THE GREAT GREVYS RALLY- MY STORY

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Hey guys,

Would you like to go on an adventure of a lifetime? Are you a conservation/ wildlife enthusiast? Would like an opportunity to get involved as a citizen scientist? The great grevys rally 2018 is coming up at the end of this month 27th -28th to be specific. I had an opportunity to participate in the rally in 2016 which turned out to be the most epic weekend.  If you ask my friends they will tell you I have been talking about it for two years!!

Overview (over-simplified )

 The great grevys rally  was originally designed to estimate the population of the grevy zebras through photographing the right side of the zebra and later using IBEIS (Image based Ecological Information system) to analyze the data. According to the last census the estimated figure stands at 2350. Grevy Zebras are  classified as one  of the most endangered mammals and  are only found in parts of northern Kenya and Ethiopia.

In this years great grevys rally teams will be photographing both the endangered grevy zebra and reticulated giraffes.

In my post today, I would like to give you guys  a guideline on what to expect as a citizen scientist based on my experience in 2016.

How to identify a grevy zebra

  • It is slightly bigger than the plain zebra
  • It has a white belly
  • It has narrow stripes
  • It has a broader neck and larger ears.

This is not a comprehensive list but I hope it is a good start before you come up with your own observations once you take part in this event.

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A plain zebra photographed at  Nairobi national park
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A grevy zebra photographed at Mpala research center

There are three species of giraffes in Kenya ( the reticulated giraffe, Rothschild giraffe and Maasai giraffe) since the grevys rally will be taking place in five counties in northern Kenya, Laikipia, Samburu, Isiolo, Meru and Marsabit, you will most likely only see the reticulated giraffes here so you will not have a challenge identifying them.

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Reticulated giraffes photographed at Mpala research center

   The rally organizers will provide one  GPS enabled camera per team which you will use to photograph the right side of both the grevy zebras and reticulated giraffes. You are supposed to get as close as possible to the animals to take photos but please please do not harass them.  You will need a lot of patience since you will find them in groups but the rules of the game dictate that you have to single them out to get good individual photos. This is going to be a challenge but trust me you will enjoy the hide and seek.

PS you are allowed to carry other cameras.

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A dazzle of grevy zebras ( Mpala research center)

Some will hide in the bush while others will play in the sand in classic donkey style. You will look at your photos at the end of the day and wonder what you were doing but do not worry it is part of the process. The side shows made the experience worthwhile in 2016.

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Play time ( Mpala research center)

But eventually you will get good photos

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The type of photo you should take (right side of a grevy)
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or this one

The plain zebras will come out to play as well… do not let them confuse you

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Common zebra ( Mpala research center)

Now that this time we will be photographing reticulated giraffes as well, I can already foresee a challenge if they behave like the one in the photos below but you have to admit they are pretty amazing photos.

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  You will find a lot of other animals… photograph them as well, you will appreciate the photos later trust me. Before ggr2016, I had never seen so many elephants in one day and at such close proximity. There was a scary moment though when an elephant charged at our vehicle. We later found out it had a calf…classic protective mother.

Remember to keep a respectful distance.

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You will meet amazing people. I met more than half my team on the first day of the rally and they turned out to be amazing people. I also met some cool photographers and reporters from CNN, ran into my high school classmate Beryl Wambani (then working for NTV),  the US ambassador to Kenya Bob Godec and the amazing professor Dan Rubenstein popularly known as Zebra Dan for his outstanding research on Zebras.

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Kids from Mpala primary school
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My team + 2 guy in the  fro Amref

 

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Professor Dan explaining something to Robin Kriel (CNN) and Bob Godec (US ambassador to Kenya)

     You will come across amazing landscapes in the five participating counties. If you haven’t chosen a destination yet, allow me to be biased because I am after all #proudly_laikipian… Choose Laikipia. Come and experience Laikipias finest. It may give you a new perspective of Laikipia different from what has dominated the media since late 2016.

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The bow (Mpala research center)
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Beauty in motion
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A Mpala research center sunrise
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Views from below and top
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Sunrise

 Finally, you will have an amazing adventure to jump start your 2018 and you will have contributed towards the conservation efforts for two endangered species.

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My squad and amazing driver/guide (He knew all the right places to go)

 

 My question is…What are you waiting for? Register your squad here today!  I hope to see you all in Laikipia or read your stories from other participating counties.

Adventure awaits!!

Leave a comment or question and I will be happy to answer.

Yours truly,

Mukuhi.

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2.0.1.7

If you truly love nature, you will find beauty everywhere

Vincent Van Gogh.

Hello everyone & happy new year!

I hope you all are having a great start to the new year. After having a super amazing 2017 I couldn’t think of a better way to start the blog this year than taking a photographic journey through my year.
I had a chance to visit quite a number of places that I had never been to, had the most amazing road trips to Marsabit, Kisumu, Homabay and Mbita, sat at the shores of Lake Victoria where I was treated to amazing views and  witnessed the most gorgeous sunset in Kericho (Sadly I didn’t take a photo)… I could go on and on. 

Below is a sneak peek. I hope the photos inspire you to go out more, appreciate nature, conserve your environment and  live your purpose.

Cheers to an amazing and adventurous 2018!

Leave a comment.

Love and blessings

 Mukuhi.

A view of Mt. Kenya from Oljogi conservancy
A buffalo bachelor herd (Olpejeta conservancy)
Sunset in Naromoru
A Mt Kenya Sunrise
The great north road
Interior Decor (Jambo Mutara Camp).
Elephant view point (Samburu Simba lodge)
A Southern white rhino at sunset (Olpejeta conservancy)
A Lewa Wildlife conservancy  sunrise
Jackson’s horn bill (Lewa wildlife conservancy)
Beautiful landscapes at Lewa Wildlife conservancy at sunrise
more of Lewa
Betty is her name…you can meet her at the giraffe center Nairobi
My sister Njoki and Betty ( Girrafe center).
my favorite rock formation (Laikipia North)
Magical views from Musul (Laikipia North)
Sunset shot from Homabay Market
A sunset boat ride at Homabay
A view from the top (fourteen falls)
Road tripping through the North… I hope to camp on this mountain in 2018
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Close encounters (Oljogi Conservancy) PS I hope to see a wild Leopard in 2018
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More close encounters ( Best moment 2017)
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Natural very cold pool (Ngarendare forest)

 

A WILD SUNDOWNER

Sunset

Pour me a sunset, kill the night and I promise to drink with you forever.

     William G. Herman

 

Hello my people,

Have you ever had an experience so surreal you cannot put it in words? Well that is how I feel as I post this about my recent game drive at sundown at my favorite park. You guessed right… Olpejeta! I have written about it before on All hail the marsh, our cheeky relatives and what we lost along the way.

On this game drive, I only covered a small radius of the 90,000 acre conservancy and below a few photos that best summarize my experience. I hope you like them  and if you would like to visit the conservancy, which I believe you should, here is a summary of what to expect:

  1. Unlike many parks in this region, Olpejeta is open to the locals anytime…no appointment needed.
  2. It is the only place in Kenya with Chimpanzees
  3. It is home to all the big five
  4. The paths are clearly marked so with or without a guide, you can figure your way around
  5. It is the biggest black rhino sanctuary in East africa
  6. It is home to the world’s last three northern white rhinos (1 male &2 females)

For more information on more activities, accommodation and park fees check out their website. 

Until the next one,

leave a comment

Love & love

Mukuhi

 

 

Egyptian goose with her brood
An Egyptian goose & her brood
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A lioness by the road

Lioness 1

Sacred ibis
The sacred Ibis
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Southern white rhinos

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S white rhinos 1

S white rhino portrait

 

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A giraffe silhouette

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A giraffe silhouette at a watering point
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The spotted hyena giving me the side eye

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Spotted hyena at sunset
Colors of nature!

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giraffe and hyena portrait
#thehyena #thegiraffe one shot

 

Me silhoette 2
sunset dance because why not?

 

 

POSITIVE  VIBES  FROM  LAIKIPIA  

Nature always wears the color of the spirit and nature comes in different forms…trees, animals,  sky etc etc… Over the last couple of months I have been out and about in Laikipia North which in my opinion holds some of the most beautiful and unexplored landscapes in this country.

I say this because lately, there has been a lot of negative buzz on Laikipia because of the illegal land invasions and general lawlessness in the area.  I have read most commentaries and opinions on the matter which are Unfortunately biased because some of these writers  have either never ventured  into these parts of Laikipia or  have lived here long enough to have a one sided opinion.
Any who,  I don’t want to get into the politics surrounding the whole issue, what I can do is share the beauty that awaits you in this remote part of Kenya once the dust has settled.  Trust me if you are a nature/ wildlife lover you will want to put this in your Kenyan adventure bucket list

Here are a few photos from Oljogi conservancy in Laikipia North from a few weeks back.

Until next time

Love & love

Mukuhi

Mr Eagle
Owl
Toucan
The crested crane
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Mr. Lion
Cheetah
Mr. Bear
The elephants

Mr. Very old leopard
Gulley erosion in a snap shot
And a cow /hardy cow
Wild dogs

Proudly_laikipian

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Sunrise -Mpala Research Centre

Hello,

It has been a moment since I  posted because lately my day job has been a little more demanding than usual. Despite that,  I must say that 2016 has been a great year since it started on such a high with the great Grevy’s Rally, a  two day action filled adventure and my cameras first serious gig.

I have embraced the quote “Every year visit a place you have not visited before.”    I attended the Lewa Marathon for the first time  (as a spectator),  I went to Archers post (first time in samburu County) and the most memorable visit was to Loisaba conservancy which is tucked  away in the ‘middle of no where’ in Laikipia North.  I can bet not many people know this place exists.

In my two part post,  I would like to share a few photos from my few trips around Laikipia in the hope that they will awaken your spirit of adventure and  a desire to conserve these amazing gifts of nature in Laikipia and the rest of Kenya.

Here is todays installment of beautiful Laikipia.

Until the next one,

Lots of love

Mukuhi 😍

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The great rock of Ilpolei
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Chimpanzee grooming session -Olpejeta Conservancy
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The great Kudu – Loisaba conservancy
Illiegal grazing - Loisaba
Herd of cattle illegally grazing – Loisaba conservancy
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Elephant March – Loisaba conservancy
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Ostrich and landscape -Loisaba conservancy
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Open grass lands -Loisaba conservancy
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The amazing Mount Kenya at Sunrise – Nanyuki

OUR CHEEKY RELATIVES

GROOMING

Photography: Mukuhi Wanjohi

Location: Sweetwaters chimpanzee sanctuary (Ol pejeta conservancy)

Have you ever been to the chimpanzee sanctuary at Ol pejeta conservancy? If not let me tell you what you have been missing. Anyone who went through the Kenyan  8-4-4 education system must have been told that primates are our closest relatives based on the evolution theory and the general appearance of apes (whichever kind). At that time none of us set out to understand that statement because truth is we were just trying to pass our exams and move on to the next level. This place will not only elaborate the statement but also answer all the questions you were afraid to ask your history teacher.

Interacting with chimpanzees and listening to Yego (my favorite guide at the sanctuary) has made understand just how close we are. I was a little girl during my first visit here and my most memorable chimpanzee was Bahati who came out as quite the show off as he jumped from one branch to the other. Back in those days, one could go on a boat ride in the Ewaso Ngiro river and so we huddled into a boat and off we went. One of the chimpanzees (most likely Max) ran after the boat and threw as many stones as he could at our boat. Let’s just say 95% of that boat ride was spent crouching inside the boat praying that the stones would not make it inside. Yego told me the boat rides have since been abolished because a chimp once jumped into a boat and beat up a tourist injuring her seriously

 

RELAX MODE

Occasionally Max still throws stones at people but I can’t blame him considering his traumatic past and that of the other chimps in the sanctuary. Most of them are refugees of war from Central Africa while others like Mary were kept in captivity in South Sudan. Others were transported across international borders in inhumane conditions before they found a home at Sweetwaters.

These creatures are very intelligent and have an amazing memory. A few weeks back, I found Max really agitated throwing stones at everything and everyone.  My guide that day told me it was because a certain politician came to visit bringing along his gun-bearing security detail.  Did I mention chimps have a good memory and they still remember the guns and the war in the Congo? Those security guys tried to hide behind view tower but Max was determined to show them who was the boss in that territory. On that note, I think America needs chimps like Max who have zero tolerance for guns.

GROOMING

Chimpanzees walk on their fours but some can stand or move on their twos. No one does it better than Poco. Last week he was lying in the bushes but the moment a bunch of school kids showed up he got up and gave them a show to remember. I don’t think they will ever forget it the same way I have never forgotten Bahati.

GROOMING (2)

Unfortunately, Chimpanzees in captivity do not have the opportunities to exploit their full potential like their counterparts in the wild. Remember how in Madagascar ( the animation) Marty was fascinated by the thought of going out to the wild, am sure some of these chimps feel the same way. Lucky for them Ol pejeta engages them in a number of activities to keep them active and creative.  According to Yego and maybe science, the females are more intelligent than the males.  There have been incidents where they have orchestrated a ‘prison break’ by tampering with the electric fence but not to worry if this ever happens when you are there because there is a visitors safety cage where one can run for safety.

SAD EYES
you with the sad eyes…

Judy has the saddest eyes I have ever seen. Makes you want to breach the electric fence and go give her a hug. She uses her forearms for movement since polio affected her hind legs. She is, however, a lovely chimp who makes funny faces and nods when you speak to her.

MOVEMENT
Judy

 

This one (Cant remember his name) grew up in ‘shags’ because he knows that when you have a thorn in your flesh, you use another thorn to remove it. If that is not being brilliant, I don’t know what is.

THORN IN THE FLESH
Thorn in the flesh!

 

I could go on and on about these amazing creatures but I will leave with a few facts about chimpanzees

  1. They are humans closest relatives with 98% of our genetic makeup
  2. Their main habitat is rainforests and sometimes open Savannah and woodlands
  3. They live in families with  usually with one dominant male who has the mating rights (according to Yego there are clande manenos in chimpanzee world)
  4. They are endangered due to habitat loss, hunting for bushmeat and commercial trade.
  5. They can walk on fours but can stand  upright and move  on their two

SIGN POST

You can become part of the Chimpanzee story by visiting the sweetwaters chimpanzee sanctuary especially the adoption center. Here you can adopt as many chimpanzees as you want from rates as low as 10$. Every dollar counts so go to the adoption center here and make your contribution.

#conservationforever

Until next time, thank you for reading…

Love

Mukuhi