Samburu, Buffalo Springs & Shaba
The Samburu Reserve covers 104 square kilometers on the northern bank of Ewaso Ng’iro River, the adjoining Buffalo Springs Reserve of 194 square kilometers lies on the southern bank of the same river. A bridge across the Ewaso Ng’iro connects the two reserves, as well as Shaba National Reserve which covers some 130 square kilometers. Shaba National Reserve may be best known as the place where George and Joy Adamson raised Elsa the lioness made famous by the best selling and award-winning book Born free.
Unlike other wildlife areas in Kenya’s northern tourist circuit, the three reserves, known as the Samburu Ecosystem, sustain free-ranging wildlife species both within the reserves as well as far into community lands.
Lying on the fringe of Kenya’s vast, hot and arid northern region, Samburu’s rugged scenery, endless skies, and vast panoramas create a stunning backdrop. The Ewaso Ng’iro river is the bloodline of this hot and arid environment and its waters support big herds of Elephants as well as Black Rhinoceros, Buffalo, Lion, Cheetah, Leopard, and many other species. The riverbanks are lined with acacias, doum, and fig palms, providing shade and sustenance to the visiting wildlife, and good numbers of crocodiles and hippos can also be seen along the sandbanks. The birdlife is strikingly numerous and colorful; there is no difficulty in seeing well over a hundred birds on a single day and especially around the river and the waterholes.
Besides normal species found elsewhere in Kenya, Samburuland has its own ‘Special Five’ – rare and endemic animals home in the Samburu ecosystem:
- Grevy’s zebra - is far bulkier and more narrowly striped than the familiar common zebra
- Long-necked gerenuk - standing erect on its hind legs to reach leaves that most other browsers can’t; it can go its entire life without drinking water, enabling them to survive in dry areas
- Reticulated giraffe - the striking red hides are divided by a jigsaw pattern of white lines (reticulations)
- Somali ostrich - with distinct grey-blue neck and thighs
- Beisa oryx - handsome antelope with legendary longhorns