94. African Rhinos – Black and White

Rhinoceroses are large herbivorous animals
identified by their characteristic horned snouts.

Source: San Diego Zoo Global Wildlife Conservancy

They have been living on Earth for nearly 12 million years.
Although they were probably a lot woollier back then.

The woolly rhinoceros is thought to have died out 10,000 years ago.

There are five species of rhino.
Two species, the Black Rhino and the White Rhino, are native to Africa.

Source: Travel4Wildlife.com

There is actually very little color difference between black rhinos and white rhinos.
They are both dark grey in color.
The color of both species can vary greatly depending on local soil conditions, as all rhinos tend to roll about in the dust and mud.

Rhinos like to wallow in mud in order to create a protective layer on their sensitive skin. This prevents sunburn and insect bites, and helps to keep them cool.

Source: Animal Facts Encyclopedia

The white rhino is the larger of the two African species. They can grow to 6 feet in height and weigh more than 5,000 lbs. Appropriately, a group of rhinos is called a crash.


Typically, rhinos live in crashes of 3 – 10, relying on each other for protection.
Black rhinos are solitary animals and must take responsibility for their own well-being. They tend to be the more aggressive of the two species.

African rhinos only have hair on their ears, tail tips and eyelashes.

Rhinos have three toes, making their closest relatives tapirs, zebras and horses.
They have poor eyesight, but a heightened sense of smell and an excellent sense of hearing.

Source: Exploring Africa

While out on safari, one of the ways to distinguish between the black rhino and the white rhino is by looking at the animal’s top lip.

Source: Phil Perry

A black rhino has a specialized (prehensile) upper lip that is capable of grasping and browsing.

A browser is a herbivore that specializes in eating leaves, fruits of high-growing woody plants, soft shoots and shrubs. A browser does not feed on grass or other low growing vegetation.)

The white rhino has a wide, flat upper lip that’s perfect for grazing. (A grazer is a herbivore that feeds on plants such as grass and other low-lying vegetation. You know, they graze just like cows and sheep.)

Both species have two horns which are made of tightly woven filaments of keratin, not bone. Keratin is a protein found in human hair, fingernails and animal hooves.
The horns are not attached to its skull.

The longest horn on record belonged to a white rhino and measured just under five feet. 

Rhinos need to drink once a day, so they stay within 5 km of water. In very dry conditions, they can dig for water using their forefeet.

Rhinos have been hunted nearly to extinction. Their horns are sometimes sold as trophies or decorations, but more often they are ground up and used in traditional Chinese medicine.

Remarkable recoveries have been seen over the past ten years for several species, including the black rhino in Africa but poaching remains the largest threat. Until just months ago, only two Northern White Rhino remained in the world.

93. The No. 1 Souvenir

Souvenirs aren’t really my thing. They used to be, but I simply have too much junk nowadays. Can’t imagine adding to it.
When I do buy, I’m careful to only buy items that I’m absolutely, positively sure I’ll use when the trip is over.

Except . . . there is this one item I’ll never use when I return home, and it is Number 1 on my Souvenir List.

I hope to purchase the wooden walking stick I’ll be using on my trek to see the gorillas.

Nothing fancy. Just an ordinary stick.

I imagine I’ll have to finagle a way to get it on the plane home. Once there, I’ll hang it on my wall and let the memories flash before me whenever I look upon it.

92. My Land is Kenya

According to a not too recent Weekend Edition on NPR, Kenyans are crazy about country music.
They enjoy songs from the 70s and 80s best, and are particularly fond of Dolly Parton and Kenny Rogers.
As much as you’re apt to hear Patsy Cline, Crystal Gayle and Vince Gill playing in the local bars,
Kenyans don’t follow U.S. country singers exclusively.

Source: pangesprogressedux, Roger Whittaker – My Land is Kenya, YouTube (Time: 3:55)

“My Land is Kenya,” by Nairobi-born folk artist Roger Whittaker, makes even the young hip-hop crowd stand a little bit taller. (If you take time to watch and listen to the video, you’ll note that his signature whistling skills come through loud and clear.)

The song isn’t in danger of becoming a hit in my house anytime soon,
but it does have some nice lines:

“My land is Kenya, so warm and wild and green.
You’ll always stay with me here in my heart.
My land is Kenya, right from your highlands to the sea.
You’ll always stay with me here in my heart, here in my heart.”
(Whittaker. Roger Whittaker in Kenya: A Musical Safari, 1982)

Try not to compare it to Woody Guthrie’s “This Land is Your Land,” and just think of it as a musical warmup to today’s rather boring topic.

My Land is Kenya
and it’s covered with more than savanna grasslands.

Source: Quartz Africa


Kenya Forest

While providing habitats for animals and livelihoods for humans, forests also offer watershed protection, prevent soil erosion and mitigate climate change.

Sadly, Kenya is still allowing its forests to disappear.
From 1990 to 2015, forest cover declined by 25%.


Croplands in Kenya

Agricultural cropland refers to that share of land suited for crops where there is no need to replant after harvest (e.g. coffee, rubber, fruit trees, etc.). Cropland has increased exponentially in the last 25 years.


The Kenyan wetlands are resources of great economic, cultural and scientific value.

Wetlands provide critical habitats for a wide range of flora and fauna, including a large number of aquatic plants, resident and migratory birds, fish, and herbivores. 

Wetlands are areas of great scenic beauty. They are a tourist attraction, form important recreation sites for game and birds watching, swimming, photography and sailing.

They’re important sources of water for human consumption, agriculture and the watering of livestock. They recharge wells and springs that are often the only source of water to some rural communities.


Savanna grasslands are found where rainfall between 20-50 inches is concentrated into a few months.

Kenya’s rainy season is March-May and September–October, with long periods of drought in between.
Once it rains in March, the grasses grow very rapidly, sometimes as much as an inch a day. Lots of animals are born at this time. In a good rainy season, there’s plenty of food for animals like the antelope, and mothers will have plenty of milk for their young.


In Kenya there are only three incorporated cities but there are numerous municipalities and towns with significant urban populations.


Source: Text and image provided by the Kenya Embassy in Belgium

Nairobi, the capital city of the Republic has grown from a simple Uganda Railway construction camp to a modern center of commercial, financial, manufacturing and tourist destination in eastern Africa.

It replaced Mombasa as Kenya’s capital in 1907 and became a city in 1950. Today, the city population stands at about 4 million. Both the Great North Road (Cairo to Cape Town) and the Trans-African Highway (Mombasa to Lagos) pass through the city.


Source: Text and image provided by the Kenya Embassy in Belgium

Mombasa is the second largest city in the country, with a population of about 600,000. It is the official gateway to the country by sea. It has a history dating back to more than 2,000 years, when the Persians, Arabs, Greeks and Romans visited the East African Coast and carried out trade between the Coast and the Mediterranean Lands.

It is built on what was formerly an island, separated from the mainland by a narrow channel until a causeway was built at the beginning of this century, connecting the island with the mainland. Tourists come to Mombasa Island to enjoy its calm beauty, once described by Winston Churchill (1908) as “alluring and delicious”.

91. Friday’s Flyer: White-Bellied Go-Away-Bird

White-Bellied Go-Away-Bird *

I can answer that question.
The White-Bellied Go-Away-Bird gets its name from the distinctive call it uses when it feels threatened — g’way, g’way!

Go-Away-Birds are semi-zygodactylous. Didn’t know that, did you?

Let me explain. Zygodactyly is an arrangement of digits in birds with two toes facing forward and two back.
Go-Away-Birds are semi-zygodactylous, meaning their fourth (outer) toe can be switched back and forth.

The bill is black in the male, pea-green in the female. They often have prominent crests and long tails. 

The White-Bellied Go-Away Bird feeds on fruits, flowers, nectar, leaves and seed pods.  It’s considered a pest in some regions, raiding orchards and plantations of fruiting trees and vegetable crops.

 Why feature the White-Bellied Go-Away-Bird?

Now, who wouldn’t be at least a little bit curious about a bird whose official name is Go-Away?

90. Kahawa *

Kenya Coffee is widely considered to be among the best coffees in the world.

Kenya’s perfect coffee growing climate, rich soil and wet processing method combine to produce the finest beans.
It would stand to reason that Kenyans are enjoying their coffee all across the country – morning, noon and night.

Yet Kenyans, who were once citizens of the former British Kenya Colony, have inherited The Crown’s preference for tea rather than coffee.

Still, one can find some highly recommended coffee houses in the country’s capital.
The following cafes were approved on several sites (among them, Robert Omgija, at travelstartblog, Corlena Bailey at Culture Trip, Tripadvisor, YouTube, Foursquare and Yelp).

Nairobi Java House
One of the first coffee shops in Nairobi and home to one of Kenya’s best hand-roasted coffees is Nairobi Java House.
Apparently, it’s Nairobi’s answer to Starbucks.
From its website:
Java House opened its first store in 1999 at Adam’s Arcade in Nairobi. With the aim of introducing gourmet coffee drinking culture in Kenya, the first outlet was a coffee shop and later the brand evolved to an American diner style restaurant to its present-day status as a 3 -day part coffee-led, casual dining concept.”
Nairobi Java House, ABC Pl., Waiyaki Way, Nairobi, Kenya,
+254 20 350 4468

Artcaffe Coffee and Bakery
From its website:
Artcaffe is a full service bakery, coffee shop, bar and casual dining restaurant,open daily from 7am to midnight that targets customers of all ages who care about quality, ambience, community and value for money in the products they consume and their experience. We freshly bake artisanal bread and pastries, we brew real Kenyan coffee, craft signature cocktails and lead the way in modern casual dining in Kenya.
Artcaffé, Westgate Mall, Mwanzi Rd, Nairobi, Kenya,
+254 725 20202, or
Artcaffé, Dagoretti Road, The Hub Shopping Mall, Karen, Nairobi, Kenya
+254 790 124892

Urban Grind Coffee & Grill
Advertised on Tripadvisor:
At Urban Grind, we pride ourselves on offering our guests:• A delicious assortment of specialty drinks, a good food selection as well as the finest coffees, including cappuccino, café au lait, latte, and mocha.
Apparently a bit off the beaten track, but worth the journey.
Urban Grind, Highway Mall Along Uhuru Highway, Nairobi, Kenya
+254 70 895 4515

Pete’s Cafe and Burrito Haven
From its website:
We are known as a coffee company before anything else. We go out of our way to source for quality coffees all over the region as each country’s coffee is unique in its own way. Our choice of a Mexican Cuisine is because we believe in great tasting, healthy and flavorful meals.
The owner of Pete’s is a former barista champion of Kenya. Seating is on a leafy outdoor patio filled with umbrellas.
Pete’s Cafe and Burrito Haven, Bishop Magua Centre, Ngong Rd, Nairobi, Kenya
+254 20 2177453

Gibsons Coffee House
This coffee house grows its own coffee.
From its website:
Our uncompromised quality of food and high level of service, attracts customers and ensures they leave with a memorable experience.
Gibsons Coffee House, Banda St., Nairobi, Kenya,
+254 728 981656

Kaldis Coffee House
Locals especially appreciate Kaldis’ breakfasts, milkshakes and coffee.
Kaldis Coffee House, Kimathi St., Nairobi, Kenya,
+254 725 00 0784

Connect Coffee
Connect Coffee is a small cafe that follows the coffee-making process from bean to brew.
From its website:
We roast coffee every day onsite and ONLY serve coffee prepared between 2-14 days. We provide a variety of extraction methods based on the coffee bean characteristic to meet customers preference and choice. From each sale of a cup of coffee we donate 5% to improve coffee farmers welfare.
Connect Coffee, The Riverfront, Nairobi, Kenya
+254 708 790480

Pointzero Coffee
From Google Guide:
Located right next to Nairobi Gallery, this is one of the most sensible meeting spots in Nairobi. It’s central but not in the bustle of the city, it’s rooted but yet seems mobile seeing as the kitchen is based on a food truck, it’s shielded from the elements yet open enough for you to feel you’re outdoors. They have a great drinks and menu, numerous choices of coffee and a very powerful Dawa for a chilly Nairobi day. It’s a place to go again and again.
Pointzero Coffee, Posta Rd / Next to Nyayo House, PO Box 5449, Nairobi, Kenya
+254 707 789376

As noted earlier, “kahawa” means “coffee” in Swahili. But, honestly, doesn’t it seem like “java” ought to be the Swahili translation?

88. Tusker – My Beer, My Country

Tusker Lager, which has a sound international market,
is the highest selling beer in East Africa.

For Kenya, Tusker is more than just a beer; it is a symbol of national pride.

What makes it stand out from the rest is the fact that its brewing ingredients are 100% Kenyan.

Tusker is truly home-made. The barley is grown in Kenya’s Rift Valley region. The spring water is from the Aberdare Mountains. The yeast is local as well.

Source: East African Arig-News

Kenya Breweries Ltd was founded by Charles and George Hurst in 1922. Originally, the beer was produced in small copper vessels heated by firewood. Bottling was done by hand.

The first 10 cases of beer were delivered by an ox-drawn cart to Nairobi’s Stanley Hotel (currently called the Sarova Stanley) in 1923. That same year, George was killed by an elephant in a hunting accident. In a slightly twisted tribute to his brother, Charles named the first beer brewed “Tusker”.

The company’s early slogan was
“Baada ya Kazi burudika
na Tusker”
(After work, relax with a bottle of Tusker).  

Today’s more commonly used slogan is
Bia yangu, Nchi yangu” which means
“My beer, My country.”

At present, the brand commands over 30% of the country’s total beer market.

You many want to asked to have it served  baridi—cold.
If you don’t ask, it will arrive warm.

87. What’s a Dawa?

Dawa, the de facto national drink of Kenya, is a mixture of honey, lime, sugar, ice, and vodka. It’s popularity is such that virtualy every restaurant and bar in Kenya has it on the menu.

The star ingredient is honey, which is fitting for a country with a long history of traditional beekeeping.

The Dawa cocktail was first mixed together and served at The Carnivore in Nairobi, back in 1980 when the restaurant first opened its doors.

Dr. Dawa travels from table to table wearing a 1920s cigarette girl-inspired tray carrying the libation’s necessities while wearing a feathered hat similar to those worn by African witch doctors.

Dawa means “medicine” in Swahili, but Samson Kivelenge (a.k.a. “Dr. Dawa”), who is credited with naming the cocktail, does not claim it possesses healing properties.

Still, a Dawa does seem to act as an effective rejuvenating tonic in Kenya’s hot weather.

Dawa comes with its own accessory, a chunky wooden (or plastic) Dawa stick.

Basically, the Dawa stick is a honey-coated swizzle stick that is occasionally carved at the head, or decorated with famous beadwork of the country’s Maasai people. It comes wrapped in honey.
You use it to stir your drink and the honey dissolves with the rest of the ingredients.

These days the Dawa is sipped at sunset across East Africa in a time-honored happy-hour tradition.

The best way to end a safari day is with a beautiful sunset and drink – an activity that’s known as a sundowner.
Make mine a honey drink.


2 teaspoons white sugar or 1 tablespoon brown sugar

2 fluid ounces vodka
(1 or 2 shots)

crushed ice cube

1 whole lime, quarter with skin on

3/4 cup lime juice

1 Dawa stick*, twisted in creamed honey or 2 tablespoons of honey

 *You can replace the Dawa stick with a popsicle stick or spoon.

Put lime and sugar into a whiskey tumbler.
Crush lime slices slightly, add ice and pour in the vodka.
Add the lime juice.

Twist a Dawa stick into some honey and add the stick to the drink. Use the stick to stir the drink.

The more you crush the limes into the mixture and stir with the honey stick, the sweeter your Dawa will taste.

Source: Food.com

86. Maasai Watchband

Apple Watchband Fanatics switch their watchbands when given even the slightest excuse to do so.
An African safari certainly seems justification enough to make the old switch-aroo.

When I spotted this beaded band on Etsy,
I knew it would be a great accessory for my trip.

It arrived a couple of weeks ago, and as much as I like it, I find the wide leather backing and all those beads get mighty weighty by the end of the day.
Fun? Yes. Practical in the African heat? I think not.
It will be nice as an accent piece, worn now and then to complement the day’s outfit, but it won’t be joining me on the flight to Nairobi.*

Still, there’s reason to take heart.

I’ve found 3 silicone replacements.

*I’m old. Old people lean toward elastic waistbands and sensible shoes, as well as light-weight watchbands.

purchased in preparation for the Kenya/Uganda trip
(some I may use again, some probably not)

utility work gloves
nylon gaiters
Money Belt
Humangear GoTubbs
hiking boots
water shoes
wide brimmed hat
knit beanie with light
African-patterned watchbands

85. Coronavirus Kills Demand for Kenya’s Flowers

Kenya is the third largest exporter of cut flowers in the world.

Source: Bloomberg.com, Workers measure roses at a production company in Naivasha, Kenya. Photographer: Andrew Renneisen

Famed for being long-lasting, Kenya’s roses, carnations and summer flowers are popular in the UK, Russia and the U.S.
The country’s flower power is attributed to its sunny climate, which enables high-quality blossoms to be grown year-round without the need for expensive-to-run greenhouses.

Kenya also has excellent transport links to Europe through Nairobi’s airport, which has a terminal dedicated specifically to the transport of flowers and vegetables. This means that delicate floral cargo can be shifted from growers to consumers swiftly.

In March, with plans to increase their share of the U.S. market, several growers showcased their blooms at the World Floral Expo in the U.S.

Just days later, the coronavirus pandemic hit.

Farmers in Kenya are now having to leave their roses to rot.
Flower farms in Kenya are dumping about 50 tons of flowers daily.

Farms are exporting only 20% of the cut flowers that they would normally send daily to markets including the U.K., the Netherlands and Germany. The rest are being destroyed.
The industry is being forced to cut wages and trim its workforce of more than 150,000 people.

C18 – Coronavirus Kills Demand for Kenya’s Flowers

Kenya is the third largest exporter of cut flowers in the world.
Famed for being long-lasting, Kenya’s roses, carnations and summer flowers are popular in the UK, Russia and the U.S.

Source: Bloomberg.com, Workers measure roses at a production company in Kenya. Photographer: Andrew Renneisen

The coronavirus has cut the demand for flowers all over Europe and the United States. Kenya’s flower industry is being forced to cut wages and trim its workforce of more than 150,000 people.

Farmers in Kenya are now having to leave their roses to rot.
Bloomberg reports that flower farms in Kenya are dumping about 50 tons of flowers daily.

Farms are exporting only 20% of the 60 tons of cut flowers that they would normally send daily to markets including the U.K., the Netherlands and Germany. The rest are being destroyed.

84. Bee-eaters

Bee-eaters *

You’re probably wondering what they eat. . . . . . . . OK, maybe not.

There are about 20 species of brightly-colored bee-eaters in Africa.

Cinnamon-Chested Bee-eaters have bright green heads, upper parts, and tails. Their chins are outlined in black. Their diet consists mainly of honeybees.
Little Bee-eaters have green upper parts, yellow throats and brown upper breasts fading to ocre on the belly. Their beaks are black. They’re the smallest of the African bee-eaters.
White-Fronted Bee-eaters have white foreheads, square taisl and a red patch on their throats. They nest in small colonies, digging holes in cliffs or earthen banks.

The Northern Carmine Bee-eater has bright red feathers and gathers in large colonies of hundreds or thousands of individuals. It makes quite a dazzling spectacle. In quite a few of their regional homes in Africa where the birds are known to nest in large numbers year after year, they are a major tourist attraction.

Besides eating bees, bee-eaters chow down on lots of different insects, especially wasps and hornets. Before eating their meal, a bee-eater removes the stinger by repeatedly hitting the insect on a hard surface.
Bee-eaters don’t just fly around catching insects willy-nilly. They target a particular insect, follow the movements it makes, and hunt it down by following its twists and turns. Despite its slight appearance, its bill is quite strong and chomps down on prey insects’ hard shells with a loud snap.

Source: National Geographic Wild

Bee Eaters are a competitive bunch. To find and woo a mate, they need balance and skill.

* Why feature bee-eaters?

As it turns out, there is a tiny connection to this week’s Zebra Theme.
Bee-eaters have a habit of using large, moving animals as temporary perches. This can be any number of local animals, such as storks, ostriches, warthogs, giraffes, and (?) . . . . . . . . you guessed it, zebras.
When they do this, not only does it provide them with an elevated lookout, but as other animals pass by, they stir up insects for the birds to go after as they move along.

83. From Birdlife International

The following is part of a Birdlife International Newsletter dated April 9, 2020, 7:05 am

A Look Back at BirdLife Africa’s
World Wildlife Day Celebrations 2020

The Crane Festival in Kabale Town, complete with a parade and full-on marching band

On 3 March every year, people across the world gather to raise awareness of the world’s wild flora and fauna. From films and exhibitions to nature walks and face paining, Birdlife International looked back at the diverse ways its various partnerships marked the day across Africa.
Special mention was made of the activities in Zambia, the island nation of Mauritius, Nigeria and Uganda (our last stop before returning home).

Nature Uganda, in conjunction with conservation groups and local governments celebrated World Wildlife Day with special focus on the Grey-crowned Crane. The Grey-crowned Crane is Uganda’s national bird. It is facing extinction.

The celebrations included
a Conservation Conference in the Kampala,
a Crane Festival in Kabale Town,
primary school competitions
and the launch of the National Species Action Plan for the Conservation of the Grey-crowned Crane.

82. Why the Stripes?

Stripes are clearly one of the zebra’s most innovative adaptations. Every pattern is unique.
Climate may have something to do with the patterns. Zoologist have found that zebras living in the cooler climates of southern Africa have stripes that are broader and farther apart than zebras living near the equator.

But why do they have stripes in the first place?
Zebra stripes are one of evolution’s great mysteries.

Over the years, scientists have suggested zebras developed stripes for camouflage in order to confuse their predators. They’ve also suggested that the stripes help lower body temperature, while some believe the striped coat evolved to repel insects.

The Bug Repellent Theory

There is some evidence to support the insect repellent theory. Using sticky plastic models with surfaces painted differently, researchers showed that zebra stripes painted onto the body can protect against biting insects. Relative to the striped mannequin, the dark brown mannequin attracted 10 times more horseflies, while the beige one lured in twice the number as the striped figure. 

Source: Mannequins with body paint, Gabor Horvath,

Researchers concluded that the stripes likely make the skin less attractive to bloodsucking horseflies. This leads scientists to support the idea that zebras developed stripes to help them avoid death by disease.

The Temperature Control Theory

A study published in June 2019 reported that biologists measured the temperatures of black and white hair stripes on zebras in Kenya. The researchers found a 12- to 15-degree-Celsius difference in temperature between the two different coat colors.

Source: Facts in Motion, Why Do Zebras Have Stripes? YouTube

In theory, the currents of air that flow over the zebra’s body are faster over the black parts and slower over the white. At the junction of these two air flows, the different speeds may create little air swirls that cool the zebra.

Raised black stripe hair on a zebra

Moreover, zebras can actually raise the black stripes separately from the white stripes. Perhaps this is their way of regulating their temperatures by adding more turbulence to the airflow over their coats.

80. Blondes and Polka Dots


Last year, an extremely rare zebra with partial albinism was spotted in Serengeti National Park. Partial albinism means that the animal has significantly less melanin than typical zebras. As a result, stripes appear pale in color.

A few dozen partial albino zebras live on a private reserve in Mount Kenya National Park, but this sighting confirmed that at least one “golden” zebra also lives in the wild.
Zebras with this condition may be more widely distributed in and around Kenya than was previously believed.

Just One of the Gang

Polka Dots!

Early last fall, a newborn zebra foal with bizarre polka-dot markings was photographed in Kenya’s Maasai Mara National Reserve.

The rare black zebra foal was first spotted in early September 2019 by Antony Tira, a Maasai tour guide and wildlife photographer.
At first, Tira thought it was a zebra that had been captured and painted for purposes of migration research.

After carefully studying the foal, he realized he was looking at a newborn zebra with a pigment disorder.

The zebra foal has been given the name “Tira.”

The name “Tira” was coined by the Maasai guide who first found him. There is a general rule within the park; whoever finds an animal of significance gets to name it.
No need to wonder why Mr. Tira chose that particular name.

C15 – Coronavirus Health Alert #10 and #11

Health Alert – U.S. Embassy Kampala (April 6, 2020)

Location:  Uganda

Event:  There are 52 confirmed cases of COVID-19 reported in Uganda according to the Ministry of Health. 

Since the closure of Entebbe International Airport on March 23, the U.S. Embassy has worked with the Government of Uganda to allow for two special commercial flights through Qatar Airways to assist U.S. citizens wanting to depart Uganda.   

Health Alert – U.S. Embassy, Nairobi (April 5, 2020)

Location:  Kenya 

Event: As of April 6, 2020 there are 158 confirmed cases COVID-19 throughout Kenya.  Movement is restricted in and out of Nairobi Metropolitan Area starting 7pm tonight, April 6, for 21 days. Similar restrictions will apply to Kilifi, Kwale, and Mombasa counties beginning at 7 pm on Wednesday, April 8. Restrictions will be supervised by Kenyan police. Movement within these areas outside curfew hours is allowed if people follow directives to wear masks and practice social distance.

79. Z is for Zebra

Kenya has two kinds:
Grevy’s and Plains

Zebras are native to Africa. They are social animals and live in herds. Zebras can be found in a variety of habitats, such as grasslands, savannas, woodlands, mountains and coastal hills.

Their black and white stripes make them a safari goer’s favorite. No two stripe patterns are alike.

Zebras can rotate their ears 180 degrees, and can turn them separately so that one ear faces front, while the other listens for sounds back of them.
They have excellent eye sight, a dangerously strong kick and can run up to 35 miles per hour.

Zebras are very closely related to horses and donkeys. Although they’ve been ridden, they are small, with rather weak backs and cannot support very much weight. They’re much wilder and more aggressive than horses or donkeys, which makes domestication difficult.

Zebra’s are herbivores and can survive for a week without water. Peak birth periods for the Grevy’s are usually July through August, so I should be seeing a few babies when we go on a game drive.

Of the three species of zebra (Plains, Mountain and Grevy’s), both the Plains and Grevy’s reside in Kenya.

The Grevy’s Zebra

Grevy’s Zebras are the largest of the three zebra species. They have short manes and thin stripes that do not go all the way around their stomachs.

Grevy’s Zebras have large, round Mickey Mouse-like ears.

In the late 1800s, Kenya was home to between 20,000 and 30,000 Grevy’s Zebras. In the early 1980s, there were 15,000. Loss of habitat has dwindled their population to less than 2,500, making them one of the most endangered of wild animals.

Ninety percent of Grevy’s are found in Kenya.
They are hunted for their striking skins.

Source: mbzFund, Grevy’s Zebra Conservation in Kenya, YouTube (Time: 5:39)

The Plains Zebra

The Plains Zebra is the commonest of Africa’s three species and the one familiar to most safari goers.

Plains Zebra

The Plains Zebra has a striped belly. The stripes on its neck continue onto its mane, which has stiff, erect hairs.

Zebras nibble each other’s mane and neck to reinforce social bonds during mutual grooming.

They live in small family groups consisting of a male (stallion), several females, and their young. These units may combine with others to form awe-inspiring herds thousands of head strong, but family members will remain close within the herd

Source: Young Zebra’s Dangerous River Crossing | Life Story | BBC Earth (Time: 5:40)

78. Are the Poachers Winning?

NAIROBI, Kenya — A white female giraffe and her 7-month-old calf, whose rare pigmentation mesmerized wildlife enthusiasts around the world, were discovered to have been killed by poachers in Kenya on March 11 of this year. Conservationists estimated from the state of the carcasses that the animals had been killed four months ago.
This tragedy illustrates the challenges of conservation and the persistent and devastating impact of poaching.

Twiga Nyeupe
White Giraffe

Source: The Guardian

With the deaths of the mother and her baby, only one white giraffe is left roaming freely in Kenya’s wild.
Mohammed Ahmednoor, conservancy manager in northeastern Kenya, said “We are the only community in the world who are custodians of the white giraffe.” He added, “This is a very sad day for the community … and Kenya as a whole.”

The killing of the white giraffes highlighted the threats facing these animals. They were most likely killed for their meat and hide.

These imposing creatures look like giraffe ghosts!

77. Head Coverings

I purchased this hat at a local marketplace about a year ago, right after I first started making plans to visit Africa. The hat can be smashed into a suitcase, and when retrieved, springs back to life again, as good as new.

It provides protection from the hot equatorial sun. The chin strap will keep it from blowing away if the breezes get too strong during an open air safari ride.

Basically, it’s a gardener’s sun hat. I’ve name it Kivuli.

Kenya and Uganda might straddle the equator, but it can get very chilly indeed. I’ve been told the nights can cool down, even if the temperatures are high during the day. I ordered this knit beanie to protect against the lower temperatures while I sleep. The beanie has a rechargeable LED light. No stumbling over things if I should need to get up in the middle of the night.

And finally, there’s this thing – called a BUFF®.

It’s a seamless, light-weight (1.2 ounces), ultra stretchable tube, recommended by The Skin Cancer Foundation. Buffs contain 100% recycled microfibers which are made from two plastic water bottles that have been removed from oceans and landfills.

It can be worn as a neck wrap or a skull cap to keep in the warmth, a face mask to keep out the dust or a headband to manage a bad hair day.

It will be interesting to see if I ever really use it.

purchased in preparation for the Kenya/Uganda trip
(some I may use again, some probably not)

utility work gloves
nylon gaiters
Money Belt
Humangear GoTubbs
hiking boots
water shoes
wide brimmed hat
knit beanie with light

76. From Change.org

The following is part of a Change.org email dated April 3, 2020, 12:30 pm

Petition Update

Travel Restrictions Delay
Elephant Hunt in Botswana

With this worldwide pause, a travel ban has been implemented which will restrict hunters from North America to fly to Botswana.  Thus, it is possible that the majority of the hunting permits will go unused.

Siobhan Mitchell, UK Director of Campaign to Ban Trophy Hunting, reported; “We welcome the fact that foreign trophy hunters cannot kill elephants in Botswana, and hope that the government takes the time to reflect on and rethink its deadly strategy towards elephants and shake off this colonial pastime altogether.”

75. Cattle Egret

“As our city streets quiet, as people hang back from parks and paths,
and the busy noise of daily life recedes,
listen for the birds.”
David Arnold, President of the Nat’l Audubon Society

Cattle Egret *

The cattle egret has a relatively short, thick neck, a sturdy bill, and a hunched posture. It spends most of its time in fields rather than streams.
The cattle egret’s breeding plumage highlights its beautiful peach feathers, and it often appears to be wearing spiked topknots. Its legs and feet even change from black to a dramatic orange.

Cattle egrets feed on a wide range of prey, particularly insects, especially grasshoppers, crickets, flies (adults and maggots), and moths, as well as spiders, frogs, lizards and earthworms.
They forage at the feet of grazing cattle, heads bobbing with each step, or ride on their backs to pick at ticks.

Sonyanga Ole Ngais, a Maasai Warrior Saves a Cattle Egret

* Why feature the Cattle Egret?

This is the last day of what has turned out to be Elephant Week, and elephants have a special relationship with the cattle egret.
The cattle egret, while relieving the elephant of parasites, receives a free meal and a free ride as the elephant walks along. But the egret enjoys this same kind of relationship with a number of different mammals.
Elephants, on the other hand, aren’t involved in any other symbiotic relationships except that of the cattle egret. For the elephant, it’s the cattle egret only.

74. One Email, One Newsletter

The following is a Sheldrick Wildlife Trust email dated April 2, 2020, 8:59 am

Dear Supporter,

I am thrilled to share with you a new film, released today, which takes you into the heart of our extensive wildlife conservation projects in Kenya.

As a foster parent, you perhaps know us best for our Orphans’ Project, which has over many decades seen us rescue and raise more than 262 orphaned elephants, as well as rhinos, antelopes, giraffes and a plethora of other species. As our orphans gravitate towards a life in the wild once more, keeping them and Kenya’s wild herds safe is of equal importance, ensuring a viable long term future for all.

We are proud to be able to showcase in this film the many indispensable aspects of the SWT’s work, each so important to the whole.

SWT 2020: Saving Wild Lives – Securing Wild Spaces

During these unprecedented times for us all, I hope you feel as inspired as we do seeing what we can achieve together. We humans are facing one of our greatest global challenges ever, however, the wild world has been facing challenges created by us for thousands of years and the threats they face are as real today as they were a few months ago.

Despite all that is unfolding, our teams are out there in the field right now, walking with the orphans, flying our planes, patrolling to prevent illegal activity, and seeking out and treating injured animals. You help make all this happen and I would like to extend our heartfelt thanks to you all. Your steadfast support is hugely appreciated.

Stay safe, with gratitude,
Angela Sheldrick

Copyright © 2020 David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust, All rights reserved.
Official emails from the Sheldrick Wildlife Trust

Our mailing address is:
David Sheldrick Wildlife TrustPO Box 15555MbagathiNairobi 00503Kenya

The following was taken from a National Geographic email dated April 2, 2020, 11:56 am

National Geographic Picture of the Day

You’re upside down.
No, you’re upside down.
No, you’re upside down.
No . . .

After two days of trekking in Rwanda’s Volcanoes National Park, photographer Cristina Mittermeier caught this resting gorilla peeking at her as he laid on the forest floor.

73. Gardeners of Eden

Rent on Apple TV

Gardeners of Eden is about the operations of Kenya’s David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust , the vision of its founder Dame Daphne Sheldrick and the dedication of the keepers who raise the orphaned babies. The film covers some of the successes and the tragic losses that occur while trying to save these fragile babies. (Yes, it’s hard to imagine “fragile” as being a descriptive word for an elephant.)

Gardeners of Eden exposes the slaughter of elephants for the valuable ivory they can provide and the reluctance of countries to stop trading in ivory trinkets.
There is a plea at the end of the film that goes something like this:
“We will either be a witness or the solution to the unfolding of an ecological disaster. What will we say to our grandchildren when they ask us why there are no elephants remaining in the wild? Will they be proud of us when we say it was more important for us to own beautiful things than for beautiful things to roam in spectacular places?”

There is no storybook ending here. These magnificent animals are in serious trouble.

Daphne Sheldrick passed away April 2018.
Linger long enough to listen to the closing song during the credits.

Source: Terre de Licorne, Daphne Sheldrick and the Baby Elephant orphanage – Part 2, YouTube (Time: 18:24)

71. Welcome to Botswana

The following was taken from a Change.org email dated March 25, 2020

– Welcome to Botswana –
Where Rich People Can Kill Elephants

Image Source: Change.org

Kenya has banned the practice of trophy hunting.
Botswana had formally joined in the ban, but has now chosen to reinstate elephant hunting.
Foreign hunters will be allowed to kill 202 of its elephants.

Most of the foreign hunters who go to Africa are from the United States.
The average cost for foreign trophy hunters to purchase hunting rights, travel, hire a professional to accompany them and pay for taxidermy is approximately $71,000.

Elephants help support the health of our planet. They spread the seeds from the plants they have eaten, dispersing plant life to other areas. They dig water holes in dry river beds that other animals use as a water source as well as creating trails that serve as fire breakers. Elephants help the local economies through eco-tourism.  Eco-tourism is a $2 billion-dollar industry, while reintroducing hunting contributes to only 1.9% of tourism.   

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has held Crush Ivory Days in various sites over the years.

In Colorado, U.S. officials destroyed more than 6 tons of confiscated ivory tusks, carvings and jewelry — the bulk of the U.S. “blood ivory” stockpile — and urged other nations to follow suit to fight a $10 billion global trade that slaughters tens of thousands of elephants each year.

There are two bills that have been introduced in U.S. Congress (the CECIL and Protect Acts) that will ban trophy hunting imports from crossing American borders. The fate of these bills is unknown at the time of this posting.

Change.org is asking everyone to consider contacting his/her representative in support of these bills.

70. NEVER FORGET these Elephant Facts*

*facts and images collected from all over the internet

The African Elephant

1. It’s true that elephants never forget (sort of).

Elephants can remember the locations of water holes hundreds of miles apart, and return to them every year. Their brains are very advanced, like humans, dolphins and chimpanzees.

2. African elephants are the largest land mammals on the planet.
One of the largest known elephants was Jumbo, whose name is thought to be derived from the Swahili word for “boss” or “chief.”
He is the reason we now use the word “jumbo” to mean “huge.”

Jumbo and his trainer, Matthew Scott

3. Elephants commonly show humor, compassion, cooperation, self-awareness, tool use, playfulness, sharp learning abilities and frustration. 

According to the Sheldrick Wildlife Trust, temper tantrums are common among baby elephants, who are known to throw fits by throwing themselves down into mud when upset.

4. Elephants demonstrate concern for members of their families and take care of weak or injured members of the herd.

They greet each other by hugging with their trunks.

Source: Herd Of Elephants Saves Another Family’s Baby, The Dodo, YouTube (Time: 3:05)

5. No matter what you’ve heard, elephants don’t care much for peanuts.

6. Elephant herds are matriarchal. The oldest female elephant will decide where and when the herd moves and rests, day to day and season to season. She will only leave the group if she dies or is captured. Males leave the herd around the age of 12.

7. Elephants can have babies until the age of 50. The gestation period for elephants is 22 months. Female elephants have been known to induce labour by self-medicating with certain plants.

8. Baby elephants are initially blind and some take to sucking their trunk for comfort in the same way that humans suck their thumbs.

9. Elephants can recognize themselves in a mirror, joining only humans, apes and dolphins as animals that possess this kind of self-awareness.

10. Elephants are very good swimmers. 
They move all four legs to swim and use their trunk to breathe like a snorkel in deep water.

11. As important an appendage as an elephant’s trunk is, it has no bones!

Its trunk, capable of lifting 700 pounds or plucking a single blade of grass, contains over 40,000 muscles, divided into 150,000 individual muscle units.

12. Elephants are herbivores and can spend up to 16-hour days collecting and eating tough, fibrous foods, most of which pass through their bodies undigested. All that undigested fiber can produce as much as 300 pounds of poop each day!
Some of the poop can be harvested to help produce sellable products.

13. Elephants are one of a few (possibly the only) animals who can understand human pointing, without any training.

14. The total global elephant population is currently estimated at 650,000, and they are very much in danger of extinction. The main risk to elephants is from humans through poaching and changes to their habitat.

Poachers in Kenya have enjoyed lenient sentences and few have been successfully prosecuted.
The global ivory trade was worth an estimated $1 billion over the past decade, with 80% of ivory from illegally killed elephants.
The street value of elephant ivory is now greater than gold, running to tens of thousands of dollars per tusk.