Conservation geography, safari & Dirlandaa

On the third day it was an early morning for the Taita field course, as we had an exciting safari day ahead of us! Our bus, named as Toyota Predator, started for LUMO Community Wildlife Sanctuary southwest of Taita Hills.


LUMO Sanctuary is a community organized conservation established in early 2000s’ by three local livestock ranches, with current members around 7000. Parts of the LUMO sanctuary are strictly for conservation and part for also livestock management, making the area an interesting site for studying conservation, livestock management and dynamics between them. Over time LUMO area has been transitioning from grassland and shrubland to grassland and barren land due to overgrazing. Studies in land cover changes had been compiled into a poster, which was presented to station manager Joseph.

We had a chance to hear from Joseph and LUMO rangers on dynamics between wildlife and cattle grazing, as well as other local livelihoods. There has been recent conflict between human-raised rogue elephants and the locals, with some of the elephants cracking open the house roofs and snacking on peoples’ pantries, with candy being the favoured snack. Because of the prolonged rain season, normally dry savannah was lush and green.

In the field we were show thermite mounds and how they study them. There are two types of termites, which you can identify by the type of mound they build. The termite mounds are easy to spot in the landscape by their colour and size.

For lunch we headed up to Lions Bluff in Tsavo. The views where breath taking and the food delicious. We highly enjoyed our stay but after the lunch we were eager to see more wildlife. Because of the greenery the animals are spread out, and the grass is much taller, which makes spotting them difficult. We saw Eland, Imapala, Grant’s gazelle, thompson’s gazelle, hartebeest, gnu, ground squirrel, slender mongoose, zebra, elephants, lesser kudu, ostriches, and many kinds of birds.

After a long safari day, we headed to a local wildlife lodge, with the intentions of grabbing quick refreshments before heading back to the station. Arriving at Taita Hills resort & spa, we we’re met with blaring music, resort employees dancing around dressed as santa clauses and DJ hyping up the crowd: we had crashed the resort staffs’ post-christmas party. With Taita research station held in high regard amongst the locals, we were invited to join the party as guests. Free refreshments were served, and we had the chance to enjoy the entertainment and mingle with the staff. As we were met with open hospitality, we wished to also give something in return. As the sun was setting over Lumo Community Wildlife Conservancy, the familiar tunes of 70’s hit song by Kai Hyttinen rang out above the savannah. With many a Dirlandaa danced amongst us geographers, this one had to be one of the most legendary ones. As the staff joined in on our dancing line snaking through the tables, an unforgettable moment was shared, and we danced our way to the sunset.