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The Ewaso Nyiro passing through Shaba National Reserve in 2011. (Image Credit: Marc Samsom / Flickr

The Ewaso Nyiro passing through Shaba National Reserve in 2011. (Image Credit: Marc Samsom / Flickr

The Ewaso Nyiro River dried up completely in February here in Samburu. Some stretches near Westgate still had a few pools of water but by the end of February, these were totally dry. We saw elephants and other wildlife dig for water but as the dry spell continued, the water levels were so low, that water was harder to come by.

Ewaso Lions, together with Warriors from Warrior Watch, ladies from Mama Simba, partnered with Westgate Conservancy rangers and dug 6 large waterholes in the dry river. Over the following days, we saw numerous wildlife species drink from the holes.

On the 22nd of March, we finally saw rain in the distance and even got a few drops.  But the river did not flow.

Finally, on the 23rd of March, our Lion Scout, Francis, called us when we were in the park and said he had seen the river come passed our camp! We then communicated with lodges in the park and quickly estimated the time it would take for the water to arrive where we were in Samburu’s famous Daraja ya Wire area. Finally at 10:50 am, the water came in a large sheet.

We expected a small trickle but here was this huge body of water coming at a surprisingly fast speed. Initially, some of the wildlife were scared of the water and leaped away – but the waterbuck jumped straight in. One giraffe came down to the river and drank for over half an hour continuously. Grevy’s zebra, impala, oryx, waterbuck and giraffe all stayed close by – coming down to drink and then returning to the banks of the river.  We also watched hundreds of swallows come out and swoop low as the river was flowing. It was a beautiful sight.

The following day, the water levels were much lower but still flowing. We also saw hippo tracks – a very rare site here! We have one hippo we would sometimes see in Samburu and we were surprised to see his tracks all over the road. The arrival of the river had brought many wildlife species including ones we did not expect to see!

(This post originally appeared on Ewaso Lions. It has been reprinted here with permission.)

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