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.


DAWA RECIPE

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.

RUNNING LIST OF ITEMS
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
AfriSocks
wide brimmed hat
knit beanie with light
BUFF
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
ALISON COBB



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


Blondie

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.

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.

A LIST OF ITEMS
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
AfriSocks
wide brimmed hat
knit beanie with light
BUFF

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.

69. Tusker Tim

“The world is mourning an icon.”
allAfrica.com


Tim, one of the last surviving super tusters, died in Amboseli National Park early last month.
According to the Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS), he died of natural causes.
There was evidence that his wild animal friends had tried hard to resurrect him.

Famous for his rare majestic tusks, Tim was a very popular sighting for tourists who visited Amboseli National Park. He was considered an ambassador for his species.

Source: Lifegate.com, Tim in a mud-pit in 2018.


The David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust, which helped save Tim from a swamp in 2018, sent out a statement saying, “Kenya lost a giant today. Our hearts are heavy as we remember a magnificent elephant who we grew to know and love.”

“Our hearts are broken,” said Wildlife Direct, a Nairobi-based conservation campaign group. “Tim was one of Africa’s very few Super Tuskers, and an incredible elephant whose presence awed and inspired many. He was one of Kenya’s National Treasures.”

Kimana Gate, Amboseli National Park


Tim was 50 years old. He called the Amboseli ecosystem (which spreads across the Kenya-Tanzania border) his home.
His body was found not far from the Kimana Gate.

Elephant tusks never stop growing, so enormous tusks are usually a sign of an old elephant. Both male and female African elephants grow tusks.
African elephants are referred to as “tuskers” when their tusks grow so long that they reach the ground. Due to poaching, conservationists estimate only a few dozen such animals with tusks that size are now left on the continent.

Tim’s tusks were said to weigh more than 100 lbs each.


Tim’s body was moved to a taxidermist in Nairobi so that it can be preserved for display in the national museum for exhibition and education purposes.

Source: Wild Eye, YouTube (Time: 2:57)

68. There’s a New Addition to Nairobi’s Elephant Nursery

On the 2nd of January, the Sheldrick Wildlife Trust rescued a calf from the Masai Mara. The little female baby was about six months old. They named her Naleku.

After the trauma of losing her mother, followed by the noise and handling necessary for the rescue, Naleku was very restless, and paced her room all night.


The following day she sensed the presence of the other elephants in the Nursery and constantly cried out while pacing in her stable.

 

Although still weak and a resident for only a single day, the decision was made to let her out with the other orphans.


Naleku was greeted with reassuring trunk cuddles and showered with love and affection.
It’s amazing when one considers that the older elephants giving comfort and emotional support are only babies themselves, yet instinctively they know to offer a tender trunk hug.



I adopted Maktao in order to get a closer look at SWT’s elephant babies, in a less crowded setting.
I adopted Naleku because I couldn’t resist.


The David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust

Source: David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust, YouTube (Time: 3:38)

67. The Doves of Africa

Doves *

Aside from the Sahara and Antarctica, doves are found all over the world. Kenya has more than a dozen species of doves.
Doves have stout bodies, short necks and short, slender bills. Their colors are mostly dull in nature.

Doves feed on seeds, fruits, and plants.

Pigeons and doves are in the same family and are sometimes referred to interchangeably. As a rule, doves have longer tails than pigeons. “Dove” tends to be used for smaller species and “pigeon” for larger ones.

Both doves and pigeons are incredibly swift flyers.
Most doves are thought to mate for life.

* Why feature doves?

It’s a bit of a circuitous route.
Trees Week > W. Maathai, mother of trees > W. Maathai, Nobel Peace Prize laureate > Nobel Peace Prize > peace > peace symbols > doves

The dove is often associated with peace* – and peace is a natural extension of the successful tree planting programs promoted by Wangari Maathai in the fields of Kenya.

“Trees are living symbols of peace and hope.”
Wangari Maathai, Nobel Peace laureate

Update, April 14, 2020: I have subsequently learned that doves are not associated with peace in African folklore. Apparently, the lilac-breasted roller is thought to bring peace and happiness. Well, darn.

* Update, April 14, 2020: I have subsequently learned that doves are not associated with peace in African folklore. Apparently, the lilac-breasted roller is thought to bring peace and happiness.
Well, darn.

66. Jane Goodall Is Self-Isolating, Too

The following is taken from The New York Times, March 25, 2020

This is part of an edited phone conversation.
The journalist’s questions appear in bold text.

Source: New York Times

Jane Goodall is in isolation these days along with everyone else, since a fund-raising tour was canceled because of the coronavirus pandemic. She is staying at her family home in England, not in Tanzania, her primary home when not on the road.

Dr. Goodall changed the way the world views chimpanzees with research that began when she first went to Africa 60 years ago this July.

She later became a tireless advocate for chimps in captivity. When she began her work, chimps were routinely used in medical research, a practice Dr. Goodall helped stop in the U.S.

So this pause has let you step back a bit?
It’s catching up, you know. But there are some things that are so unbelievably worrying. In the U.S. you have people who can apply for unemployment or something. But what about in Tanzania, for example? The people running the bars, the restaurants, selling food at the side of the road — all banned now. And they make just enough to keep alive for a week and pay the rent and there’s no social security, nothing for them.

Being isolated has made me think of what it must be like for chimpanzees who were isolated in captivity, who depend on physical closeness and touch.
I think about it all the time. I’ve thought about it ever since I saw secretly filmed footage of these social beings in medical research labs in 5-foot by 5-foot cages. The first time I went into one of those labs. It was horrendous. And solitary confinement. As you say, it’s bad enough for us, but we have all these other ways of distracting. And what about these animals who have nothing?
But you know the other thing is, it has reactivated the discussion about animal trafficking – selling wild animals for food or for medicine. Everybody’s pointing fingers at China, but already the government’s made a total ban on the markets, selling animals for food and on trafficking – importing wild animals. So we just have to hope that because of the magnitude of this pandemic they will keep that ban. At the moment it’s temporary, but let’s hope they enforce it forever.

Animals, although not chimps, will be used in testing treatments and vaccines for Covid-19. What is your stance on animal experimentation?

My stance is that ultimately there will be a time with no animal experimentation. What pleased me about the chimp situation is that I was in it from the ethical point of view, but the fact that the chimps were put in sanctuaries because the research was not useful was a far better outcome than if it had been done on ethical grounds. It’s like fossil fuel. People say we want to stop using fossil fuel now. Well that’s clearly impossible. You can’t just suddenly stop something. And this medical research on animals won’t suddenly stop, although I wish it would. The trouble is that people working on alternatives just don’t get the right support.

One of Project Chimps’ indoor-outdoor enclosures, used as a temporary home to former laboratory chimps until other facilities were renovated.
Source: New York Times

C14 – Jane Goodall Is Self-Isolating, Too

The following is taken from The New York Times, March 25, 2020

Goodall is in England, in the house she grew up in, and she has a few thoughts about chimpanzees, the coronavirus pandemic and the loo paper shortage.
This is part of an edited phone conversation. The journalist’s questions appear in bold text.

Source: New York Times

Jane Goodall is in isolation these days along with everyone else, since a fund-raising tour was canceled because of the coronavirus pandemic. She is staying at her family home in England, not in Tanzania, her primary home when not on the road.

Dr. Goodall changed the way the world views chimpanzees with research that began when she first went to Africa 60 years ago this July, a young woman without a college degree, to observe chimpanzees in the wild at what is now the Gombe Stream Research Centre in Tanzania.

She later became a tireless advocate for chimps in captivity. When she began her work, chimps were routinely used in medical research, a practice Dr. Goodall and other advocates helped stop in the U.S.

So this pause has let you step back a bit?
It’s catching up, you know. But there are some things that are so unbelievably worrying. In the U.S. you have people who can apply for unemployment or something. But what about in Tanzania, for example? The people running the bars, the restaurants, selling food at the side of the road — all banned now. And they make just enough to keep alive for a week and pay the rent and there’s no social security, nothing for them.

Being isolated has made me think of what it must be like for chimpanzees who were isolated in captivity, who depend on physical closeness and touch.
I think about it all the time. I’ve thought about it ever since I saw secretly filmed footage of these social beings in medical research labs in 5-foot by 5-foot cages. The first time I went into one of those labs. It was horrendous. And solitary confinement. As you say, it’s bad enough for us, but we have all these other ways of distracting. And what about these animals who have nothing?
But you know the other thing is, if you’re trying to look for silver linings in this horrible time. It has reactivated the discussion about animal trafficking, selling wild animals for food or for medicine. Everybody’s pointing fingers at China, but already the government’s made a total ban on the markets, selling animals for food and on trafficking, importing wild animals. So we just have to hope that because of the magnitude of this pandemic they will keep that ban. At the moment it’s temporary, but let’s hope they enforce it forever, and close down the market for animals used in traditional medicine.

Animals, although not chimps, will be used in testing treatments and vaccines for Covid-19. What is your stance on animal experimentation?
My stance is that ultimately there will be a time with no animal experimentation. What pleased me about the chimp situation is that I was in it from the ethical point of view, but the fact that the chimps were put in sanctuaries because the research was not useful was a far better outcome than if it had been done on ethical grounds. It’s like fossil fuel. People say we want to stop using fossil fuel now. Well that’s clearly impossible. You can’t just suddenly stop something. And this medical research on animals won’t suddenly stop, although I wish it would. The trouble is that people working on alternatives just don’t get the right support.

65. Wangari’s Story

“In Unbowed, A Memoir, 2004 Nobel Prize winner Wangari Maathai recounts her extraordinary journey from her childhood in rural Kenya to the world stage.” 
It was, by no means, an easy journey.

Maathai was an inspirational, hard working woman (driven, actually), who set out to correct the effects brought about by prejudice, inequality and ecological destruction in her native Kenya.

Much of the book covers the conflicts resulting from environmental devastation – how it started and why it continued. Maathai recounts her efforts to fight a corrupt government bent on scaring her country, both through ecological destruction and gender discrimination. She was punished for her actions. Yet, despite her many trials in life, she remained unbowed, believing that what she could not overcome, she could at least get past.


More books! Share one or two of these with a short person you know.
The illustrations alone will make it worth your while.


What does the following art project really have to do with anything I’ll be doing or seeing on safari?
Well, it sort of has to do with Kenya stuff. Sort of.

I stumbled upon this Teachers Pay Teachers art project while searching for material on Wangari Maathai and thought it might be of some use to someone during our Time of Social Distancing.
It’s a wonderful project with excellent instructions. The hardest part is gathering all the materials before you begin.

63. The Fig Tree

The Broom Cluster Fig (or Cape Fig) is a fast-growing, evergreen tree. It usually grows from 16 – 39 ft in height, but has been know to grow to a height of 115 ft or more.

Older trees develop a massive spreading crown, fluted trunks, and wide buttress roots which help to keep the shallow-rooted tree from falling over.

The figs are produced from September to March. They appear on short or long drooping spurs which may emerge from surface roots, the trunk or most commonly from lower main branches.


The tree has large leaves with serrated edges.


The fig tree provides medicine, food, shade and shelter for all nature of animals, large and small.

 The wood of the Broom Cluster Fig is soft and white and has been used for making mortars for grinding flour as well as making drums. In modern times this tree is used most extensively as a shade tree.

The fig tree is believed to have magical powers and is used in many rituals by local people.

As a child, Wangari Maathai learned from her grandmother that a large fig tree near her family home in central Kenya was sacred and not to be disturbed. She remembered gathering water at the springs protected by the roots of that tree. She remembered resting in its shade.
After completing her education in the U.S., she returned to Kenya and found the tree had been felled. Reflecting on what that had done to the surrounding area, Maathai went on to become “the woman who planted millions of trees.”

62. Wangari Maathai, Mother of Trees

Wangarĩ Muta Maathai (1940 – 2011) was a renowned Kenyan social, environmental and political activist. She became the first African woman, and the first environmentalist, to win the Nobel Peace Prize. It was awarded for her contribution in the field of sustainable development, democracy and peace.

The Norwegian Nobel Committee wrote, “Peace on earth depends on our ability to secure our living environment. Maathai stands at the front of the fight to promote ecologically viable social, economic and cultural development in Kenya and in Africa. She has taken a holistic approach to sustainable development that embraces democracy, human rights and women’s rights in particular. She thinks globally and acts locally.”

More than most others, Maathai recognized the connection between the health of the land and the health of the people.

In 1977, she founded the Green Belt Movement (GBM) in response to the needs of rural Kenyan women who reported the streams were drying up, food supplies were less secure, and firewood for fuel and fencing was becoming more scarce.

GBM encourages women to work together (while receiving a small monetary token for their work) to grow seedlings and plant trees to bind the soil, store rainwater and provide food and firewood.

Maathai’s work in this area eventually earned her the nickname “Mama Mici” or Mother of Trees.

“If you destroy the forest,” Maathai said, “then the river will stop flowing, the rains will become irregular, the crops will fail and you will die of hunger and starvation …. Planting trees breaks the cycle. When we can give ourselves food, firewood, and help to nurture soil for planting and clean water, then we begin to roll poverty back” 

61. The Meru Oak

Meru Oak

The Meru Oak is endemic to Kenya and rarely found outside its borders.

It is a deciduous tree capable of growing to a height of 100 feet or more.

The leaves are compound, with five leaflets attached to a single stem.

It can be recognized by its very thin, rough, hairy bark, full of vertical groves.

The Meru Oak’s wood is hard and durable. It is commonly used for the production of furniture and decorative veneers. As a consequence of its highly valued timber, it has been severely over-exploited and is becoming very rare.

The Meru Oak is on the IUCN Red List.

60. Keep ’em On My Toes

Gorilla Trekking Boots

Last month, before REI closed its retail stores due to the Coronavirus, I visited its shoe department and tried on a number of hiking boots. It took 8 different brands before I found a comfortable boot, but the cost stopped me from taking a pair home.

This month, online sales cut the cost in half. Still, it’s a pricey purchase considering I may never use them. (Kenya has closed its borders.) The boots arrived a few days ago. Thinking that I ought to break them in, I’ve been wearing the boots around the house. They’re very comfortable, so the breaking in stage doesn’t really seem necessary.


After a Long Day on the Savanna

Linda and I plan to make use of the swimming pools at a couple of camps while on safari.
I’m not a flip-flop fan, but I’ll be wanting some sort of footwear as I walk from tent to pool and back.
Water shoes seem like a good choice.


They’re soft, light weight, pull on easily and fold into a flat, small bundle. I question whether they’ll last more than a season, but for my purposes, that’s not a worry.

After soaking them in the sink, I hung them to dry in the shower. Next morning they were dry inside and out.


A Safari Necessity

Yes, these are a must. AfriSocks!

RUNNING LIST OF ITEMS
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
AfriSocks

59. Secretary Bird

Secretary Bird *

Adult Secretary Birds have a featherless red-orange face and black coloring on the wings, thighs and elongated central tail feathers. They also have very long eyelashes.
The Secretary Bird gets its name from its crest of long feathers that look like the quill pens office workers tucked behind their ears in the 1800s.

Secretary Birds walk up to 20km a day in search of vipers, cobras and other snakes.
They are good fliers and nest and roost high up in acacia trees at night.

Source: American Scientist

Researchers in Hampshire, England have been studying the kicks of a male bird called Madeleine. They’ve found that when a secretary bird kicks a snake in the head, the killer blow can transfer five times the bird’s own weight in a hundredth of a second.
They say that studying extreme examples of animal movement could help design fast-moving robot limbs or prosthetics.

*Why feature the Secretary Bird?


I was drawn to the bird because it reminds me of how one of my aunts used to apply her make up.

Its kick is pretty impressive too.

Feathers the Bird and Aunt Gertrude

58. Nat’l Geographic Picture of the Day

It was nice to receive something other than a Coronavirus Alert in my inbox this morning.


Why is this rhino hanging upside down?

Source: National Geographic Newsletter, David Chancellor
Subscribe to the newsletter.



David Chancellor found out while photographing a wildlife veterinarian receiving a black rhino from a hovering helicopter in South Africa’s Eastern Cape.

“Rhinos will suffocate if their body weight is supported on their chests, such as in a body harness, and this would also result in undue pressure being placed on their hearts and associated organs,” Chancellor says. “So despite appearances, this is medically preferable—to support them by the legs for short distances.” Obviously, it’s best not to move the rhinos at all, unless their habitat has become unsafe. Sadly, Chancellor says, “to preserve these extraordinary creatures, intervention is often unavoidable.”