The following is taken from the personal diary of Atieno Jabari, Lead Warden of Marsabit National Reserve (1972-84):
I fear for the safety of Tonto. I have not seen him for 3 days now, although his behavioural patters have been growing increasingly erratic; I could usually rely on him to collect his weekly food drop. Since being ousted from his troop by a new buck on the scene, Tonto has taken to roaming the reserve alone. It makes me sad and worried, and yet I know that this is the way of the world. It is not fair and yet it must be, in the natural world (as is sometimes the case in our own human world) the powerful wield their strength will little regard for lesser individuals. And so it is that, after leading his troop through famine and the threat of invading predators, Tonto finds himself alone.
I have grown tired of waiting for Tonto to return, it may sound ridiculous, but I feel compelled to venture into the forest to search for him. Nearly a week has passed, if he doesn’t find food soon he will surely die. More importantly he needs to socialise. To go from living with his troop, assessing signs of danger, sourcing food and attending to his females to simply fending for himself is a hard change for any
man beast. This is why I must find him more than anything, to remind him that there is someone who still needs him, that his life is not without purpose. I will head in to the great forest at dawn and search for his tracks and other tell tale signs of his whereabouts. Tonto has always been a little destructive, leaving claw and scratch marks to mark his territory. Then again, there is nothing wrong with a little aggression, in certain situations it is more than warranted.
It has been tiring searching for Tonto, his marks seem to be everywhere I go yet his tracks are no where to be seen. My fresh water is beginning to run low, and fire wood is beginning to run low. Although temperatures must be running into the forties, inside the great forest moisture hangs heavy in the air, dampening the underbrush and making it impossible to find dry tinder. I should have brought supplies and more protective equipment, but I was in a rush when I left – not thinking straight. Gloves would have been useful, I’m starting to graze my knuckles and the tips of fingers are bloody – must be from hacking away the mangroves. Today I am thinking of my family, I do not know why – I must find Tonto.
I’m not going back. Tonto is dead. I have not found his body, but I know it in my heart. No man can survive without the love of his family, just like no beast can survive without water. The claw marks have been leading me in circles, and they have started to be embedded deeper and deeper into the trees. The troop found me today, marking my territory in the great forest – they want me to stay with them. It is not as simple as this though – I must prove myself – I must challenge the male.…