A Most Amazing Experience



I had the most amazing experience last night after I left the Giraffe documentary crew at Sunbird Lodge around 11pm. I received a text: Buffalo killed by 3 lions by Jolai 2 borehole. I was tired, and it was late. I almost decided to just go home but decided to search for the lions. After 30 minutes of unsuccessful searching, I called our operations desk to see if they knew where the kill took place. They said one of our security vehicles was heading to the boma on the south end of the Jolai hill, so I set off to find them. Just as I reached the sirikwa mound, a land cruiser approached from the west. Luckily, they were the oncs that reported the sighting and took me directly to the trough where the young buffalo was killed.

When I finally arrived at the site, the area was heaving with activity – about 15 Jackals, several hyeana and one lioness waiting along the edge of the bush. With the moon’s bright light, I could use my binoculars and could just see two more silhouettes of lionesses. Over the next hour, the hyeanas would cackle and call with deafening sounds just beside my car. When I briefly switched on my lights, I was amazed to see eyes darting everywhere. At one point, there was a thundering sound of hooves rushing toward the trough, and in a could of dust a small herd of very thin buffalo appeared, looking for water. After discovering the trough was empty, they tried to climb on it. Ultimately, they walked away slowly with their heads hung low.

Lion Tracks

Lion Tracks

The lionesses continued to sit quietly in the bushes until the hyeana left. Suddenly, one lioness lept out and grabbed the carcass and began to drag it back toward the others. Before reaching the other lionesses, she stopped to have her own feast. She was just a small distance away but directly in front of me. After a while, she decided to share with the other lionesses. Interestingly, the didn’t mind the jackals, at times letting them have a bite or two. No matter how often I see the lions, it always amazes me how large they are compared to the other animals. She picked up the carcass and continued to carry it a little further. Finally, another lioness got up and went over to it. Although it was quite a distance away now, I could still see them through my binoculars. Even now, I am still wondering why the two lionesses stayed away together for so long. Only when the brave one dragged the carcass closer to their spot did one of them move. The other lioness did not make a move forward at all, as far as I could tell. I couldn’t determine if this was the same lioness that is thought to have had cubs. Why else didn’t she move and the other one stayed with her? After they went further into the bush, I decided to leave. By now it was early morning and the scene played over and over in my mind as I drove back to my cottage.


Our long-awaited website refresh is finally here!

Dear friends and supporters of Soysambu Conservancy,

Our long-awaited website refresh is finally here!  We have added lots of information and photos.

Lake, Pelicans and Nose

Lake, Pelicans and Nose

Line up of Rothschild's Giraffe

Line up of Rothschild’s Giraffe

Ancient bao board carved into stone

Ancient bao board carved into stone

We hope you like the new look.   Please send us your feedback.

Baby giraffe with mother and doing well!

Baby Giraffe and Mom

Saving a Baby Rothschild’s Giraffe on Soysambu Conservancy

Just as the sun was slipping behind the Mau Escarpment I received a call that an endangered baby Rothschild’s Giraffe was in distress. I jumped in my car and rushed there with blankets and phoned the Animal Rights Reserved mobile vet unit in Naivasha. They are about an hour or so away so all we could do was keep the baby warm and give comfort.

Gabi and Maddie comforting baby giraffe

Gabi and Maddie comforting baby giraffe

The sun was setting and there were hyenas close by so I asked our Soysambu Conservancy  rangers for assistance. Mike, who has been on the giraffe monitoring team, arrived with the Conservancy vehicle. While we waited for the Vet Unit to arrive the baby become stronger. When the mom came around we moved away hoping the baby could get up with it’s mum’s encouragement. It was just too weak from many hours lying in that position. When the mom moved away we kept it warm and rubbed it’s body and legs, trying to  get some circulation going. It finally lifted it’s head and sat up but still couldn’t stand and we couldn’t get it on it’s feet despite our best efforts.

Baby Giraffe lifts his head

Baby Giraffe lifts his head

The mobile vet unit arrived and immediately went to work getting the baby giraffe on it’s feet and examined it for injuries.

Standing for the first time

Standing for the first time

Examining Legs

examining legs

The Vet decided it was in good shape but had been lying there in the cold for so long it was numb so he massaged it’s limbs. It was amazing how quickly he responded.

Vet Massaging

Feeding milk and glucose

Feeding milk and glucose

The team then mixed a bottle of milk and glucose and after some coaxing he drank two bottles.

Walking without help

With that in him and feeling better he got up on his own and wobbled a bit but took a few steps. We decided to move as far away as possible and still observe with headlights dimmed to let it’s mom reunite with her baby. It was only a few minutes before she came up to him and touched his head and I guess, told him to follow her. She walked a few steps and he didn’t move, so she went back to him and maybe said “come on, there are hyenas about and you better come with me now”. (only my speculation) Well he followed her a few steps and stopped. She turned around and encouraged him again and he followed. Then he was looking for food so they stopped. She moved on and he didn’t follow so she came back, touched his head and he followed. This happened a few more times until they moved on. A little while later the baby sat down, I guess exhausted, and we were worried but he got back up again and followed her into the bush.

We think the mom was in the process of giving birth near the track from Kekopey to Elmenteita and she became spooked by a vehicle so took off running, the baby came out and hit the ground pretty hard. It is a tough birth in the best of circumstances. They usually get up and start feeding in about 45 minutes up to a couple hours. He had some scrapes on his legs and it was some time before he was discovered. The placenta was very close by so we assume this is the scenario.

A HUGE thanks to Animal Rights Reserved for their quick response which resulted in saving the life of an endangered species!!!

Kat Combes, CEO Soysambu Conservancy

A dream come true and a long journey to World Heritage

I must admit this past week I’ve been holding my breath while waiting to hear if the Kenya Lakes System  (Elmentieta, Nakuru and Bogoria) World Heritage Site would be inscribed. Then late last night while I was sitting in the dark because there was a power cut, I suppose due to the heavy storm,  I turned on my computer, hoping there was a little battery power to check my mail. There in my inbox was a brief note ” You are now part of a World Heritage Site, Congratulations!” At first I was a bit stunned having prepared myself for disappointment.

I couldn’t wait for dawn to rush down to the lake and experience a World Heritage Site. It was like  seeing everything for the very first time…my first World Heritage flamingo, my first world heritage giraffe, eland, tommie, impala, leopard tracks. I wanted to tell those little pelican babies that they would have a safe home. Magical!

It was a hard choice to just soak it in or snap a few photos as I had to rush back to Elmenteita town for a MOGTEKA meeting.

I guess you will need to Blog William Kimosop at Bogoria to hear how long a journey this has been for him, many many years…but for me, I was asked to a meeting back in 2006 when it was decided to try for WH status once again. The last attempt failed due to the unprotected status of Lake Elmenteita. Now began the long process of gazetting Lake Elmenteita Wildlife Sanctuary.

While this was in the process our Greater Lake Elmenteita Conservaton Area Committee and Stakeholders  worked with National Museums of Kenya and Kenya Wildlife Service for years in developing  Management Plan for the Conservation Area which includes the Core zone of the Lake and Riparian Land, The Buffer Zone , Riverine Zone and Controlled Development Zone.

We will be posting more information and links and photos to inform you of our progress.

Here is a link to the UNESCO Site.


We will be looking for help to ensure the World Heritage Status.

Yours in Conserving our World Heritage,

Kat Combes