Surrounded (trapped in camper)

The lightning has knocked out our electricity, there is no light. Myles uses his flashlight and finds the switch to turn on the interior lights. We have light. Using battery power we probably have 3 – 4 hours before it is dead. To switch to generator power, I’d have to go outside and remove it from the storage hatch and fire it up. Not a very safe idea right now. Jacob helps Benga to a seat at the dining table. He is shivering and visibly shaken-up. The sound of hail hammering the camper is deafening.
“Watch your head, Jacob. This thing only has a 6 1/2 foot ceiling. It is too small for five people.”
“Well, thank goodness we could get inside as quickly as we did. Crowded or not, it’s all we have to protect us,” Jacob answers. He starts helping Benga.
In a whisper, “Awabariki, Makali (bless you). Shukrani, (thank you) Bwana Kifaru.”
I reach out and touch his hand, “Wewe ni kuwakaribisha rafiki yangu (you are welcome, my friend).”
Makali simply lays his hand on Bengas’ face and smiles into his eyes.
“Hold still, Benga. I’m afraid this is going to hurt.” Jacob, wrapping his hand in a towel, pulls the glass from his shoulder. It is deeper than it first appeared and is bleeding badly.
“Chuck, where is your first aid kit?”
“In my black duffel bag in the front seat. I’ll get it.” I glance out the side window and don’t see the simba. I hand the bag to Jacob.
“Miles, put pressure on this while I get some bandages ready.”
Jacob rips open a package of gauze and finds the surgical tape. A mighty thunder blast rattles the camper. The cabinet over the refrigerator opens from the shaking and a cup shatters on the floor. We all jump from the noise.
“Sorry, I need to tear your shirt.”
“Ok, Bwana. Asante.”
“You’re welcome. Looks like the bleeding is stopping. Let me clean it first with this antiseptic. You may need some stitches, it’s pretty deep. Benga, I’m making a large gauze patch – now taping it down. Here, use this towel to clean your face. There ya’ go. Good job being prepared Chuck.”
“We always carry a first aid kit. It’s come in handy more than once.”
The continuous illuminating by lightning strikes is like constant flashbulbs going off all around us. This 25′ Iveco Discoverer 4 camper is only 7 ft wide and has windows on all four sides. The windows are 5 feet off the ground. The largest is a double window over the table and chairs where Jacob is tending to Benga. It is facing the wind and is taking some direct hits from the hail stones that are now noticeably larger. The light flashes are almost blinding and the power of the wind is rocking the camper.
“Watch out for the big window, it may explode! Myles and Makali, pick a smaller window and look for the killers.”
“I’ve got this back window, Makali.”
“Me take this one.”
“I’ll take the front windshield,” as I slide into the passenger seat in the cab.
The lightning flashes have slowed to one about every 6 seconds. The rain continues to fall in sheets. Between the flashes, I see nothing from my vantage point but the flooding ground in front of the camper.

“Bwana, big male simba near cage! Cage have much water around, but she simba ok. Now he gone Bwana.”
“Miles, watch for that big male. Do you see “one-eyed” female?”
“No, Chuck. I’ve got nothing.”
“There he is! He’s coming around camper toward you, Miles!”
“Ok. I’m watching. Nothing yet!”
“Bwana, one eye simba! There is one eye simba! She run toward you, Bwana Miles.”
“Yeah, see ’em both. They both just ran by my back window.”
“Got them up here! Now they’re heading back toward you Miles. What are they doing?”
Makali stands and steps away from his side window vantage point. He looks directly at me. (This is only the second time that I have witnessed fear in his eyes.) In a soft but firm voice, “Bwana, simba are circling us. They surround us, Bwana.”
Benga jumps to his feet and yells, “They attack us, Bwana! They prepare attack, Bwana.”
“Oh my God, Chuck. They are searching for a way to get to us!”
“Jacob, my friend, did you bring a weapon?”
“It’s in my truck. I’m sorry!”
“Here, Mate. Take my .375. I’ve got my 12 gauge. If anything happens, it will be at close range.”
“Thanks, Myles,” taking the rifle and facing the other side window.
“Good idea for all of us to lock and load! Benjamin, do you have your rifle?”
“Yes Charles, right here – and it’s loaded.”
“Tranquilizer gun?”
“It’s leaning against the wall, right here.”
“Loaded?”
“Yes, Charles.”
“Benga – do you feel well enough to hold your rifle?”
“Yes, Bwana K. Me stay near this window.”
“Everyone, we are in tight quarters. Stay alert and watch all sides. Point those guns always toward the windows – away from each other,” screaming to be heard over the sound of the hail hammering the camper.

Turning to return to my post at the front window, there is another booming thunder clap, and the camper seems to almost elevate from a powerful wind gust. There is a deafening explosion from near overhead. I am knocked off my feet and thrown against the wall close to the driver compartment. Benga falls out of his seat and yells in pain. I see Jacob slam into the refrigerator. His impact shakes open the cabinet and a whole stack of plates hit the floor. The interior lights flash off momentarily, then back on. The explosion is followed by a blinding flash of light. The air is filled with sparks and flying debris. Through the front window, I see a large acacia tree engulfed in flames and falling toward the camper.

“Watch out!” is all I have time to scream.

There is a violent crash and a sound similar to a bomb detonating over our heads. The flaming tree slams into the roof of the camper throwing us all to the floor. The three ceiling lights in the front and mid section of camper flash and short-out. A giant limb extending from the tree trunk like a sword, stabs through the ceiling as if it were made of paper, barely missing Benga, breaking the table in half, and planting its jagged point 6 inches into the floor. The large limb must be a foot around and is blocking a clear path to the door. The ceiling has been ripped open and the large acacia limb, still smoldering, is steaming and filling the camper with musty smelling smoke. Rain water is pouring in. The gash is about five feet long and at least a foot wide. I jump to my feet. There are two small lights still providing a small amount of light in the back window area. Remarkably, no one seems to be hurt. Benjamin is standing and helping Makali to his feet. There are several other gashes in the ceiling from the impact, and large amounts of rain are beginning to flow into the camper from these holes. The roof has been crushed down about a foot from the trees’ weight, and the floor is covered with pieces of shattered branches, wet leaves, and chips of still sizzling tree bark. The continuous flood of rain instantly extinguished the flame engulfed tree. I take a step forward and offer my hand to help Myles stand. Before I can reach him, there is a violent collision against the right side of the camper near the door. Myles jumps to his feet and moves toward the side window. “I can’t see! I can’t see! Throw me that flashlight..” – another booming impact to the side of the camper.
“Chuck, Chuck, it’s the big male! He’s trying to get in!” he yells.
“Myles, make sure that door is secure! Jacob, you ok?” I asked.
“Yeah. One of those limbs gave my arm a pretty good cut, but we’re ok.”
“Where’s the female, Myles?” Benjamin screams, pointing his flashlight out the side window.
“Don’t see it – here comes the male again. Oh shit – he just spotted me! Oh my God! Oh my God! Look out!”

Advertisements

“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.

“Six eyes watching from the darkness.”

After dinner, Dr. Apopo tries to use his satellite connect with his laptop, but can’t get a strong enough signal. His report will have to wait until tomorrow. For safety, the decision is made to build the fire much larger before they retire to the truck. In the darkness, without a flashlight, they walk together toward the acacia tree. There is no moon tonight, but the light from the fire provides enough light to see their way through the grass.

Six eyes watching from the darkness. Lured by the odor of cooking meat, waiting in the tall grass. Six hungry eyes, hunting as a team. One massive, full maned, male, and two female. Driven north out of Tanzania by poachers and civilization, they have learned that man is an easy meal. This will be their fourth ‘man kill’.

The pride silently moves through the grass. Stalking Dr. Apopo, the male and one female move slowly toward the fallen acacia tree. The male simba crawls about 5 yards past the tree to have a side angle at its’ prey. The third lion has moved around behind Ogwambi. The men approach the tree. Dr Apopo is three steps ahead and the first to reach for some firewood.

It is said, that a lion can move in total silence, but as it makes a close range charge, you can hear the chilling grunting sound as it leaps for its victim. Dr. Apopo had this 2 second warning as the female came from his front leaping toward his chest, knocking him down, locking her jaws on this midsection and thrusting downward with her hind claws. The male immediately was on him from his right grabbing him by the throat and breaking his neck.

Knocking him down, she threw him to one side by his shoulder. Trying to get up, the female was on his back. Ogwambi’s last vision was the massive male coming for his face. The huge simba tossed Ogwambi’s detached head into the bushes. It was quick. It was easy.