Tag Archives: Athi

Volunteering with Simon

Thank you so much to those who have generously donated to Rosy. The funds will go towards getting him the care that he needs to make a full recovery. Any further donations over the coming weeks will also be used to this end. While Simon is rushing around Nairobi trying to sort out Rosy’s operation, let me introduce myself…

I first met Simon when I volunteered to work with him in Athi River, helping him to look after the birds. I suppose I shouldn’t really mention the fact that he failed to turn up at Nairobi airport to pick me up as promised due to a slight run-in with the police (expired insurance). And perhaps it should remain unsaid that, that same day, he had managed to annoy quite a few people by pulling out some gum trees (“damn exotics”).

Simon with Duchess, who is posturing because I am there.

However, his unusual character aside, he did make sure I was picked up at the airport despite his “arrest,” and also made sure that not one moment of my stay with him was boring. Incidents that come to mind include hiding up a tree from a charging buffalo, almost backing the jeep into a bull elephant (this one was my doing), lessons in paragliding and many more. If he had not crashed his aeroplane earlier, he assures me I would have learned to fly as well.

The highlights were not the brushes with danger, though those were fun. The best moments were the times with the birds. I remember all too clearly the words that Simon said to me on my first day with him: “One mistake, and the bird could die.” Tim, a young injured Lanner Falcon, had just been brought to Simon and was perched in his living room. As we were introduced, Simon informed me that I would be training Tim, getting him ready to be released back to the wild. I was terrified that I would make that fatal mistake. But from the first time that Tim sat on my fist, I was hooked. And by the time I saw him flying free, watching him as he made his first attempts at catching his own prey, there was no going back.

Flying Tim