It was a noisy morning. About 4.30 a.m. the Matatus started hooting and at 5 a.m. the mullah called for prayer. Waking up by city noises in the bush felt weird and suddenly the Nakuru National Park felt like a zoo to me, which is a pity, because it’s beautiful.
The group from the truck got up, packed and took off within 15 minutes. Amazing. We were not that fast, but off for the drive with packed breakfast at 6.30 a.m.
There is a road going around the lake with just a few side roads. It’s an easy course and even school buses come and take the children out for a lovely day with the animals. And there were plenty. In the first place plenty of birds and specially flamingos, thousands along the shore. Our drive took us around the lake through a beautiful fever tree forest. Paul told me that there is one part of the shore where we can get close to the flamingos and we made our way to that spot. As we approached the shore we saw a hyena next to the road. She didn’t respond like a healthy animal usually does, being alert, keeping distance or even run off. This hyena must have been injured. She could hardly walk, her eyes were looking empty, she was behaving like in trance, focused to get to a hiding place, what we figured was a dip next to a drainage pipe, where she lied down, looking exhausted and stressed. We let her alone to avoid more stress for her (we actually didn’t know if it was a male or female, difficult to say with hyenas) and decided to come back later. I thought she was dying.
Just about a 100 meters from the hyena was this broad part of the shore with thousands of flamingos. Vehicles can get there very easily and the rest you can walk and this is actually the interesting part, because there were not only birds, but also rhino and buffalo. At this lake one can really forget very quickly that this is the bush and drop guard while busy with the tripod and focused on shooting birds in the most beautiful interaction and suddenly the photographer becomes an easy target for a buffalo. Nothing like that happened, but it crossed my mind and I kept an eye on the buffalo and rhino. Shooting the birds was awesome and the memory cards were filled quickly. We decided to drive a bit closer to the big mammals and had our breakfast between the rhino, buffalos, zebras, pelicans, flamingos and plenty of other bird species. This was also a good moment to set up office to upload the photos and check emails. Yes, check emails. I can’t imagine a more beautiful location for an office and thanks to the satellite technique nowadays this is possible.
For our afternoon game drive we started again our round trip around the lake and we were very lucky to see colobus monkeys. This is a rare sighting and they were just next to the road jumping in the trees. I actually got a couple of good shots to find out later that I lost them somewhere between uploading and backup. Again a lesson in staying focused and being careful all the time.
Our drive brought us to the dip where we left the hyena in the morning. We approached carefully and yes she was still there and for a moment I thought she was dead, but then she tried to lift her head. She was in a very bad shape. There were no visible injuries, so we assumed there could probably be internal bleedings, maybe a kick from a buffalo or something like that from interaction with another animal. There was nothing we could do.
Ute Sonnenberg for www.rohoyachui.com