October 16th, 2017
Finding lions on safari is always something that gets your heart racing. Not just because they are part of the Big 5, but because of their stature. All those great tales of power, strength and their majestic size. That overpowering feeling that you are so close to a creature that is able to take down something as mammoth as an African or Cape Buffalo can send chills down your spine. I guess they are not referred to as “Kind of the Jungle” – or bushveld for nothing. ____________________________________________________________________________ For our guests, the Big 5 is always a high priority, but to come across young calves and or cubs is always something special. ____________________________________________________________________________ So you can imagine my excitement when I found fresh tracks of a lioness with her two cubs on a recent safari. If you did not know, lion cubs have pretty large feet, which they slowly grow into. So because of this, I could tell that the impressions on the ground alluded to young cubs as well as an adult. ____________________________________________________________________________ After following for a couple of minutes, the tracks took us to a small dam surrounded by reeds and some beautiful Fever trees. Lying in the shade of one of the trees on the edge of the dam we spotted the lioness, peacefully snoozing on this very warm winter’s afternoon. ____________________________________________________________________________ I was wondering where the cubs might be. ____________________________________________________________________________
____________________________________________________________________________ Some movement to the right of us caught my eye and out pounced two very young and energetic lion cubs. They looked to be around three months old and still quite spotted. This is a camouflage method nature has blessed them with, while they are still small and vulnerable to help them survive the perils of the bush. ____________________________________________________________________________ They seemed to be in an incredibly playful mood and gave us a great show. ____________________________________________________________________________ One ran towards her mother whose head popped up for a second as the cub landed playfully on her belly. The mom gave a small growl as the already sharp claws of her cub must have poked her slightly. ____________________________________________________________________________ The cub then raced back towards her sister who was hiding behind a patch of dry grass patiently imitating her mother in the stalking position. Her sister neared her hiding spot.  You could see the other cub’s excitement building up. She eventually couldn’t wait any longer and pounced playfully onto her sibling. ____________________________________________________________________________
____________________________________________________________________________ It was obvious that this was practice for one day when they will need to start hunting for themselves. Each of the young lion cub’s instinctively went for the neck of the other. It truly was great amusement, viewing these playful practice sessions of little hunters in the making. ____________________________________________________________________________ The two eager bundles of furred energy made their way down to the muddy edge of the dam. Just like children. The dirtier,  the better. We could see that perhaps rhinos or some other large herbivore had previously been wallowing in the mud and this was an ideal playground for curious adventurous little lions. ____________________________________________________________________________  
____________________________________________________________________________ The cubs took turns tackling one another in the muddy mess with young growling sounds coming from them getting cuter and cuter as their play progressed. ____________________________________________________________________________ We had been watching this scene for some time and did not notice the sun had already dropped down behind the mountains.  It was nearing the time where other predators would be stretching and yawning, about to begin yet another evening. ____________________________________________________________________________
____________________________________________________________________________ The mother lioness slowly got up and ushered her cubs to a dense section of bushes behind the dam wall. Soon enough all became quite silent and the cub growls died down, possibly signally that they had dozed off after a very fun filled afternoon of playful practice pouncing. ____________________________________________________________________________ ____________________________________________________________________________ Story and photos by: Monika Malewski

October 5th, 2017
6.53 AM, Saturday morning, I’m settling into a strong coffee, the African Safari morning send off completed, the dawn chorus dissipating as the birds head off to feed. Sammy, one of our Serian mess attendants rushes in with news. “there’s a baby elephant trapped in a tree’s roots along the river bank”… ____________________________________________________________________________
The river is the “Mara River” which meanders below Serian’s “Original” in the Mara North Conservancy. We rush down, Wifi  following us, wagging his tail joining our adventure. Sammy shows us where he is: tiny little thing, trapped in the roots of an Elephant Pepper Tree overhanging the river. The baby most likely slipped and fell; exhausted, from what must have been the longest night of his life. Fred jumps in, everything is so fast that I don’t really grasp if he is hugging him or grabbing him. With the help of Sammy and the others the baby is rescued from his confines. Confused he bolts in every direction… Wifi is excited but doesn’t know what to do. We all want to comfort the baby elephant, so small, maybe a meter high, he is less than a month old. Grunting, he chases us around, heartily curious about Wifi. ___________________________________________________________________________ ___________________________________________________________________________ With no plan of action we start with phone calls looking for advice. Meanwhile we start looking for the mother, a stressed Elephant with no calf… A car sets off up river, scouts called into the hills overlooking camp. Fred walks the baby out to the plains. Away from anyone who might add scent to this baby more than we already have – if we find his mother then she might not recognize him. The baby is now clearly hungry and thirsty and he starts climbing on to us with his two front feet in search of something to suckle. We start him off with water – insatiable he doesn’t stop drinking. ___________________________________________________________________________ ___________________________________________________________________________ Having called for advice from the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust and Mark at the Mara Elephant Project we formulate a plan. Option A is to find the baby’s mother. We receive a call that we’ve been waiting for, Jonathan –one of our mechanics from Ngare Serian on the other side of the river has seen a frustrated Elephant coursing around in a frenzy behind camp. This might be her. We set off for Ngare Serian. For those who know our camps you’ll understand this means crossing our 100 meter long swing bridge. Getting him across in a helicopter would be high risk and stressful. ___________________________________________________________________________ ___________________________________________________________________________ A most surreal image as I have ever seen. A tiny baby elephant was following me over the bridge. Wobbly yet trusting us he crossed safely to the other side. ___________________________________________________________________________ The rear of Ngare Serian is thick with bushy euclea. We’re on foot looking for a distressed cow and we have her baby, but we believe it’s the correct thing to do. ___________________________________________________________________________ Our aim is to head to The Nest a commanding view of the locale from our Tree House. The rationale – “if she hears his call we’ll be on higher ground”. At around 4 meters off the ground it is our “crow’s nest”. ___________________________________________________________________________ ___________________________________________________________________________ By now the Kenya Wildlife Service rangers, Marc Goss (CEO of Mara Elephant Project) have arrived. MEP rangers have added to the cars out scouting the far bank. Marc is flying a drone in search of a herd. Time is scooting by; soon we locate two herds. One of them a herd of bulls, the other, 4 mothers accompanied by their 4 young calves. It’s noon and we have to make a decision…. all the attempts have failed to find his mother. DSWT vets arrive; their professional opinion is to fly him to the elephant nursery nestled in the Nairobi National Park. Dame Daphne Sheldrick took nearly three decades to perfect the milk formula and complex husbandry necessary to rear an orphaned infant African elephant. ___________________________________________________________________________ ___________________________________________________________________________ Nicknamed “Pili” after the tree whose roots cradled him in safety by the river, Pili is now nurtured in a healthy environment with other rescued elephant’s. With a 50-50 chance of making it, because of his age, this is the risky time pre teething where he still needs to take to DSWT’s curated milk formula. He is being taken care of by professionals; we hope one day to see him grow in to a handsome big elephant. – By Sofi Sosa Del Valle ___________________________________________________________________________ If you would care to do so; please help by adopting an Elephant online.

September 6th, 2017
Rwanda’s annual gorilla-naming ceremony, called Kwita Izina, takes place on Sept. 1, and the Fossey Fund is excited that a number of gorillas monitored by our field staff will be among those receiving names. The annual ceremony and associated events are organized by the Rwanda Development Board, which oversees management of Volcanoes National Park, home to the mountain gorillas. __________________________________________________________________________ “A gorilla name is more than just a word and each has a special meaning to the trackers from the Fossey Fund and the Rwandan park authorities, who provide suggestions for the names to be given to gorillas,” says Felix Ndagijimana, the Fossey Fund’s director of programs in Rwanda and our Karisoke Research Center. ___________________________________________________________________________ “Whether it’s related to the joy of specific births, the value of gorillas to Rwanda and the world, or recognition of the value of social programs to improve the livelihood of Rwandans, a gorilla name always has an inspirational message,” he says. ___________________________________________________________________________ This year, there are 19 gorillas being named in total. Most of them are infants born in the past year, but some are actually adults who joined the monitored groups during that time, arriving from groups that have not been monitored, sometimes from over the border in Congo. ___________________________________________________________________________ Here’s a lineup of the gorillas that the Fossey Fund monitors to receive official names at this year’s ceremony: ___________________________________________________________________________ Mitimbili’s infant: A male, born on April 24, 2017. This is Mitimbili’s fourth offspring and interestingly all are males and live in the same large group! __________________________________________________________________________ ___________________________________________________________________________ Kurudi’s infant: A female, born in Aug. 4, 2016. This is Kurudi’s fourth infant but she has lived in several groups, so her offspring are spread out. Luckily, her current group has two silverbacks – great for protection! ___________________________________________________________________________ __________________________________________________________________________ Tamu’s infant: Gender still undetermined, born on Sept. 8, 2016. Tamu and her infant live in a small group, with only three females, two infants and the dominant silverback, who is the youngest such leader we follow. ___________________________________________________________________________ Ukuri’s infant: Gender still undetermined, born on Aug. 7, 2016. This is Ukuri’s fourth infant and enjoys playing with three other infants in his growing group, led by impressive dominant silverback Mafunzo. __________________________________________________________________________ ___________________________________________________________________________ Mahirwe’s infant: A female born approximately April 1, 2016. We don’t know the exact date of this infant’s birth, because the group was ranging in the Congo side of the mountains when she was born. This group doesn’t have any other infants right now, but the new infant does have a juvenile sister to play with. ___________________________________________________________________________ __________________________________________________________________________ Tegereza’s infant: A male, first seen on March 7, 2017. Tegereza’s infant was also born while the group was ranging in Congo and is her second infant. He has a juvenile brother in the group. ___________________________________________________________________________ Adult female in Ntambara’s group: First seen on March 8, 2017. This previously unknown female was first seen in the group when they returned from ranging in Congo. Based on her size and appearance, she was estimated to be about 9 years old. She is well established in the group now and becoming more used to the field staff observing the group.

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