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Lewa Wildlife Conservancy Safari
Thursday, September 21, 2017

We were up again at 5:00AM. Coffee was delivered to our cottage at 5:30AM. The cottage has a pointed pitched thatch roof with wood-burning fireplace. You can elect to eat some of your meals in the cottage instead of dining with all the other guests each night.

And it is Soma Sowa which means It's OK in Swahili.
Morning sun on the rocks

We are out on an early morning game drive and found two White Rhinos - a young male and young female.

The White Rhino was introduced in Kenya after the decimation of the native black rhino population as a result of poaching. Even though not a native species, it has thrived in Kenya, and the country currently hosts about 400 animals.

Rhinos of any breed have thick skin, but that doesn't mean that it's strong. In fact, a rhino's skin is relatively sensitive, and this is why he has so much of it.

We saw another White Rhino with an unusually long horn. A "Crush" of Rhinos is a group and we saw a 6 - 8 month old. When Rhinos have 2nd calf they push the older one away and he/she joins another family or Mother Rhino. This happens with White but Black Rhinos go off by themselves and live in solitary.

Rhinos live for 40 - 45 years.

White rhinoceros is the largest of the five species of rhinoceros. It drinks twice a day if water is available, but if conditions are dry it can live four or five days without water.
We saw an Eland on a ridge

Common Eland - The name 'eland' is Dutch for "elk" or "moose". The Common Eland is the slowest antelope
The view of Mount Kenya was stunning.

Mount Kenya is the highest mountain in Kenya and the second-highest in Africa, after Kilimanjaro. Mount Kenya is a stratovolcano created approximately 3 million years after the opening of the East African rift. In April 1978 the area was designated a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve.

Most of the peaks on Mount Kenya have been summited. The majority of these involve technical rock climbing.
On a hill beside some Zebras, we saw several Gerenuk eating from a tree. They are sometime referred to as Giraffe Antelope because their necks are so long.

Primarily a browser, the Gerenuk feed on foliage of bushes as well as trees, shoots, herbs, flowers and fruits. It can reach higher branches and twigs better than other gazelles and antelopes by standing erect on its hind legs and elongating its neck; this helps it reach nearly 7 feet above the ground. Acacia trees are eaten whenever available.
We saw a large Kori Bustard, the heaviest flying bird alive.

Being a large and heavy bird, it avoids flying if possible. When alarmed it will first run and, if pushed further, will take to the air on the run with much effort, its wings making heavy wing beats. Once airborne it flies more easily with slow, measured wing beats, with the neck extended and the legs folded. It usually remains low and lands again within sight
Several Elands were grazing at the top of a hill. The largest of all the antelope but can still jump 7' high.

Common Elands have a mild temperament and have been successfully domesticated for meat and milk production in South Africa and Russia
We spotted a Superb Starling bird in a tree and Cal got a good shot of it.

We saw a herd of Buffalo.

On the drive back to Camp for breakfast, we saw a herd of female Grant Gazelles. The females have horns but the males have even longer horns.

There was one Oryx with long straight horns.
Near the marsh was a Mother and her two baby cubs playing together.

There was a sighting of a lioness and cubs and everyone came running. We had to wait our turn as the Lewa agreement only allows for 2 vehicles near the animals at a time.

Unfortunately the cubs were in the full afternoon sun while they played making pictures difficult.
Reticulated Giraffe

Along with the Rothschild's Giraffe, the Reticulated Giraffe is the most common giraffe found in zoos.

The Giraffes eat around the tops of trees but cannot reach the center point of the tree so many trees have a cone shape in the middle.

They have put up elephant fencing to keep the elephants from trampling the trees especially along the ridge line. Elephants can be very destructive of the natural habitat.

We saw a group of Army Ants marching across the road. They raid nests for eggs or termites and they have a very bad, nasty bite.

We stopped because a group of monkeys were making noises which is a signal that big cats are nearby.
Grevy's zebra, note that the stripes do not go under the belly like the Plains Zebra.

We saw another sighting of Mother and baby White Rhinos.

We had our breakfast in the Bush where they had tables and chairs set up for us and another couple who rode up on horseback. The couple live in the Silicon Valley area. He is an engineer for Nest and she is an OBGYN in the Valley area. They have a 4 year old and a 1.5 year old child back home. The grandparents are sharing responsibility for the little ones until the parents return.

Breakfast was assorted fruits, cereals, scrambled eggs and toast and jam. After breakfast, the couple rode back to Camp on Camels.

After breakfast, we saw a collection of Zebras, a Giraffe and an Eland.
We saw Somali Ostriches with gray bodies and gray heads.

There was a Black Rhino with a 3 month-old baby who was very shy. We saw three large Elephants. One had a collar on and is being tracked by the Park Service.

Lunch was served at 1:00PM. We met a new family who had just arrived. Min or Melinda, Julian and twin girls, Sophia and Estella. They live in Australia and travel frequently. Julian is an entrepreneur and currently co-owner of a vodka company, VDKA with Robert de Niro. He travels to NYC, London, Dubai and Abu Dabi. Julian's father was a British Diplomat and his Mother a war correspondent. His parents divorced so he traveled wherever they might be from his boarding school in England. They have family still in London.

The other couple with young toddler were from Kent where she is an Equine Dentist and he is a pilot, who used to fly a route to Dar es Salaam.

At lunch we met Miranda who runs the Stables housing former Polo ponies the guests can ride. The owners of the compound are avid polo players so there is a stable full of well trained Polo ponies for their games.
At the 4:00PM drive, we saw a Reticulated Giraffe against a blue rain cloud.

We saw a baby Rhino and White Rhino mom.
Closeup of little White Rhino

Grevy's zebra with acacia

We could see Elephants on the horizon and.... we crossed the river stream, we saw a Monitor Lizard.

We then saw Black Rhino with an incredibly long horn with her little Rhino baby. The Mom's name is Why Why.

A Black Rhino. Starting out with 15 black rhinos in 1984 Lewa's rhino population has since risen steadily. Now Lewa is exporting rhinos to other parks.

January 2017, the Lewa had a combined Black Rhino population of 83 as well as 74 White Rhinos, which constitute 15 percent of Kenya's entire rhino population
Black Rhino with young rhino. The Black Rhinos are much more aggressive than the White Rhinos. The jeep could not get close to a Black Rhino for fear of being charged.

Black Rhino young and mother

Mushi said there is a blind Rhino (not this one) which had a baby that the Rangers bottle feed and take care of the little calf.
Vervet monkey - monkeys are everywhere....

We came up on several Ostriches and were watching them when a fight broke out.

East African Oryx

They are able to store water by raising their body temperatures (so as to avoid perspiration).
Classic acacia

Giraffe with little Oxpeckers flying about

Dinner was at 8:00PM and we could again see the Milky Way from the patio. At dinner the twins, Estella and Sophia, sat next to me and their parents ended up at the opposite end of the dining table.

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