Driving up north from Nairobi, that familiar feeling of excitement slowly grows and as the roads wind down towards the dusty, desert heat of Samburu, city life is now a distant memory.
Samburu County is predominantly semi-arid with scarce erratic rainfall.
Breezing past reticulated giraffes, pretty-eyed dik-diks and comical flocks of vulturine guineafowl, I’m headed for Maralal Town.
Clearly, increased human dependence on forest resources along with variability in intensity and seasonality of rainfall, have resulted in prolonged drought and severe weather events in recent years as evidenced by the bare land sparsely covered in bush and scrub.
In the Samburu ecosystem humans, domestic animals and wildlife co-exist sharing the same environmental resources, are exposed to common risks and in some cases antagonize the lives and existence of one another.
Known for its high elephant numbers and the rare dryland fauna of northern Kenya – the area is famous for the lesser known ‘Samburu Five’ made up of Grevy’s zebra, reticulated giraffe, gerenuk, beisa oryx, and Somali ostrich.
There are also over 50 species of larger mammals in the reserve including lion, leopard, cheetah, warthog, and even wild dogs. Samburu also boasts an abundance of birdlife with over 450 species recorded including the African darter, great egret, white-headed vulture, martial eagle, and yellow-billed oxpecker.
According to Samburu traditional beliefs, elephants are part of the clan, almost like ancestors, and killing them is taboo.
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