Thursday, 8 August 2013

Day Four ~ Lunch with a friend (on the day of the Jackal)

Janet Goss has been a Facebook friend of ours for some time, due to our shared interest in conservation and mutual love of Tsavo East National Park. When Janet realised that we would be in Kenya at the same time, she suggested we meet for lunch at Satao Camp, where she was staying and we jumped at the chance to meet a fellow Tsavo-lover. We decided to kill two birds with one stone and use the trip to explore an area of Tsavo East we have not fully covered before; the vast Dika Plains.

With Janet on the viewing platform at Satao Camp

We began by heading along the Voi River towards the Aruba Dam, finding Elephants, Dik Dik, Masai Giraffe and many more birds, including a Bateleur Eagle. Aruba Dam was built by the first Warden of Tsavo, David Sheldrick, to provide a permanent source of water that would encourage animals to stay in the National Park during the dry season, thus preventing them from coming into conflict with people living on the periphery of the Park. For decades this worked very well but recent climate uncertainty coupled with increased use of water from the Voi River has caused the Aruba Dam to run dry almost permanently.

Masai Giraffe
The Dried Reservoir of the Aruba Dam

From there we headed SSE into the Dika Plains, a vast savannah wilderness, dotted with patches of dry scrub and small waterholes, most of which were dry. At times the vastness of the place became hypnotic, until we were awoken by coming across some interesting wildlife to photograph. One such incident involved a mirage-like apparition, moving along the track towards us in a deep heat haze. Although the form was indistinct, the rhythm and gate were obviously Jackal and we were delighted when it carried on trotting right up to us, veering slightly at the last moment to continue its progress a few feet past.

The Jackal

Another treat the Dika Plains had in store for us was the family of Dwarf Mongoose, popping in and out of the ventilation holes of a large Termite mound. We spent several minutes enjoying their antics before we had to continue our journey to reach Satao Camp by lunch-time.

We had a lovely lunch with Janet and all shared stories of our experiences of Tsavo. We discussed the changes we have witnessed; in our case since 2006 but Janet has been visiting Tsavo for 20 years, so she has seen a lot more changes. It was fantastic to meet someone who shares our passion for this incredible place.

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