After many more days of glassing from our elevated lookout spots in East Africa's Frontier District, I felt pretty sure we'd seen every elephant in the area, and there was no sign of the grand old bull groups we'd hoped to find. They were obviously somewhere else, and so we returned to camp to make another plan. The time had come to move on to new country, and I gave instructions to the staff to assemble a light fly camp along with some provisions to last a couple of weeks away from our base camp.
Early the next morning, after loading camp equipment and provisions on the camels, we bid farewell to the men who would remain at base camp and set off into the unknown. The hunting party, comprised of Bob and myself together with the trackers and grooms, mounted up while the rest of the crew walked with the camels some distance to the rear. Setting off for new country we felt as free as the wind.
We skirted the foothills of the brooding Matthews range for most of that day trying to steer clear of thick bush as much as possible in order to avoid disturbing any rhinos that might be laid up in the shade. To draw the charge of an enraged rhino was the last thing we wanted. Leaving the shady bush to the rhinos, the sun beat down on us mercilessly. We saw few elephant, but marveled at how trusting other game – Oryx Beisa, Gerenuk, Grant's Gazelle, Grevy's Zebra, Lesser Kudu and Reticulated Giraffe – were of our caravan, obviously at ease with the Samburu livestock. Dainty little Dik Dik darted from one shrub to another sometimes passing between our lines of animals.
We potted a few guinea fowl and spur-fowl with the Browning .22 rifle (see sidebar) that I'd brought along for that purpose, and when passing through an area where elephant were unlikely to be, Bob shot a Grant's gazelle for the staff. To avoid disturbing the area while hunting elephant, we restricted ourselves to shooting at only camp meat and a few birds for our diet.
By mid-afternoon our caravan reached Irere, a dry river bed reputed by the Samburu to be favored by old elephant bulls. There the men cut bush and built a strong boma (thorn-bush fence), more to keep our animals from straying at night than to keep any predators out. Our little fly camp was very basic and set up next to the boma. It was amazing how comfortable our little fly camp was, yet skilled safari hands packed only the essentials transported on the backs of camels. We remained at Irere for several days without finding even an old track of the supposed huge tuskers reputed to live there. It was the same old story, with the presence of mostly breeding herds, and not even that many of them in this new area....