Magazine article The Spectator

Taking on Cattle Raiders with a Macbook Pro

Magazine article The Spectator

Taking on Cattle Raiders with a Macbook Pro

Article excerpt

One of my reasons for coming to Kenya was to visit Tango Maus, the farm of Spectator 'Wild life' columnist Aidan Hartley.

I 've read so much about this mystical place -the skirmishes with the local elephant population, the troublesome livestock, the Gunga Din-like farm manager - that I was dying to see it. And having spent last weekend there, I 'm happy to say it doesn't disappoint.

F irst, there's the drive. When Aidan describes the farm as 'remote' he's not exaggerating.

I don't think I 've ever travelled through more inhospitable terrain. The last part was the worst - a 100-mile crawl along a track that's so threadbare it frequently disappears altogether. This is in the heart of the African bush, mind you, so at any moment you might be charged by a rhino or mauled by a lion.

To add to my anxiety, Aidan had gone on ahead in a different vehicle, leaving me with some cursory directions. He'd assured me the drive would take three hours at most and I 'd set off after lunch with my wife and family, confident of arriving for an afternoon swim.

F our and a half hours later, with the sun sinking below the horizon, I was beginning to panic. Had I gone wrong? There was no mobile phone reception so calling for help was out of the question.

I just had to soldier on and hope we got there before dark.

DAVE M I CH A E L H I

n the end we made it, but that didn't mean we were out of danger.

F ar from it. At about 10.30 p. m. that evening, in the middle of a very drunken meal, I heard two loud bangs in quick succession.

' I s that gunshots?'

I asked.

Seconds later, the faithful farm manager appeared - out of breath from running - and told Aidan that some bandits were trying to steal his cows. They were armed with rifles and had already opened fire.

' I t's a cattle raid!' said Aidan, staggering to his feet and trying to shake off the effects of the alcohol.

'Let's go.'

I thought he was talking to me - and I was eager to see the action close up - but when I rose to follow him he placed a restraining hand on my shoulder.

'You'd better stay here, ' he muttered.

I protested, saying I was perfectly capable of looking after myself. But I 'd got the wrong end of the stick.

' I t's not you I 'm worried about, ' he said. …

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