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amybatt posted a topic in Latest Conservation news and talkI received a mailing yesterday from David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust which was an appeal for donations for a new partnership, working with the Meru Rhino Sanctuary on a massive expansion project. They note that the rhino population was decimated in the 70s-80s but now has 61 white and 28 black rhinos living in the sanctuary. DSWT has already worked to help establish rhino sanctuaries in Nakuru and Ngulia, so this wouldn't be the first time doing this. The proposed project would address the inadequate habitats in the existing Meru sanctuary, doubling the size of the sanctuary, replacing the perimeter fence allowing for wildlife corridors and expanding the western boundary of park and building security bases throughout the sanctuary to enable patrols and protection. Long term goal is to "harbor one of the largest rhino populations in Kenya...serve as a donor to repopulate other areas where rhinos have been eradicated." Total cost is estimated at US$400,000, so understandably they're reaching out to supporters for help. I share this in case anyone else is interested in donating. I'm curious about the existing Meru Rhino Sanctuary, has anyone been, and what's the rhino sighting experience like there?
Lois Hild Photography posted a topic in KenyaThis was my longest, four weeks, safari, and the first time I was responsible for leading a group, unless you call my husband and myself a group. There were actually two groups. One group of eight visited three of the four David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust facilities, leaving out the Voi Reintigration Unit, and spent a week in the Mara at Kicheche Bush Camp in Olare Motorogi, and then a more serious group of photographers joined me at Kicheche Mara Camp in Mara North Conservancy for a week followed by a week at Lewa Safari Camp in Lewa Wildlife Conservancy. The first group consisted mostly of supporters of the DSWT who wanted to visit the orphan elephants they sponsor and add in a little safari. None had ever traveled out of the US before, let alone been on safari. I will spare you the details of the joys of managing that and stick to the facts you really want to know about the places we visited. The arrangements were all booked through Bustani Safaris. It is a husband and wife team, the wife being native Kenyan. They only do custom safari arrangements, no pre-packaged trips. You tell them what you want to do and they make it happen. Jambi has a way of getting things done! The safari really started in Karen with a visit to the Giraffe Centre to see the Rothschilde giraffes there. I know we all go to Africa to see animals in the wild, but there is also something about being really close. I mean REALLY close. (My beautiful daughter.) From there we went for a private visit with the orphaned elephants at the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust in the Nairobi National Park. Our group was allowed to mingle with the elephants at feeding time. Dinner and overnight accommodations were at Karen Blixen Cottages. Highly recommend. The group was in high spirits from the day's activities and in anticipation of the bush flight the next day. The next day it was off to Wilson Airport. The completion of the Southern Bypass has definitely helped eased the traffic congestion. It's a shame though the impact it has had on the park. We chartered a Cessna 208 Caravan from Safarilink to fly us to Umani Springs in the Kibwezi Forest in the Chyulu Hills. There are no scheduled flights near here and with eight in the party plus extra photo gear the cost was reasonable. The even had a sack meal for us for the 45 min. flight! They took special care of my camera gear, two rolling bags, a large Gura Gear backpack and my 400mm in a soft case. They let me keep it in my possession right up until the time it was loaded into the cargo hold. Our two guides and vehicles and Jambi and Peter had left in the wee hours of the morning with the food and the ALCOHOL in time to meet us at the grass airstirp. The DSWT properties are self-catering in that you provide food and beverage. They provide everything else, including a chef named Peter at Umani who in my book could cook at any 5 star restaurant. The waiter, another Peter, was friendly and attentive. Housekeeping and laundry was done with a smile by Lefty and Michael patrolled the unfenced grounds at night to make sure wildlife didn't cause any trouble. It's about a 20 minute drive through Chyulu National Park and the Kibwezi Forest to the lodge, but it's not really a game drive. The bush is very thick and other than a few bushbuck and a squirrel that kept playing chicken with our Land Cruisers, we could spot very little wildlife. Tse tse flies were also in residence at the time, so the vehicles had to remain closed up. In other words, we were there to see the elephants, not go on game drives. The lodge itself rivals some of the finest in Kenya, as long as you enjoy outdoor showers and commodes for some of the units. Showers are running water, solar heated. Hyrax right outside my balcony As guest of the lodge you have exclusive rights to visit the orphans at the Umani Springs Reintegration Unit. Most of the elephants here have special needs and have been brought to this newest unit in the forest environment which is less demanding that the Tsavo region of the other units where orphans are reintroduced to the wild. You can visit at 6am at feeding time until the elephants decide it is time to walk out into the bush, usually about an hour, again at 11 am at the mud bath right in front of the lodge, and again at the stockades at 5pm for their evening feeding. The keepers are with you at all times for everyone's safety and are happy to answer all questions. They are also very happy to take pictures of you with the elephants, especially if your camera is set on burst! While relaxing at the lodge we were able to observe many birds, butterflies, baboons, and a distant herd of wild elephants. We took a bush walk to the springs hoping to see the 12 ft python that is a resident, but no luck. After three nights we packed into the vehicles and headed for the northern part of Tsavo East and Ithumba Camp. To be continued... And I hope this green tint is gone once I post. It's not in my photos in Lightroom, only when I preview them here. My monitor was calibrated two days ago.