Oscar’s Bush Life

Letters / Notes

An adventure in Kenya

I moved out of Karen, a rather exclusive suburb of Nairobi, about three months ago and came to live on the land I have owned for about 17 years in Kitengela, 30 km from Karen, adjacent to and on the South side of Nairobi National Park. My land actually abuts and I own half of the famous ‘Hippo Pools’ of the park; there are many animals around at all times.

Just over ten years ago I leased part of the land to the ‘School for Field Studies’ (SFS) for their ‘Centre for Wildlife Management’. Many American students were coming out here to spend a three-month portion of their studies working ‘in the bush’ together with the Wildlife department here.

I electric-fenced a 20-acre piece of my property and built many ‘organic’ buildings for them. The lease ended last December and my Karen rent was getting ridiculous. I expected SFS to renew their lease but they decided to move to Tanzania instead and so I thought to move out here to deal with figuring out what I could do with the property.

About 7 weeks ago I had three operations – two to straighten my eyes, that were still extremely crooked and paralyzed from my air crash 3 years ago, and also to fix an inguinal hernia of 6 weeks’ duration.

My eyes are fixed as much as they can be – not straight but the paralysis has been unlocked and they can move so now my brain will sort them out as much as it can. The hernia has been a serious situation and I have been basically completely incapacitated, like a cripple, and am only just starting to be able to move around again, which certainly affected my ‘courage‘ a bit in this scenario:

April 28 2011, early morning and an exciting story to tell….

I woke in the night under a strange sort of pressure and it took me quite a while to realize that there were loud noises all around! Very loud noises indeed and I realised, with a shock, that it was a lion roaring seemingly right outside my window! Very, very close and very, very loud! I started getting a cramp in my right calf (a common ‘ailment’ I have) at the same time; got up and hobbled to pee, listening to this huge and scary racket. As the cramp eased off I took the torch and, despite feeling sure that the lion was right outside my house and certainly inside the fence, went out on the wooden porch I’d just built and shone the torch around but didn’t see anything. Because I only moved to this house recently, I haven’t yet unpacked my extremely bright Maglight and so the scene wasn’t strongly illuminated. I started getting actually quite scared to be out ‘in the open’ and went back inside. I had diarrhea from the cramp (also ‘usual’ because the pain is so intense), so took care of that and went back to bed. Checked the time and it was 1 a.m.

Lion
Another lion - photographed by Amareesh

My actions with the light had silenced the lion but it took a long time for me to get back to sleep again. At one point I could hear a cat plaintively crying out in the garden and imagined it was one of my cats, Sasa, who had disappeared since the day before yesterday. Imagined him with broken or chewed rear legs dragging himself through the garden…but I didn’t go out to look. I thought I’d get the watchmen and my maid, Pelestine, to help hunt for him this morning. Then I slept.

Early in the morning there was a racket of guards from down near my house gate in the fence – down near where I thought I’d heard Sasa. I kept hearing them say ‘lala’ (which means sleep), so assumed they were talking about me. “I’m awake!” I yelled in Swahili and one came hurrying up to me. “There was a lion inside the fence that has just broken the wire and set off the alarm as it left!” he said. We went down to take a look and indeed found a wire that was broken just at a junction. My god! And he said it happened now, just before they came. We looked down my drive-way and found those same small paw prints that had been there a few days ago…and he says there are big prints on the outside of the fence. So seems like there was a big lion chasing a small one, almost a cub and maybe a female, and she took refuge in here – inside the electric fence – and then left this morning. What a riot!

I will find out from the people who sold me the fence to tell me if the shock-power gets turned off or continues when the alarm goes off when wires touch. Or the lion must have been very determined to go though the wires whilst still getting the intense shock treatment!

An exciting night and I was right to feel a little scared about coming outside last night. She could have injured me a lot, especially if she was scared too.

Oscar

Oscar lives close to the Nairobi National Park in Kenya, where among many other activities he also conducts exciting wildlife, traditional people, and film safaris. His life took a dramatic turn in January 2008 when a small plane he piloted crashed in the Chyulu Hills; yet he miraculously survived. He has begun to recover from his serious injuries yet his life remains an adventure… Read Kenya: Innovative Ideas for a Unique Property

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