Mara Watch 2009
Thank you to everyone who attended to the Royal Geographical Society (RGS) last Tuesday night (08 December) to support our Mara Watch event, in conjunction with Travel Africa magazine.
For me, it was an absolute pleasure watching the one and only Mr Goldstein being paraded on stage in front of a 450+ partisan crowd and being made to wear a photographer's safari jacket. For those of you who don't know, Paul famously set fire to one at his camp after branding it 'a nonsense'.
The evening was a tremendous success. As usual the verbal sparring was spot on, Paul was introduced by award-winning journalist Chris Haslam, who to everyone's amusement was quick to remind Paul of a quote he made to Wanderlust only a year earlier that the Kapitan Khlebnikov was the only ship that could power through pack ice. He also touched on how much the story had gripped the imagination of the media, and the palpable disappointment when it was realised that the clients were not going to have to eat each other to survive.
Paul was then interviewed by Simon Calder over what makes a great safari. Drinking sundowners or a lie in followed by a lazy breakfast are definitely not on the agenda if you book onto one of Paul's Photographic safaris. Paul then ran through a selection of amazing photographs, the majority of them taken this year, focussing on cheetah, lion, and leopard and of course the migration. Many of these shots were taken close to Kicheche, the camp used by Exodus in the Mara.
Then it was onto the charity auction, with lots generously donated by Virgin, Swarovski, Longleat, Camden Roundhouse, Simon Calder, Chris Haslam, Kenyan Airways and Kicheche Camp. Altogether the evening raised a staggering £16,000 which included sales of Paul Goldstein’s book "Dotted Plains, Spotted Game" as well as signed prints.
These fund raising evenings are great fun, but they have a serious side in that they raise funds for projects that matter a lot. Exodus has raised this money for Sipayei Orphanage which is in Narok, the main town on the outskirts of the Mara, and any drive-in group can spend time here. It can take up to 70 orphans but it needs a new girls dormitory, new raw materials for outside, landscaping and more critically a vehicle so they can pick up orphans from further a field.
Another new project for 2010 will be 'Mara Spring' which should eventually be a self funding affair. There is sweet drinking water on Mt Kipileo on the Lemek escarpment in the northern Mara. Currently every lodge and camp (around 80 in total) gets its bottled drinking water from Nairobi which is unnecessary. We want to set up a bottling plant on the Mountain with a re-cycling plant next door which should employ around 30 people (including females who normally get a rough deal in the Mara). This is a sustainable project which will benefit everyone and one that we and all our clients will hopefully support wholeheartedly.
I'm sure everyone there last week had a fantastic evening, with some stunning photography and good company all within the wonderful setting of the world-famous RGS in Kensington.
Thank you again to those who attended.
Due to popular demand, we have just added extra departures of our Photographic Safari for 2010, please click on the link below for full details.