Another Herpetologist Needed

We ran into this interesting snake in the Mathews. It moved away fast enough that i only got the following images before it was gone. The closest i could get using the book was a Desert Black-headed Snake. Does that seem about right, snake people? The book suggest that this is an uncommon species with a limited range in Kenya and this is why i hesitate in my ID.snake2snake

Herpetologist Needed

Ran into this murder scene in the Mathews Range. The snake, I’m familiar with. He is a Speckled Sand Snake. The lizard though, seems different. We have southern long-tailed Lizards around common in Laikipia but this guys coloration is so utterly different (as well he seems more stocky). I cant seem to get an ID from the book. Any ideas?
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Grevy’s coming to salt at camp daily

Grevy Zebra

Grevy’s are an endangered species and 90 percent of their poulation lives in Laikipia, Kenya

Squatters are Bad for the Environment

Over much of Kenya you will find derelict land occupied by a few squatters. In our area of Laikipia there are two huge ranches that have been taken over by squatters. The land has been totally denuded and all the trees have been felled for charcoal. Here is a picture of a the boundary between a well managed private farm on the left and a farm that has been taken over by squatters on the right.
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Why in gods name i ask is squatting a good idea? This land is worth millions of dollars. If this property could be purchased it would most likely be purchased by someone who would revive the natural habitat and manage for wildlife since tourism has been shown to be one of the best means of making a living in this area. The buyer would then need to employ many people to help look after the property as well as the businesses on it. It is likely that the buyer could hire more people than live there anyway. Squatting rights is one of those things i will never understand. Why a country like Kenya allows people to steal and destroy private property is beyond me.

AArdwolf Picture

RAnger Kechine got this picture of a pair of Aarwolves the other morning.

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Bat Identification Help Wanted

We had these nice big bats coming to the stream beside our camp in the Mathews Range. While the photos are rather blurred i thought that a bat person could at least make a sound suggestion as to what species we might have here.  Thanks for your help.

Cheers, James

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A Most Interesting Parasitic Flower

On a recent backpacking trip through the Mathew’s Range we ran into a few examples of this most stunning plant.  A bit of research suggested that it could possibly be Hydnora africana, a parasitic of Euphorbia.  The description that we found online though shows a Euphorbia very different from the ones that we have in the Mathews and we wondered if  this Hydnora could possibly be a different species.

…Interesting.  Anyone have a clue?

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Lion Eats Camera Trap

When Tumaren Rangers, Nuno, longamon and Kichine heard that 8 of the neighbors cows had been killed by lions after they had been left out for the night, they rushed to the scene to place a cameratrap on the carcasses.  When they returned in the morning they could see by the tracks that a Lion had returned and fed then paced all about where the cameratrap had been.  Yet, tho and behold, the cameratrap was gone!  They suspected foul play but could see no sign of human tracks.  They decided to follow the lionesses tracks instead.  Over the course of half a kilometer they followed her tracks until they came upon the rather bruised camertrap with a whole through its glass.  The lioness at this point let out a growl from adjacent bush and the Rangers left.  Later ranger Kichine while walking in the same area found why this lioness has been so faithful to this little patch of bush – she has 3 kittens!  We have spoken now to all our rangers, congratulating them firstly on their discovery and asking them to leave this area alone for several more months until our lioness and her young move on.  The following is a picture of mumma lioness minutes before she took the camera and then a picture of the camera itself with bite marks and a damaged glass.

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Baby Elephant Rescue: Part 3

We went recently to visit Tumaren at her new home at The Sheldrick Trust Orphanage.  What a pleasure it was to see how happy she was with all her friends foraging in natural bush within Nairobi National Park.

I couldnt determine if Tumaren recongnized me after our long streesful night together a while back but his keeper felt that she did.  She and many of the other young Elephants would suck our fingers which evidently allows them to get to know us.  Another common method for greeting an elephant is to blow into its trunk.

After hanging with the Ele’s out in the bush for a while the keepers whistled and told them all it was time for milk. It was amazing to see how quickly they responded to the command, knowing exactly the routine and lining up for their march back to their comfortable quarters.

Back at milk time we met with the other group of orphans returning from their afternoon foraging.  At the Sheldrick Elephant Baracks we were so impressed by the comfort and care provided to each and every orphan. Above each enclosure there was a hanging cot for each keeper.  With baby elephants this is necessary as they are rather ‘needy’ and can deteriorate without companionship.

This year the orphanage has received more elephants than ever.  The drought here is stressing the herds and many younger elephants are dying of starvation and even adults like Tumaren’s mum are succumbing to drought related illnesses.  In times like this we must be very thankful that there is such a warm and caring place as the Sheldrick Orphanage.

http://www.sheldrickwildlifetrust.org/asp/orphans.asp

The following image tell the whole happy story. Please spread the news about this great place that so helps animals in need.

Kerry, Rufous and Tumaren

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The gang foraging in Nairobi National Park

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Jamie and Tumaren

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Ele greeting.

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Julia Glen and Tumaren

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Julia Glen and Tumaren

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The Eles are told its time to go for Milk.

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The Milk Train.

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Jennifer being followed..

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Tumaren at his quarters.

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On the cute scale this ranks rather high…

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Baby Aardvark Rescue Part 2

Excellent news, the baby Aardvark (who we may have named Aarthur) has survived his operation.  For three hours Dr. Dietter Rottcher and Dr. Sanjay Gautama worked on a broken hind femur which was snapped clear in 2.  They put in a metal pin, a standard operation for a dog but for a species as different as an Aardvark, rather unchartered territory.  Both Doctors reported just how different his anatomy was and how the articulation at the joints was utterly odd.  Their best accesible anatomy book was for a Dog’s muscles which is rather like using a Ford Fairmount Manual to drive the Space Shuttle. The most frightening part of the surgery though was the anaesthesia.

As part of our research we contacted a series of specialist Vets and Curators connected to American Zoos. Dr. Roberto Aguilar Veterinary Advisor – Xenartha Taxon Advisory Group was very helpful in recomending specific drugs and techniques that have worked well for him in surgery with Aardvarks and Pangolins.   I cant remember the specific drug that Dr. Rottcher used but he mentioned that it was an ‘old fashioned’ one and that he did not have access to many of the modern drugs mentioned in the email from Dr. Aguilar. This had us worried, especially when it took Aarthur so long to come out of his drugged state.  When we visited him in the evening at 7pm Aarthur was still totally out of it and unable to drink or eat.  This was 4 hours after the surgery. Under the close and compassionate care of the Rottcher Family though, Aarthur made it through the night drinking  roughly 90 Ml of his milk and termite milk shake when he finally stirred in the early hours of the morning.

Now Arthur has been home with us for a full 24 hours. He is eating well and sleeping well and is living now by the foot of our bed in a wooden box to contain his movement of his injured limb.  We are feeding him every 2-3 hours but hope that we can find an easier schedule as we get to know Aarthur’s needs.  A number of people besides those mentioned above have been very helpful advising us on how best to care for an Aardvark. We thank them for their kindness and they are mentioned in no particular order below:

John Gramieri – Mammal Curator San Antonia Zoo

Angela Price – Memphis Zoo

Joe Flanagan – Houston Zoo

Ron Surratt – Ft Worth Zoo

Sheryl Dikeman – Omaha Zoo

Doug Armstrong – Omaha Zoo

Mandi Olsen – Omaha Zoo

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