Walking With Maison: Part 4
“I was in Nairobi Maison, and I love seeing the Maasai with their cattle on the four way highways.” Maison smiles.
“We love our cows. If a Maasai man came to see you in America and there was a cow he would say that is mine, why do you have my cow?”
“And if another tribe’s god tells them that all the cows actually belong to them and not the Maasai.”
“Then their god is wrong James. The cows are ours.” Maison says this with a smile, but he clearly means it.
We are on the road now and ahead the two big buffalo that I saw yesterday are there again.
“We go this way.”
Maison has taught me that if a buffalo charges you climb the nearest tree and when we are in the plain if they charge you lie down still on the ground. Maison has taught me that when the lion charges crouch down and again they will stop. I believe that lying flat will confuse a buffalo, but I am not sure about the lion.
“The Maasai believe that the lion only eats bad people so you will crouch down and then the lion will leave you be because you are a good man.”
“What if the lion knows something you don’t Maison?”
“Then the lion will eat you.”
Maison has taught me that the scat of the hyena is white from the bone and how to tell the different kind of eagles apart. From a quarter mile away I see an eagle sitting as we walk and know it is a fish eagle and Maison says yes I am right.
When Maison is with the white guides who guide the white tourists and he is the man with the gun to protect them, he never corrects the South African guides who are here on contract or the guides whose parents were missionaries and decided to stay. Those guides have to pull out their binoculars that hand around their necks or consult the bird books that are in the cars.
Maison just looks – maybe once in a while he squints to see a bit better but usually he just looks and stares and knows whether it is a fish eagle or a marshall eagle or brown eagle.
“Is that, that one there?” The white guide is flipping through his book as Maison gives the answer politely but with a bit of a point.
“Fish eagle. That is a fish eagle.” The white guide will wonder how Maison can be so sure – the white guide doesn’t know that when Maison was a boy they would come here when the fish eagles were in that tree. And when Maison was on patrol with the ranger group the fish eagles were there or how the other eagles go farther up on the ridge toward the airstrip because that tree, that tree is for the fish eagles. If you asked Maison, he would be able to tell you before you came up from the riverbed that you were about to see the tree with the fish eagles in it.
The smarter guides, the better guides, they know that and they let Maison be the one with the answers but the ones who just come on their contracts and feel they have something to prove pull out their East African bird books and their binoculars and have to wonder and guess what Maison already knows.
Maison has taught me how to tell if a track is from last night or the night before by how much of the soft fine red dirt of the Mara has fallen into the track. When I see a leopard track on the path we are walking.
“Last night eh Maison?” He kneels down.
“Because the rangers drive this road every night and they haven’t driven over it. Small leopard, female, maybe she would be in those trees now.” I point to the hill near us where the green trees are taller than anything on the plain.
“I think you are right James.” Maison stands up.
“If you saw a leopard in a tree would they come after you?”
“No they would not. You just walk slowly away from them.” Maison once told me of a day like this hot on the plains when he was on patrol in Mara North where the Kenajin tribe comes up from the Reserve to poach game meat. Maasai do not eat game meat, not even in the worst of droughts but the other tribes come into their territory and set the wire snares by the water holes that catch the impalas and the bushbucks that they then sell in the markets. The snares catch the leopards and the lions too but the other tribes do not care. On a hot day like this Maison slept underneath a tree in the shade in the afternoon and woke to see a leopard looking down at him and he looking up at the leopard and he just shook off the dust and picked up his gun and let the duma go on his way and the duma let him be and all was fine.
“The leopard near Encounter Mara is a good leopard.” Maison says.
“Osirata?” I ask. Yes he nods. Leopards are so precious that each of the twenty seven who live in Naboisho are named.
“That is a good leopard. She has had cubs and then she will be a good mother but her last set of cubs was eaten but she will have more and she lies on the hill and she is a good leopard.”
“Do the Maasai respect the leopard like they do the lion?”
“Yes but they do not like the animals that kill the cow but they like the leopard and the lion, they are most scared of the buffalo.”
“What happened with the lion in the reserve that were poisoned?”
“Very bad thing. Maasai do not like to kill any living animal but 10% of the Maasai they are crazy and they put out a poisoned cow carcass and they killed the lions.”
Maison doesn’t mention that the lions supposedly killed cows from a herd that belonged to the Governor of the region and the MP and that unlike the ambulance that was stopped with ivory in it as it headed to Narok, no one will turn the people in who killed the lions who killed the Governor’s cows.
This story was written by James Cannon Boyce, who has contributed to Longevity before. Keep an eye out for part 5 of 6 in the “Walking with Maison” series.
To read the Full Story of “Walking With Maison” Download the Free PDF here.
“Walking The Earth is a literary expedition whose goal it is to shine a light on people worth supporting and places worth saving around the world. For this story, I stayed with The Maa Trust, in the Olare Motorogi Conservancy in the Mara region of Kenya. I have also worked with the neighboring Naboisho Conservancy. Maison is a friend of mine who was a ranger with the Kenya Wildlife Service and now is an armed safari guide who works with Encounter Mara. He lives in Aitong.
I hope that if you liked this story, you will consider asking your friends to go to WalkingThe.Earth and support The Maa Trust by purchasing it. You can also perhaps visit The Maa Trust on Facebook or their website to see everything they are doing.”