The Cheffings Family is all well. Zoe is into double figures, now 10 (but thinks she is 13!), Oscar is 9, and Ella 41⁄2. They are all still thriving at school and in the outdoor environment offered by life in Kenya. This last term Oscar was captain of his year group cricket team, sweeping all opposition aside.
Zoe’s horseback skills continue to improve with her 2 ponies (Dart and Eclipse) that she competes on regularly at dressage and show jumping. At a recent horse show, she returned with a collection of rosettes and a trophy. Mind you, even Ella won her ‘leading rein’ class and finished with a handsome trophy! Zoe continues to excel academically and is now playing the very accomplished piano. It’s those long Cheffings fingers being put to good use. Fiona stays busy keeping them all under control as well as with her real estate business that continues to thrive. There continues to be unprecedented growth in the Nairobi real estate values so it is a good position to be in.
2013 was a very busy year for Onsafari. Many of you were here this year and we had some very memorable times, with extraordinary sightings. These safari activities can all be followed on OnSafari’s Facebook page . Please also stay in touch with the Onsafari website www.onsafarikenya.com . Mobile camping is still the core of all safaris in Kenya, tents are all upgraded and the Mess tent is fabulous.
Kenya continues to be the primary focus of safaris. It is simply not possible to achieve a greater variety of habitats, wildlife, birdlife, cultures, and experiences in any other country in Africa. It is very hard to beat Kenya as a safari destination. Mobile camping has been focused on Onsafari’s exclusive campsites, one in the vast wilderness of Tsavo East National Park (on the banks of the Galana River) and the other in the centre of the Mara Game Reserve (on the banks of the Mara River). These two sites are fabulous and combine so very well for a safari, offering great contrast in habitat and experience. It is amazing how quickly the wildlife gets used to our presence. The elephants in Tsavo quickly habituated, and are now happy to walk right in amongst the tents. One young bull, in particular, has taken to making regular visits. Combining staying at these exclusive camps with beautiful boutique style lodges is undoubtedly the best way to do this. We have had first-class wildlife viewing this year, sometimes simply breath-taking in its beauty, other times breath-taking in its brutality. This is nature in action and it continues to be my desire to get you to see and appreciate the extraordinary scenes as much as I do.
Kenya News and Views
Kenya has had a difficult year away from the fabulous wildlife zones. Our new government has struggled to grasp the evolving situations. The crisis in Somalia is now far reduced (although not ended) due to sustained efforts from Kenya’s armed forces and the focus of the international community. However, taking on the Al-Shabaab militants has had its repercussions, the Westgate siege being the most obvious. A large fire at the International Airport also did not help Kenya’s image. In spite of this, while tourism figures have undoubtedly taken a hit, especially the beach tourism, Kenya’s economy continues to grow at a rapid pace.
The immediate wildlife crisis facing us in Africa continues to be the high levels of rhino and elephant poaching throughout the continent. This is now firmly an international issue. Revenues from ivory and rhino horn are used to finance the emergence of violent African militias and other terrorist organizations that then lead to international terrorism events. It is thought that poaching generated USD 5 – 6 Billion in 2012 alone, and at least the same equivalent in 2013.
While international organizations and governments are working to tackle the trade at higher levels, local on-the-ground rangers such as those of the Kenya Wildlife Service and smaller conservation bodies are at the sharp end, often putting themselves in harm’s way to protect these iconic animals. OnSafari offers support to Richard Moller and the Tsavo Trust in order to do our part in the fight against this menace. Onsafari donates a portion of revenue on behalf of every visitor hosted in Kenya to the Tsavo Trust. The Tsavo area is obviously close to my heart as we now spend a great deal of time in Tsavo.This private conservation initiative has provided badly needed support to the Kenya Wildlife Service over this vast wilderness that is Tsavo, home to some 20,000 elephants, and some of those last great tuskers that we are desperate to look after. Many of you met Richard this last season and heard first hand from him about the challenges he faces daily. Our elephants currently need all the support they can get to keep them alive. Please go to The Tsavo Trust website www.tsavotrust.org to learn more about them. And then come and see these magnificent animals for yourself!