The conservation area in which our camp is located covers tens of thousands of acres and is managed very competently by our chief warden. His is one of those roles that would be impossible to contain within a job description and covers land management, community work, wildlife welfare and ensuring that the camps adhere to the conservancy code of conduct.
As he knows we will be with guests at particular times of the day he mainly communicates via texts, some of which have been very cryptic.
‘It’s possible that a naked man might be running through your camp in the next two minutes.‘
This turned out to be a herdsman who, when caught by rangers grazing illegally through a conservation area, had panicked and caused a mini stampede amongst his cows, one of whom had stood on his shuka [wrap-around blanket that the Maasai wear] which meant the herdsman continued his frantic run without it. An unusual number of our female guests showed a remarkable interest in using the binoculars in the mess tent that afternoon.
A couple of months ago he sent us:
‘Have you got any room in your freezer for a lion’s head?‘
A lioness had died in a suspected case of poisoning and the head needed to be stored until it could be collected and tested by the relevant people in Nairobi. D was really hoping that someone would annoy him over the following days so he could do a bush version of the oft-quoted Mafia threat.
Then, today lunchtime:
‘Is anyone’s guest missing a hat? We’ve found it next to the Simba lion pride, a bit pawed but still ok.’
D read out the message to our guests who all confirmed that their hats were safely on their heads. Then:
‘On second thoughts; are any of the camps missing a guest? The good news is; we’ve found their hat.’