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15 Aug, 2022
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The Good Safaritans

The Good Safaritans!- Article by Gareth Jones

The Good Safaritans Of The Nairobi National Park!

One thing that has always touched me in life, is when people help those in need, especially when they expect nothing in return. Many people know the biblical parable of the good Samaritan who helped a wounded stranger in need (however in the African bush, I tend to use the words “the good safaritan” for those people who help others in need while in the bush). The question we all need to ask ourselves in this current time is, are we good Safaritans? What on earth do I mean by that? When people travel in the bush, they are often not prepared, and sometimes inexperienced for whatever could happen while away from the City. Many people who live in the city are simply not used to any venturing off tar roads and are therefore mostly ill-equipped for any vehicle moments that involve getting stuck on roads or tracks or having a breakdown.

Many examples of people being rescued have happened over the years, mostly due to seasonal heavy rains. Many people have been stuck in many places, due to flooding and particularly in very thick sticky “black cotton” mud. The notorious “black cotton” mud is volcanic clay based soil that has various stages, ranging from the initial slippery “soapy” stage to the “sticky toffee” stage to the thick bog “glue goo” stage. KWS sometimes actually need to use a tractor to pull some people out, however, thankfully there is also a dedicated group of regular members of FONNAP (Friends of Nairobi National Park) who are well prepared for most situations. Plus many of the safari tour van drivers and regular private individuals are well prepared for most situations. It is great to be part of these groups, as we often coordinate through social media to pull stuck vehicles out of the mud, using practical experience. Those who help sometimes become covered in mud, but they don’t complain, instead they are just glad to be able to help, without expecting anything in return, this is what defines being a true good Safaritan.

During the recent rainy season, I was driving near the Karen Primary dam in the Nairobi National Park, when I noticed a person on the opposite hill above the dam waving his arms desperately. On closer inspection the person shouted that they were stuck in the mud. The place they were stuck, is a well known “boggy zone” in the wet season located on the back-track between the Karen primary dam and junction No6. As I approached my observation was that the vehicle was a small Toyota saloon car that had driven directly into the bog. Thankfully, the saloon car was not deep into the bog and I was able to position my vehicle on a relatively solid patch of ground and attach a long steel cable rope to the saloon car. Thankfully the driver of the saloon car was also able to engage reverse as I engaged low gear 4×4 to slowly pull the vehicle out of the “boggy zone”. The people in the vehicle were international visitors and were very relieved to be unstuck, as they kept on thanking me. Even though I drove away covered in mud, the warm “care feeling” I had in my heart after successfully helping them was unforgettable.

Are you prepared for any bush incident? Do you have equipment like a hi-lift jack, a mud mat, electric winch rope, towropes above 5 ton capacity, flashlights, water, a park map or a First Aid kit in your vehicle? If you are prepared and ready to help others, it would also be very useful if those that have rescue equipment know how to use it properly. Why not be a person who can turn a negative event into a rescue adventure? However, if the situation is beyond the ability of the rescue vehicle or involves dangerous wildlife, then it is best to rather call the Kenya Wildlife Service to assist in the rescue, there are many wonderful people who work for KWS who have been involved in being good safaritans.

Going to the Nairobi National Park can be a great outing, however, it is best to avoid going in vehicles that are not suited for rough road driving. In the dry season normal saloon cars can navigate most of the main roads, but when there is serious rainfall most tracks and many roads become very muddy and un-drivable, except if using a 4×4 vehicle. It should be noted that even 4×4 vehicles cannot drive on some roads under mud flood conditions. When a vehicle has a breakdown or gets stuck in the mud the people in that particular vehicle usually feel helpless and perhaps frustrated when they cannot move at all. It is well worth the effort to be involved in a rescue moment, especially afterwards when you see the relieved and joyful look on the faces of the people who were rescued as they are finally set free from being stuck. In life it is always good to plan to be prepared to help others, we never know when we will also need someone to help us! As the year 2021 ends, pray we all be prepared to help those in need, irrespective of wherever we find them throughout parts of wild Africa, as we prepare for 2022 and onwards. Take care out there!

It is good to have the KWS contact numbers for the Nairobi National Park should there be a rescue need requiring assistance. The contact hotline numbers are – 0800597000 or 08002215566 or 0202587435 or 0729125502 or 0728331981!

 

The Good SafaritansGareth Jones – A passionate writer & photographer

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