Samburu is so green and lush at the moment. It has rained quite a lot here and the reserves have transformed. There is grass everywhere and the shrub Indigofera is covering the area. Elephants are back in their hundreds, full of life and energetic after the lull during the dry season in February and March. Ewaso Nyiro (meaning the Brown River) is flowing and the elephants bathe and splash around in it as if it’s a huge jacuzzi… such fun to watch. This is a real contrast to a few months ago when the river was dry and the earth bare and brown. It is beautiful now, with flowers everywhere.
The photo below shows 2 lionesses chased by some elephants in the dry river bed in March.
But… with the rains and the new growth, finding lions has become really hard! I have spent the last week or so covering every corner of the reserves and haven’t yet seen a track. Some of the bushes are higher then my car and all I see is green! (I’ve also landed up in many ditches because I cant see the road!) It appears that the lions are on the edges of the reserves with many outside in the community lands. This is common at this time of the year. I have been getting reports that lions have been killing livestock in West Gate and also South of Buffalo Springs; the latest report coming yesterday where a camel was killed.
Just after the rains…
A green Samburu
Some background to the main pride that I monitor in Samburu. Samburu (covering approx 169 square kilometers) has one main pride called the Koitogor Pride (named after the central hill in the reserve). The numbers of individuals has changed over the years with lions moving out. In 2003, there were 14 in this pride and this grew to 21 in 2005. However since then, many of the older cubs have left and unfortunately we haven’t seen new cubs in the area for a while. I am now trying to get a current estimate for the pride.
I have known Nashipai for 5 years now since she was about 2 years old. She was always seen with her 2 sisters; Nabo (meaning number one) and Ntito (meaning young girl). Over the years, Ntito moved off with her cubs and I haven’t seen her for more than a year. In 2007, Nashipai would always be with Sempei (meaning the fierce one), however sadly Sempei died in October last year after it appeared that she was poisoned. This year, Nashipai has been seen with Nabo and Uni (meaning three), one of the older females in the pride. However, none of the females have been seen since the middle of March.
Nashipai with Nabo
Each time it rains and the lions leave the reserves, I always worry that many will not come back as lions are being killed outside. Its always a huge relief to get the first sighting of the main pride members when they start coming back to the reserves after the rains and after it has dried up a bit. Last year I hadn’t seen Nashipai in 6 months and then she turned up in January; it was great to see her. Between January and March, she kept wandering all over the reserves and I would find her in places where I least expected to see her. The river was dry and the lions were crossing between Samburu and Buffalo Springs daily (the Ewaso Nyiro separates the 2 reserves).
So, where is Nashipai now? I do wonder where she has wandered off to this time…