SAMBURU NATIONAL RESERVE

Samburu lies on the frontier between Kenya’s populous central highlands and its arid, empty north. It boasts a unique mix of wildlife including rare and endangered species. It is less visited than Kenya’s other more famous game parks, but for those in the know, it is among their most treasured wilderness areas. As well as large herds of elephant, Samburu is home to a number of species only found in arid zones, including the Somali ostrich, Beisa oryx, Grevy’s zebra, gerenuk and reticulated giraffe. The reserve is also home to all three big cats – lion, leopard and cheetah – as well as the rare African hunting or wild dog whose numbers are increasing. More than 350 species of birds are resident and 70 migrant species pass through.

The 70 sq mile or 165 sq km reserve is bound to its south by the Ewaso Nyiro river, which rises in the distant Aberdare mountains. Its landscape varies between riverine woodland, open scrub and low hills, with far-off peaks and ranges visible on all horizons. Across the river lies Buffalo Springs, 51 sq miles or 131 sq kms, which is a critical additional expanse of protected reserve. The area is generally hot and dry, with occasional rainstorms especially March to May, and in October and November. The Samburu and Borana people are the guardians of this wilderness. While the Samburu are cousins of the better-known Maasai further south, and share many cultural practices including wearing highly coloured decorative bead jewelry, the Borana are also nomadic pastoralists, but Muslims who are a sub section of the Galla people that stretch all the way into Ethiopia and Somalia.

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