Den Of Death

In our examination, we find twelve skulls, which is four more kills than we know about. There are many arm and leg bones. One arm, with the left hand still attached, has a wedding ring on the 4th finger. Helena really has trouble handling this find. To make it worse, I remove the ring and put it in my pocket. My bet is that it belongs to the American husband killed in Masai Mara. There are five intact rib cages. We find three men’s caps and two women’s scarves. The whole search can certainly be classified as gruesome, but in the far back right corner of the liar Noah spots a green clothing fragment. It is part of Dr. Opopo’s shirt and his name tag was still attached. Benjamin stops and points. In addition to the expected lion tracks, he identifies some Hyena and leopard pug marks.

As we finish the sweep of the Den, Noah announces that he wants to send a team of forensic specialists to the Den to conduct a thorough collection and analysis of the remains. “My hope is that some of the remains can be specifically identified. There is just too much here. This is overwhelming and way too important. Sorry, but we need professional help.”

Benjamin takes a few more photos, then we gather the three journalists and begin our somber hike back to the vehicles. With very few words spoken, we load up and head to Lolgorien.

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Help Benga

With all the insanity that has occurred in the last 25 minutes, none of us has noticed that the rain has stopped and now a full moon illuminates the entire camp. From my vantage point, standing in the open side door, I can clearly see our fallen and unconscious adversary only yards away from our RV. I step out of the camper and into at least an inch of standing rain water. Benjamin is next. Then Jacob. I reach up and help Makali as he steps down the ladder into a bloody puddle next to the giant fallen simba. He moves next to Jacob and we all look up at Myles. (lion roar..)

“I’ll help Benga get to the door. You Mates help him out of here.”

“You got it,” Benjamin answers. “Gently.”

Myles turns and walks back to Benga. “Kuweka mikono yako karibu na shingo yangu. (put your hands around my neck). Mimi nimepata wewe. (I’ve got you).”

With a grimace and a soft moan Benga reaches up and folds his hands around Myles’ neck. Being extremely careful with his injured leg, Myles lifts him carefully and carries him “craddle-style” to the door, being extra cautious around the uninvited intrusive acacia limb. As he approaches the door, Makali makes a move to reach up for his friend. I gently hold him back. Placing my hand on his shoulder,

“I’ve got him, Amigo. You sit this one out.” I take two steps up the camper steps and take Benga in my arms. “Benga, you are going to be alright. I’ve got you.” Benjamin helps me carry him to Myles’ Land Cruiser. Makali is supporting Bengas’ leg as we carefully walk in the golden-yellow moonlight.

“Benjamin, let’s put him in the back area of the Cruiser until we make a bed for him in the back seat. He has to be able to extend and elevate his leg. It’s going to be a long and uncomfortable ride to town. I’ll go grab some blankets and pillows. You can help by supporting his head and helping him keep his leg still, I’ll be right back.” I squeeze Bengas’ right hand. “Stay brave, soldier.” Benga squeezes my hand in return and smiles up at me.

“I’ve got him Charles,” Benjamin replies.

“Me stay, Bwana”, Makali adds.

“Yes, thought you would.”

Turning to walk back to the camper, I become aware of our now visible surroundings. In the welcomed bright moonlight  I can see the exploded and charred light pole, the devastation to the camper from the fallen acacia tree, and the damage to the door and side from the maddened male lion. I turn and look back at Benjamin.

“Oh man! Benjamin, have you ever seen anything like this?”

“No, Charles. In the daylight I’ll take some photos. No one will ever believe this.” (lioness roar)

To my left, I see that Myles and Jacob have sloshed their way over to the one-eyed female and are admiring the 2nd darted trophy.

“Chuck, ok if we drag Ms. Pop-eye over to the cage?” Jacob yells.

“Yeah, just a second. I’ll be right there. I can help.”

As I walk toward the camper, I make a quick detour and walk over to check on our caged captive. As I approach, the rain-soaked lioness crouches, growls, and leaps at me slamming into the side of the cage. She rebounds off the cage and splashes muddy water toward me as she falls backwards. I step back. The lioness stands and doesn’t retreat. I take a step closer. In a low voice, “Well, it’s almost over, Missy. Oh and, by the way, your boyfriend didn’t make it!” As I turn to walk back toward the camper, the lioness rumbles a low refrain. I’m pretty sure I just got cussed-out by a homicidal, mud caked carnivore. I mumble back, “Yeah, well up yours too!”

 

 

 

 

 

 

“There has been a lion attack, night before last, just south of here, near Uregi.”

“Gentlemen, another thing,” I said solemnly. “Before breakfast I was on the radio with the Game Department. There has been a lion attack, night before last, just south of here, near Uregi. That’s not very far. It seems a pride of three rouge lions, one large male, and two female, entered a Masai village and dragged one sleeping man out of his hut and into the bush. The family of the man, and the people of the village could do nothing but watch in horror as the lions pulled their victim into the darkness. The Game Warden said the report says the man was not dead as the lions carried him away. He was screaming and fighting, but powerless. The big male lion had the man by his neck. His remains were found yesterday morning. What a horrible death.”

“Oh my God,” Bryce said.

“Jabari kumasaidia ( God help them),” Makali whispered.

“Anything we can do?” Myles asked.

“I wish.  We can’t put our guests in that kind of danger, but we better watch and be extra careful,” I added.

“Lion don’t normally roam too far from their home. I’d think we’re far enough away,” Bryce said.

“Yes, hopefully, but these are confirmed man-eaters now. They will be unpredictable. All we can do is be prepared and alert,” I said.

“Charles, as you know, lion attacks are much more frequent in Tanzania than in Kenya. I can’t even remember the last time I heard of a human being mauled by lion in Kenya,” Myles said.

“Well, you are right. You know what, though, we are close to the Tanzania border. The town of Uregi is only about 20 km from the border. These three lions could easily have crossed to the Kenya side,” I said.

“We’re only about an hour drive from Uregi,” Bryce added.

“Yep, I know. A little too close for comfort. Extra careful this morning, boys,” I said, turning away.

“Let’s go get our stuff and meet everyone back here in about 10 minutes,” I said.

“Charles, do you think we should alert our three guests about the lions?’ asked Myles.

“Well, I’ve been trying to decide how to handle that. Bryce, your thoughts?”

“You know guys, I’m thinking it might be better to not worry them about it. We are going to be extremely careful and watchful. Our three guests might not sleep and be scared to even be outside. What do you think, Charles?”

“I agree, let’s just keep it quiet. I do want us to take turns keeping watch at night. If they ask, we can say it is mostly due to the hyena attack. I’ll take the first watch tonight. Bryce, will you spell me at about 2:00am?” I asked.

“You bet Bwana K. See ya’ in 10:00,” Bryce answered as he turned to head to his tent.

“Bright eyes,” I said.

“Yes, Bwana K,” answered Makali.

“You carry gun today, ok?”

“Yes, Bwana. You carry cigarettes.”

“Yes, wind in our face,” I said.

About an hour before dawn…

It is about one hour before dawn. I was startled awake by the sound of animal cries, people screaming, and a rifle blast. I jumped from my bed, threw on my trousers and boots, grabbed my open sight .375, and ran outside not knowing what I was about to encounter. Lion, leopard..? I could tell the shot came from the area behind the dining tent. Bryce was running across the campsite toward me.

“What is it?” he yelled.

“I don’t know yet,” yelling back.

Then through the darkness we saw Makali waving his arms and running our way.

“It ok now, ok now,” he said. “Clan of hyena get in chickens Modjaji brought on hunt. They kill three, but I shoot one hyena, rest run away,” he added.

“Jaji alright?”

“Yes, Bwana. When I hear noise, I make her stay inside. She scared. She screamed. Thought simba, Bwana.” Makali said.

“Yeah, so did I,” I said.

“I’ll go check on her,” Bryce said.

“Wait, I see Myles down at her tent,” I said.

“We’re ok, Boss. Everyone’s alright,” Myles yelled to us.

“I’m going to stand guard down by the dining tent for a few minutes. Bryce, would you please go let our guests know that everything is ok?” I asked.

“Makali, go check on Jaji and Myles.” I added.

“Yes, Bwana Kifaru, ” said Makali smiling.

“Man-eaters of Masai Mara”

Walking back over to his table near the window, he opens his laptop and lets it “awaken” itself. While all of his thoughts are still fresh on his mind, he wants to outline a few details and ideas.

“Think I’ll set-up a new folder in my documents named ‘ Man-eaters’,” to himself, as he types. “Just some notes, so I don’t forget.”

Man-eaters of Masai Mara

*Dr. William Opopo.. visit location .. find a track for comparing

*Location of most recent kill .. find track

*Visit village of 1st reported attack. Ask if anyone remembers any distinguishing features or appearance of simba

*Need: Myles, Makali, Benga.. think no Modjaji. Do own cooking. Benga is a decent cook.

*2 vehicles. My Land Rover, Myles..Land Cruiser. No big truck… be able to move quickly. If need a ‘capture’ cage, might be a problem

*Might consider 2 teams.. Myles & Benga, Me & Makali. Divide and cover more area.

*Ask Myles: capturing techniques

supplies needed:

*My ‘375 and Judge

*Research shipping and transport options and costs to San Diego

“Your coffee, Bwana K,” Mohammad said, placing the cup and saucer on the table. “I made a fresh pot.”

“Thank you. Don’t think I’ll be much longer.”

“No worries, Sir. We are here late,” Mohammad said.

“Oh, I know. I’ve got to drive to the city, and I need my beauty sleep ya’ know,” Charles said with a smile.

“Yes, Bwana. I’ll check on you in a few minutes,” he replied, turning to walk back to the bar.

“Thanks again, Mohammad.”

Taking a sip, he stirs in some extra cream. To himself, “close Mohammad, close to perfect.”

Setting down the cup, he types again:

*Coffee and tea bags

*No alcohol. Not this trip.

*Video equipment

*USE MINISTER NOAH MWANGI FOR BAIT!! no, guess can’t do that..

“That’s a good start,” he says to himself.

He hits ‘save document’, finishes his last sip of coffee, and closes his laptop. He reaches for his cell phone and takes it from his belt holster. He starts dialing Miles’ number as he walks again through the doorway to the outside balcony.

“Good, a strong signal,” to himself.

“Jambo, B. K.” on the third ring.

“Wow, the magic of ‘caller ID’,” Charles replied. “Glad I caught you. You at home, or out on the town?”

“A little of both, Mate. At home now, but just leaving to meet Sheila at the Hilton,” Miles answered.

“Sheila? Do I know Sheila?” Charles asked.

“Well, you’ve met. She’s the feisty red-head I took to that banquet you talked me into last month here in Nairobi. Remember?” he asked.

“Oh, yeah. The one with the so-called gorgeous sister that never seemed to make an appearance that night, or any other night, I might add,” Charles said.

“Bwana K, always with that attention to detail, and the memory of an elephant,” Myles responded with a chuckle.

“Yeah, I guess a memory for the important details. Anyway, I know you’ve got to go, but got a quick one to run by ya’, Myles. I think it will ‘tickle your

fancy’,” Charles said.

“Well, tickle me,” he responded eagerly. “By the way, where are you?” he added.

“Mount Kenya Safari Club. I was meeting with a new client of ours,” Charles answered.

“Sweet, Chuck. It’s getting late. You staying the night?” he asked.

“Well, I actually just changed my plans. Was headin’ back to Nairobi, now I’m headed to the ‘Lodge’,” Charles said.

“Ok, I’ll bite. What’s up, Bwana?” Myles asked.

“During dinner, about 2 hours ago, Meredith called me from San Diego. I was just finishing my meeting, so I asked to call her back when I was through, about 30 minutes later. Anyway, she had a call today from a dear friend of ours, Noah Mwangi,” Charles said.

“The Minister of Wildlife?” Miles interrupted. “That son-of-a-bitch. Of course, I think I only dislike him because you do. What’s up, Mate?”

“He called her regarding the man-eaters we’ve been hearing about,” Charles answered.

“Why did he call her?” he asked.

“Kenya wants her and the San Diego Zoo to do a behavior study on the lion pride, and hopefully learn how to avoid future lion attacks,” Charles replied.

“Oh baby! I should have seen this one comin’ a mile away. I smell a lion capture. Am I right, Boss? And three? Three man-eaters? Damn, Chuck!”

Myles exclaimed.

“I know, Myles. I obligated myself. I couldn’t speak for you. It does have a hint of danger to it, doesn’t it?” Charles added.

“A hint, we’re talkin’ major ‘hatari’ (danger) here, Bwana. This is the pride that killed William Opopo. What, two male and one female?” he asked.

“The report now is one male and two lioness. There has been at least one more confirmed attack,” Charles answered. “I sure do need your expertise, Myles.”

“Oh, you bet. Put me in, Coach. It’s been at least a week since I’ve had some good danger, Bwana,” Myles answered.

“Kenya is footing the tab, and Noah wants me to put together an estimate of expenses and a basic game plan. I told Meredith I’d get it to her in a couple of days. Any chance you could meet me at the Lodge tomorrow? These lions may be killing daily,” Charles asked.

“We’ve got hunt scheduled for next week, don’t we? he asked.

“I’ve already canceled, and they are willing to let us reschedule the dates. What do ya’ think, can you come to the Lodge? I could use your help with the planning?”

“Yes. Alright, I’ll head your way in the morning. I should be there by noon,” Myles answered.

“Good. Great news. I will contact Makali. I want his input on some of this,” Charles added.

“Hey, why don’t I pick him up on the way tomorrow. I’ll go right by his village,” Myles asked.

“That will be great. Good thinking. I’ll ask him to be ready about 11:00,” he said.

“I think I’d also like Benga along, Charles,” Myles said,

“Yep. Planning on that,” he said.

“Help track and also carry some of the capture gear. He has been with me on two other ‘big cat’ captures,” Myles said.

“Again, planning on it, but I don’t think we need him in on the planning, do we?” Charles asked.

“No, I don’t think so. I tell ya’, he is fearless, and he follows directions,” Myles said.

“Yes, he sure does. You and I really need to protect him. He rarely carries a weapon.” Charles added.

“Yeah, I agree. With three lion, three killers, we’ll have to be on our game, Chuck,” Myles stated in a serious, quiet tone.

“Myles, am I crazy? Did I put us in over our heads? Can we find and capture three man-eaters?” Charles asked, solemnly.

“Bwana K, we got this! You drive safely tonight. I’ll see you by noon tomorrow,” Myles answered assuringly.

“Thanks. Ok, see ya’ tomorrow,” hanging up the phone.

Putting his phone back in his belt case, Charles takes a long final gaze at Mount Kenya bathed in moonlight, then turns to head back inside. Mohammad is clearing the empty glasses and the coffee cup from his table.

“Headed for the city, Bwana Charles?” Mohammad asks.

“No, Mohammad, there’s been a change in plans. Headin’ for my lodge north of Thomson’s Falls. Big cat problems near Masai Mara. Duty calls,” he answered.

“Oh, I heard some rumor of a lion problem,” Mohammad said.

“Well, ‘Mo’, the rumor just got personal. I’m about to put an end to it,” Bwana K answered. “Check, please!”

“Yes, Bwana. I’ll bring you a coffee to go for your drive,” he replied. “Be right back, Charles.”

“Thanks, Mo.”

“One more call,” to himself, still standing. “I’ll wait ’til I’m in the ‘Rover’.”

“Here you go Bwana Charles. The dinner is on that ticket, too,” Mohammad said.

“Fine, no worries,” handing him his credit card.

“Thank you. Be right back.”

I take a sip from the water glass still on his table, Mohammad returns.

“Your copy, Bwana K, and your coffee.”

“Thank you Mohammad. Thanks for the coffee, thanks for everything. All great as usual. Asante sana rafiki (thank you friend).”

“Karibu (you’re welcome), Bwana Kifaru. Salaam safari (safe hunt).”

“Thank you, friend,” zipping his computer bag. “See you soon,” turning and walking away.

Carrying my planner and computer bag, I leave the Tusk lounge, walk past ‘Duma’s Corner’, through the lobby and into the front parking area. I had not valet parked, this time. With firearms in the Rover, it is never a good idea to let someone unknown have access to the vehicle. Too dangerous and too valuable.

I walk to the far left side of the parking area. Today I am in my 2009 Land Rover Sport. It is gun barrel silver (how appropriate), and way too nice for where I’m about to go. I usually drive my older ‘Discovery’ into the bush, but it is parked at my office in Nairobi. Using the remote key, I unlock the doors, place my computer bag on the floor behind the driver seat, and close the door. Starting the car, the ‘Eagles’ cd I was playing when I shut off the engine almost three hours ago, starts again.

Kill number six !!!

Walking to the car, the quiet night sky is filled with gnats that are attracted by the lights in the parking area. There must be hundreds on my Rover. Quickly opening my door, I jump in, close the door, and start the engine. Locking the doors, I turn on the inside reading light over the drivers’ seat. Reaching into my glove box I take my bottle of often needed hand sanitizer and squirt a worthy amount into my hands. I rub my hands together, then put the bottle away. Holding the paper under the light, I begin to read the story.

_______________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

James Majiwa

Staff Writer

Tourist killed by lions near Lolgorien

A savage lion attack took the life of tourist yesterday near the town of Lolgorien. The deceased has been identified as Michael Bridges from the United States. Mr. Bridges and his family were on a day trip visiting the Masai Mara Game Reserve, and had reportedly stopped on the side of the road due to car trouble. The attack took place at about dusk as Mr. Bridges was beginning to change his rear tire, while his wife and two young children watched waited in the car. The lions are believed to be the same pride of three that are being credited for the death of at least six others in the last ten days. All of the attacks have been in the same 10 – 15 mile area around Lolgorien and south to Uregi. The deceased was on holiday from Tuscon, Arizona, where he was a high school professor of mathematics.

Alan Burton, Game Warden in Masai Mara Game Reserve, reported, “It was a horrible and gruesome attack. The worst part is that Mrs. Bridges and the two children witnessed the whole terrifying attack. I was told that, Mr. Bridges, knelling next to his car with his back to the bush area behind him, was making jokes to his children through the open window, when a large male lion grabbed him from behind. As he was pulled to the ground, the other two man-eaters leaped from the tall grass. Apparently killed instantly, the victim was dragged into the grass and devoured, as his family watched in horror from the safety of their disabled car. Unable to go for help, they could only wait until the lions left and a good samaritan finally stopped to help.”

Signs and warnings have been posted in the area, and local residents and visitors are being warned of the serious danger.

_________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Reaching up, I turn off the reading light, fold the newspaper, and place it on the passenger seat.

“Oh, my God. Kill number six. We’ve got to end this!” I exclaimed out loud.

The call for help ..

It’s 7:30 Thursday morning. The phone is ringing as Dr. Meredith Henley walked into her office at the San Diego Zoo. It is the Minister of Forestry and Wildlife from Nairobi.

“Good morning. Meredith Henley, may I help you?” she said.

“Dr. Henley, good morning. Noah Mwangi, from Nairobi,” he answered. “How are you?” he asked.

“Oh, good morning, or I should say, good afternoon in Kenya. Good to hear from you, Minister. Hope you are well, and how can I help you?” Meredith answers.

“Meredith, you may have read that we have a bit of a lion problem in the southwest region. We have confirmed five deaths from lion attacks in the last three weeks. We believe it is the same pride of three lions that are responsible. The most recent mauling happened just two days ago. Two employees in my department who were doing some field work in the southwest sector were attacked and killed. One was a Field Veterinarian and friend of mine, Dr. William Apopo. He is survived by his wife and four children. What a horrible, horrible death. I can’t even imagine the horror. They are man-eaters,” he said.

“Oh my God, Noah. I know Bill Apopo. I’m stunned. I don’t know what to say. How horrible. I have heard only some general details about the attacks. Is it true they are all in the same area, just west of the Masai Mara Game Preserve?” she asked.

“That is true. We think the three lions have migrated over the border probably pushed north by poachers in northern Tanzania,” he answered.

“The story I read was not real clear. Is it reported to be two male and a female?” Meredith asked.

“No, eye witnesses have confirmed it to be one large male and two female. They are definitely hunting as a team and preying on humans,” he replied. The last attack has made this personal, Meredith. They must be stopped,” he added.

“Well, what can I do to help, Noah?” Meredith asked.