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WHAT & WHERE IS KULAFUMBI?

1724670-982768-thumbnail.jpg 'Kulafumbi' is our family home in Kenya, East Africa. 'Kulafumbi' is a play on the Kiswahili words "kula vumbi", which mean "eat dust", because it was so hot and dusty building our house in this remote, wild, wonderful place. Kulafumbi borders the Tsavo National Park - with no fences between us and the Park, the wildlife comes and goes of its own free will and treats our land as its own, which is exactly how we like it. In turn, we provide a protected area for the wild animals to do as they please. This protected area also creates an important buffer for the river, which forms the boundary between us and the park.
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ON-GOING SPECIES COUNT

1829439-992202-thumbnail.jpg Look how many species of animals & birds we've spotted to date at Kulafumbi:

MAMMALS: 43+
REPTILES &
AMPHIBIANS: 18+++

BIRDS: 199+
INSECTS: Too many to count

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KENYANS FOR WILDLIFE
is a dynamic, interesting Facebook group which discusses wildlife issues in Kenya and is having an incredible effect on conservation in this country. You don't have to be Kenyan - this group is open to everyone. If you care about conservation in Africa, please do join. 

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"We are the music-makers,
And we are the dreamers of dreams,
Wandering by lone sea-breakers,
And sitting by desolate streams;
World-losers and world-forsakers,
On whom the pale moon gleams:
Yet we are the movers and shakers
Of the world for ever, it seems..."

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Saturday
Nov242012

Dung Wars!

Apparently, during the rains up to 80,000 insects - including a host of dung beetles - feed on each pile of elephant dung deposited in Tsavo. Of course dung beetles don't actually eat the dung itself, but rather micro-organisms in the dung. Capable of carrying away and burying 250 times their own body weight, collectively dung beetles bury many tons of dung each day and are one of the most important soil fertilizers of the savannah.

Like most insects, dung beetles hatch out when it rains and nothing attracts them more than a nice fresh heap of elephant dung.

They come in all shapes and sizes - although on this particular dung heap photographed recently in Tsavo East, there were none of the giant Heliocopris dilloni beetles, but only the one-and-a-half inch Scarabs and dozens of smaller varieties.

Fighting over dung is a serious business, even if it takes the belligerents far from the prize:

Some of the dung beetles start to fashion balls out of the dung and then start to roll them away in all directions.

But some of the beetles are too busy fighting to start making their own balls:

Others try to steal the dung that another has already started to fashion into a ball:

Every second, more and more dung beetles arrive on the scene:

And still the thieves try to steal the handiwork of others - and yet another battle ensues:

Even as they fight, tiny flies buzz around the beetles, waiting for their share of the spoils.

This unfortunate beetle got so carried away fighting over a dung ball that it fell into a scorpion hole. The large scorpion, obviously none too pleased at the disturbance, attacked the beetle and stung it to death:

The scorpion then retreated back into its hole, while the beetle slowly succumbed:

The more fortunate beetles were able to roll their dung balls away and start burying them. Deep within each dung ball, they will have laid an egg which will hatch, feed on the dung as a larva, pupate and then eventually, with the next rainy season, emerge as a brand new beetle to start the process all over again: