The river was up all last night and held its level all day today – thick with silt and red as rust, rumbling and tumbling its way towards the coast. The Athi River becomes the Galana River when it joins the Tsavo River, a large tributary further downstream from us, and then it changes its name yet again as it leaves the Tsavo National Park, and becomes the Sabaki River, which flows on down to its estuary just north of Malindi on the coast. At this time of year, the soil-laden water will have devastating effects on the corals near the estuary, and on the breeding fish which inhabit the shallow coastal waters – far-reaching repercussions of upcountry erosion.
There is a bush, which seems to have been dying all over our property - in between the healthy bushland, there are large patches of the grey fallen twigs, branches and stems. Why these particular plants are dying, while none of the others seem to be, is strange. We’re not even sure what kind of bush/tree it is - it looks like an Acacia of sorts, as it seems to have hooked thorns. One could be forgiven for thinking the damage was caused by elephants feeding, but when you compare the collapsed dead bush with a bush that has been fed on by elephants, the differences are quite stark: the latter has bark shredded from the branches (which the elephants chew into a ball in their mouths), and you can see where the branches have been ripped from the roots. The collapsed bushes however, have much cleaner breaks and no bark has been shredded from the dead branches. I’m wondering if it’s not ants which, beaver-like, have felled the bushes – just like they’ve done to one of our young fig trees in our balcony nursery – so much for putting them out of reach of the Dik-diks – the ants got to them instead.
There was a rainstorm on the other side of the Yatta (we could see and smell it), but no more rain here. I hope we get some more, as thousands of tiny plants are sprouting everywhere – still just a few millimetres high – and without more rain, they will all perish.
A dead elephant has recently been found on the neighbouring property to ours. No-one knows how it died, whether it was poached or died of natural causes. The carcass is about six weeks old (so one estimate goes) and it was only discovered when the direction of the wind changed, and we could start smelling it from the road. The ivory has been taken, but this could merely be opportunism (as opposed to deliberate killing) by someone who found the elephant and knew they could get some money for the tusks on the black market. (Trading in ivory is totally illegal here in Kenya, as is killing elephants). The tusks were pulled out of the carcass, not hacked – which could possibly be an indication of a natural death. Had they been hacked out, it would prove that the elephant was deliberately killed for its ivory. We might go and take a look tomorrow.