navigate due to the puddles and standing water, but Peter is a skillful driver and he knows the area well.
We soon observed a large integrated herd of zebras, elands, impalas, gazelles, and others. Only this time, the wildlife was stoic, not grazing, seemingly on alert, suggesting that danger may be imminent. We had seen some jackals in the area prior to lunch, perhaps tracking the lions to support their scavenger lifestyle. Peter explained that when the “king” and the “queen” are in the area, instinct takes over and the rest of the population in the area assumes a protective mode.
We returned home at 6 p.m., headed to Cape Chestnut for a Friday night menu of tapas with some of Carol’s and Sandy’s friends from the community. They are saying farewell tonight to friend Tina, who is taking a new job in Nairobi. It was a nice ending to a great day.