At the end of every year I tend to look back on what we have achieved (or not achieved) and then hope that next year will be a better one. This year is no different, but what has changed is that 2023 has been a year of huge achievement! After 12 years we have finally paid off our loan and for the first time The Emakoko has finished a year out of the red and into he black.
So naturally, I have breathed a sigh of relief and am ready to now retire, Anthony on the other hand has other plans much to my horror so I guess that next year we hope that Anthony and Emma do not have a divorce! Watch this space, as there is something new and exciting coming soon…….
But back to The Emakoko, it has been a wonderful year and we have, once again, met some remarkable people. My mother, the social butterfly of the family so turns 80 this year, looks on, green with envy at the incredible and interesting people that cross our bridge. She has asked, begged, to be allowed to come in and ‘entertain’ our guests but both Anthony and I feel that having a Maggie Smith type character meeting our guests may lower our ratings! Whilst speaking of my mother, she and my father moved out to Kenya just after independence in 1969 and have never looked back. Dad left the army having been based in Borneo during the borneo Malaya conflict and started an advertising firm out here in Kenya with the then Ogalviy and Marther, by the end an enormous firm Young and Rubicam became a part of the company and he now lives in Nairobi with my mother fully retired. Mum now, when she is not talking at my father, writes books – the first one “Yesterday, today and tomorrow’ hit the shelves a few years ago and is about a young couple who build a lodge on the border of Nairobi National Park……..
Still on the subject of family, our amazing team, continue to strive towards greatness and it is really wonderful that we still have most of our team with us today. One of our team members, Patrick (aka Patrick the Dawa Doctor) has been a part of Anthony’s life since he was 28 years old. I love that we are all growing older together, our families expanding, some of us becoming parents for the first time and some of us becoming grand parents…..and no, I am not talking about Anthony and I! We experienced the worst drought I have ever seen since we have been in the park, and one evening, after dinner service Steve chef and Jacinta were on their way back home when much to their horror, they came across a rather large old grumpy Buffalo who had somehow climbed all the stairs from the main area up to room 6! All parties involved were as surprised as each other and each to their own,scattered in every direction. Poor old Steve, not quite the Usain Bolt that he once was, was slow off the mark and very nearly got taken out by the grumpy old boy as it decided to defend rapidly back down the steps. Thankfully there were no injuries for all three!
Once cannot talk about a year in review without mentioning the weather. Oh yes, it seems that climate change (or not climate change) is becoming more and more visible to us anyway than ever before. As I mentioned earlier, we had the most horrific drought and a good percentage of our herbivore population was wiped out. Thank’s to my mother and the Nairobi community we managed to raise over USD$10,000 to help with food and water. Once particular group of Buffalo’s turned The Emakoko into their home for 3 weeks and each day Lele would step out, amazingly the Buffalo would move aside, as he put down hay and Molasses every day. Soon we had our old resident Hippo back and he too joined the group for the daily drought relief buffet. It is wonderful to see the Buffalo heard and our Hippo still around today, Mr. Hippo spent the last half of November under the bridge as the rivers came up and from time to time, one of our female Buffalo’s comes down to the pool area with her posse to graze on the now lush green grass. She is looking rather rotund, I am not sure if it is from the grass or if she is in the family way!
As for the cats, as the year closes we have had 23 individual Cheetah in the park. Sadly, most of them were cubs and as per the norm only a few have made it to adult hood. As of today, we have 7 adults and 5 cubs who are still in and around the park – since the history of The Emakoko we have never had this many Cheetah in the park, long may it last! Our Leopards continue to entertain us, not so long ago our CCTV captured our young leopard bounding around on our sofas. What goes on at night here is quite extraordinary! We have also
been so lucky to see our beloved Koko again. For those who are not sure of who she is, Koko made her first appearance in November 2017, when her and her mother ‘terrorised’ the
neighbourhood! She spent her first year in the Emakoko area and was wonderful for the avid photographers. Every now and then I would pull back my curtains in the morning to fine a traffic jam of cars on our hill – Koko posing for the photographers. She moved away from the area and we would see her, and her cubs from time to time up in the forest. A few weeks back, Koko returned and it was wonderful to see her looking so fit and healthy. She was wonderful as usual, posing for our guests and I do hope that she looking at relocating back to our neighbourhood.
As for the mighty Nairobi Park Lions, they continue to thrive. More often than not, I come across them on the roads, in particular during the rains when they hate the wet long grass making them wet. They are completely at ease with the many cars that pass them by. There has been a change of guard, Mpakasi and Kitili, who have ruled the park completely unchallenged for over three years have finally been taken down by the youngsters. Interestingly, the ‘Kingdom’ has now been split into two, on the Southern area we have Elongate and Selengai who can often ben seen out on patrol. On the upper side, Quintai and Leshan guard their territory fiercely. Amazingly enough, we have our ‘Dame’ Solo, who is now 15 years in age and is the oldest lion in the park, she has somehow managed to move through both kingdoms without any objection from the young lads……I have no doubt that being the ‘Queen’ she has their utmost respect.
Speaking of Lions, I am reminded of George Adamson and the wonderful work he did with Lions, was looking for a quote of his about what a Lions roar meant and came across something even better. Something that I think is worthing thinking about as we enter another year.
“Who will now care for the animals, for they cannot look after themselves? Are there young men and women who are willing to take on this charge? Who will raise their voices, when mine is carried away on the wind, to plead their case?”
So from ‘Living on the edge’ of Nairobi National Park, that is all from us. Wherever you are in the world, we wish you all a happy, healthy, peaceful and prosperous 2024!