The lake systems of Western Kenya form a unique and special habitat. It is recognized by UNESCO as a world heritage site (Click Here). We drove up from Lake Naivasha and had lunch at the entrance to the park. Look out for the Black Faced Vervets. These monkeys play for keeps.
As we drove clockwise around the lake. We came across cape buffalos. Snorting and angry looking, they glared us down not giving an inch until we moved on. We saw rhinoceroses battling. There was a giant dust storm and we couldn’t get much closer. We also saw several troupes of olive baboons.
As we made our way to our campsite for the night (Makalia Falls Campsite), we spied a leopard in the process of stalking some prey. It watched from a tree for nearly 20 minutes, then stealthily slipped down the tree and lurked below some brush. Our guide drove the large overland vehicle slowly following, and the leopard didn’t seem to care at at all. The leopard paused and looked at us, and we thought we spoiled the hunt. Then the leopard took off, and a group of impalas scattered. The leopard caught up with a baby, and swiftly crunched its neck. We had to reconcile watching the life light in one get extinguished for the life light of another. It then dragged the carcass off near the base of a tree and had dinner.
The IUCN Redlist lists the leopard as vulnerable. Fragmentation of habitat, human interactions, poaching, use of skins for ceremonial reasons, and reduction of prey are all listed as reasons for population declines. There are several organizations trying to save these cats. However, they need space and animals to prey upon. National Park Areas like Lake Nakuru are helpful, but with human populations burgeoning, space and freedom from human interference will be harder to come by.