Elephants in Amboseli

October 2016

Elephants, dust and mirages

It was great to be back in Amboseli. We love the vast arid landscapes. The above picture shows us having breakfast on the bonnet of the car in the middle of the dry lake bed, after the golden light had disappeared behind a thick layer of clouds. The Amboseli National Park and the adjacent Kitirua Conservancy in the south west of Kenya are renowned for their big herds of elephants which have been studied since the early seventies. They live a fairly protected life due to the presence of researchers and tourists in the park and the support of the local Maasai people. We picked this time of the year to visit the area as it is the end of the dry season. The first rainclouds are beginning to form, the Amboseli lake bed is completely dry and very dusty, setting the scene for great photo opportunities. Have a look at the pictures in the Amboseli Gallery.

Crossing the lake bed

At this time of the year the large herbivores like elephants, giraffe and wildebeest follow their daily routine of crossing the Amboseli lake bed. They love the forests and grasses near the escarpment and on the far side of the lake. For water they go to the springs and the swampy areas in the park. During the dry season the local Maasai use the same springs to water their cattle. So “trains” of cows and goats can be spotted in a mirage next to wildlife during the heat of the day.

An office called "Maggie"

With our guiding friend Squack Evans and our local Maasai spotter Lehan we were based in Tortilis Camp. A Landrover Defender of 24 years old, nicknamed “Maggie”, formed the office we worked from during our stay. Often we would go up one of the lookout hills to spot animals on the far side of the dry lake bed and then drive out to wait for them to cross. Most of the time we spent in the beautiful and less visited Kitirua Conservancy.

Playing with a GoPro

Apart from taking pictures we also used our GoPro cameras regularly on this trip. We would position them on an elephant path and hope that the herd would walk over the camera. It was essential to camouflage the cameras with elephant dung to take away the human scents. It was amazing to see them gently walking over the cameras, hardly touching it. We are busy editing the movies, so more to come soon!

Have a look at twikga Stories…

The stories of Tanja Dekker Illustration and the twikga books, children’s books about the wilderness, with its diversity of animals, plants and landscapes…