SITREP 4  - 31 January 2018

 
A final phase of the expedition has been based at the El Karama Lodge in Kenya's high country, Laikipia.  Generously hosted by Sophie and Murray Grant our team enjoyed their hospitality, whilst taking part in a national census of Grevy's Zebra, an endangered species, now found mainly in Kenya. 
 
Moving over the sprawling flat land in El Karama's robust safari cars we photographed and studied this fine looking beast. Larger and stronger than other zebra, only 2,500 are left. This is largely due to land degradation as well as some poaching and disease.
 
The land around El Karama teems with game and we had sightings of giraffe,  elephant (25 in one herd), buffalo (up to 60), hyena, many antelope, hippo and three magestic lions. Meeting a sleek, proud leopard was a highlight of the game survey. 
 
At the Deraja Academy for girls, we provided school books and Dr João Branco gave lessons on dental hygiene. Janet Wood issued extended shoes that fit all sizes to poor pupils. Reading glasses were distributed and various members of  our team gave lectures on wide variety of subjects. 
 
Roberto Lora and Tom Rich used our camera traps to collect images of buffalo, and elephant that visited the lodge at night. 
 
Sqn Ldr Jack Holt RAF our deputy leader organised our traditional Burns Supper with Stahlys haggis. We toasted the poet with a dram or two beneath a star studded African night. 
Recordings of God Save The Queen and the Kenyan National Anthem were played on a lap top, after which members gave entertaining performances which included some powerful rendering of classic Opera by Charlotte Austwick.
 
None will forget our final  bush supper served beneath a full moon by El Karama staff.
Before leaving this memorable oasis most visited Murray's studio to see the outstanding sculptures of Wildlife, for which he is famous.  Indeed we are deeply grateful to Sophie, Murray, and all staff at El Karama for allowing us to spend a few days at this world class eco- lodge. An experience no one will forget.
 
Thus the expedition was completed with its mission accomplished!
End

 

Sitrep No 3 - 24 January 2018

Encouraging elephants to use the special corridor and underpasses beneath the main roads can prove a hazardous task. In recent days two tuskers have short circuited the electric fence and climbed over the 5 foot high wires to feed on local farmers crops.
 
Our Mount Kenya Trust rangers succeeded in getting one back into the corridor but a well known rougue, named Meru, is still loose in the farmland. He charged one ranger who ran and fell over in front of the huge animal, but managed to scramble up and escape with a few cuts and bruises. 
 
Our Horse Team led by Jerseyman, David Langlois, has now returned after patrolling the wildlife reserves up to 11,500 feet on Mount Kenya. Travelling by horse and on foot they  found the nights extremely cold and water supplies froze. One night a prowling leopard caused the horses to escape but they were recaptured. Zebra, eland, duiker, mongoose and eagles were sited on the higher slopes. Stunning geological formations and tall lobelia were also encountered.  Dr Helen Pickup used an oxymeter to check oxygen levels and found they decreased noticeably with the altitude. New patrol routes, campsites and water resources were surveyed and evidence was found of temporary shelters, possibly built by poachers. 
 
Dr João Branco and LtCol Dr Kam Khan have carried out several difficult tooth extractions from over 40 patients at Gundua Clinic.
 
Over 100 pairs of reading glasses have been distributed by Sue Downham and Sarah Cohen.
Camera traps deployed in the elephant corridor have successfully filmed elephant, wild dogs, porcupine, water buck and wild pig. The positioning of the camera traps has been carried out with great care by Tom Batty, Roberto Lora and Tom Rich. 
 
Most of our tasks with the Mount Kenya Trust have only been possible thanks to the valuable assistance of their rangers. These outstanding men devote their lives to protecting wildlife.
Now we move on to El Karama lodge, Laikipia for our next project.
Ends

Sitrep No 2 - 20 January 2018

Some 800 pupils (3-15 years old) and their parents attended the opening of the new classroom at Nkiria School on slopes of Mount Kenya yesterday. 

Construction was funded by Newport Uskmouth Rotary Club and building was completed by a team led  by Sqn Ldr Jack Holt RAF. Dancing, singing by pupils as they received books bought by SES and supporters. 
Horse patrol led by David Langlois of Jersey are working with game guards and vet Danielle Jackson has been treating Mount Kenya Trust horses and guard dogs captured from poachers. 
Medical team under LtCol Kam Khan RAMC have treated over 100 local people whilst dentist  Dr. João Branco of Portugal and Yolima Cipagauta of Colombia are attending to many patients. 
All teams have encountered wildlife and a bull elephant tried to break through the electric fence near our main camp. 
Ends

Sitrep No 1 - 15 January 2018

Expedition arrived safely at Nairobi. Visited Sheldrick elephant orphanage, Giraffe centre and Karen Blixen Museum. Moving by road to Nanyuki and Mt Kenya on 16 January. Weather superb.

Ends.

 

 

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© Colonel John Blashford-Snell OBE DSc(Hon) DEng(hc) FRSGS