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The semi-arid  country of Northern Kenya, framed by volcanic mountain ranges and dotted  with lakes, each unique. Throughout the region, rare animals abound; the  Reticulated Giraffe, Beisa Oryx, Grevy's Zebra, and long-necked Gerenuk.  Adjacent to this area is the beautiful Meru National Park home of Elsa  the Lioness befriended by Joy and George Adamson and featured in Joy's  Book and the film, Born Free. On the fringe of the hot and sparsely populated northern region of  Kenya lies a small oasis, the Samburu Game Reserve. Samburu  and Buffalo Springs provide a different face of Africa in a hot semi-arid  desert area, before the true desert stretches away to the north. It is  a favorite spot for many returning visitors to Kenya. There are a number  of unique wildlife species rarely found elsewhere in Kenya: the Gravy  zebra, the Beise oryx, the blue-shanked Somali ostrich, the reticulated  giraffe, and the shy, long necked gerenuk (the antelope giraffe).

Distinctive hills and mountains, interrupted by the Doum Palms, characterize  the area where the lifeline for human and animal inhabitants is the sluggish  Ewaso Nyiro River, with its large population of hippos and crocodiles  nestled along the shady river edge. Shaba National Reserve is adjacent  to Buffalo Springs Game Reserve immediately across the river. This was  the home for many years of the authoress and naturalist, Joy Adamson,  and her beloved lioness, Eisa. Further to the north is the Chalbi Desert. Beyond that is Lake Turkana  known as "The Jade Sea". On its eastern shore, at Koobi Fora  in Sibiloi National Park, fossils relating to the origin of man were discovered.  Meru, to the south, contains the widest range of mountain landscapes and  wildlife habitats. This was the home of Elsa, the lioness whose story  was told in the book and subsequent film, savanna, Free.

With its forest, swamp and savanna, and fifteen rivers, Meru contains  a wide variety of wildlife, in huge quantities, including all the Big  Five - elephant, rhino, buffalo, lion and leopard. Samburu National Reserve lies 325 km north of Nairobi in the hot and  arid fringes of the vast northern region of Kenya. The Reserve is within  the lands of the colorful Samburu people, close relatives of the Maasai,  and harbors a number of wildlife species rarely found elsewhere in any  numbers. These include Grevy's zebra, the reticulated giraffe and the  Beisa oryx, all species found only north of the equator. The long-necked  gerenuk is a graceful antelope which spends much of its time in a bi-pedal  stanceseeking succulence among the withered scrub which dots this harsh  terrain. Scenically and faunally dramatic, for most of the year Samburu  is sere under the unsympathetic equatorial sun. But relief comes from  the wide swathe of the Ewaso Ngiro river which rises some hundreds of  kilometers to the west on the foothills of the Aberdares and which vanishes  beyond Samburu in the recesses of the Lorian swamp.

The river is at its best in the Reserve, broad and sluggish with a  large population of crocodile seen on sandbanks at almost every bend.  In the lower reaches, where permanent pools have formed a tributary joining  the river, are hippo. The river is fringed with giant acacias, figs and  doum palms all of which provide shade and sustenance to the wildlife which  comes to water. Elephant roam the gaunt hills which punctuate the scrubland  and where occasional clusters of the vividly colored desert rose challenge  the arid surroundings. These elephant seek solace and contentment in the  shallow waters of the river and from time to time a visitor finds herds  bathing and drinking in a spectacle of unconscious pleasure.

Buffalo Springs National Reserve is separated from the Samburu Reserve  by the river; less hilly and less dense than its neighbor it is equally  as attractive. The Reserve takes its name from an oasis of limpid crystal  clear water at the western end of the sanctuary. In addition to the wildlife  found in Samburu the common zebra is also an attraction often marching  with it's cousin the Grevy, although they do not interbreed. An unexplained  phenomenon is why the common zebra is not found on the north side of the  river. Birdlife, too, is prolific with the Somali ostrich dominating the  plains. Larger than its southern relative the Maasai ostrich it is more  easily distinguished by its indigo legs and neck. Next in size is the  kori bustard who stands a meter high. His behavior is unpredictable, at  times running or crouching at the first sign of danger and at others completely  fearless of humans. The male has a remarkable display inflating his neck  and neck feathers until the head seems to disappear then raising his tail  until it lies along his back.

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