Editor’s Note
East Africa is not the first place most wingshooters think of for an African bird safari, but Senior Correspondent Gary Kramer says Kenya is a good alternative to the shooting destinations further south. He recently traveled there to check out the hunting opportunity. Here’s what Kramer found.

For many years, Africa has been the domain of the big game hunter, but not so any longer. In recent years the increasing demand for wingshooting has lead more and more African operators to offer stand-alone bird shooting safaris. As reported in past issues, most of these operators are located in southern Africa, particularly South Africa and Botswana. Less well known are the bird shooting operators in East Africa, specifically Kenya. In the case of Kenya, many people know that big game hunting is closed and mistakenly assume that bird shooting is unavailable as well. While big game hunting was closed in this country in1977, game birds and waterfowl remain legal quarry.

I recently returned from a 10-day bird shooting and game viewing safari in Kenya where I hunted with Bateleur Safaris (PO Box 42562, Nairobi, Kenya; tel. 011-252-2-4890454; e-mail: bateleursafaris@swiftkenya.com; web site: www.bateleursafris.com), owned and operated by Michael Cheffings. Cheffings is a second-generation professional hunter whose father, Joe Cheffings, was a well-known PH during the hey day of big game hunting in Kenya. For the past seven years, Cheffings has offered bird shooting safaris in two regions. The first is the area we hunted - the Olgulalui region of Masailand about 100 miles south of Nairobi on the boundary of Amboseli National Park.

The trips are conducted in the grand African style with Mt. Kilimanjaro as your backdrop and the sights and sounds of Africa just outside your tent. The beaters and helpers are all Masai who still wear the traditional dress. The weather during September and October is dry and can be hot during the day but cools off at night due to the 3,500-foot elevation of the camp. In addition to bird shooting, the proximity of the camp to Amboseli makes it an ideal venue to enjoy some world-class game viewing less than an hour away.

Our base of operations was a mobile tent camp set up under the shade of umbrella acacia trees. The camp itself is a study in logistics and ingenuity. The entire camp can be set up or moved in a day. The food was incredible, considering it was cooked over an open fire or in a Dutch oven. Linen napkins, monogrammed dishware, excellent wines, hot water showers and impeccable service make this remote camp as comfortable as most permanent facilities.

The hunting took place on a 15,000-acre private ranch where the habitat was mostly acacia savanna. The action is a combination of driven and walk-up helmeted guinea fowl, yellow-neck spurfowl and crested francolin shooting. The driven guinea shooting was excellent, with our best single drive for six guns yielding 59 guineas. Spurfowl were plentiful and mini drives and walk-up shooting were both productive. The daily limit on ground birds (guinea fowl, spurfowl and francolin) is 15 birds per day, and most days we reached or approached that number per shooter. The dove shooting was in the afternoon at natural water holes and, in one case, a watering area where a well supplied water to a cattle trough. The dove shooting was good, with bag limits of 25 per shooter reached on most outings. The species bagged in order of abundance were red eye, African mourning and laughing doves. We also spent several mornings shooting sandgrouse. The birds were all chestnut-bellied sandgrouse; however, in some years yellow-throated and black-faced sandgrouse also are included in the bag. The sandgrouse shooting was the weakest portion of the program with only 31 birds shot during three mornings.
Apparently, unseasonable rain had scattered the flocks, and the traditional watering areas were not being used.

The other shooting area, which I did not visit, was in the Shaba/Samburu region of northern Kenya. Here the mobile camp is set up in Shaba National Reserve, and the shooting takes place just outside the park. The shooting is similar with vulturine guinea fowl added to the birds available. Sandgrouse here are generally less abundant than they are in Masailand.

The bird hunting season runs July 1 to Oct. 31 and again from Feb. 1 to Mar. 31. The hunting is not hot-barred but still very good from both a variety and numbers standpoint. Limits are 25 doves, 20 sandgrouse and 15 ground birds, and limits are enforced.

 A seven-day safari incorporating five days of shooting and two days of game viewing is the minimum. The price (from Nairobi) is dependent on the number of clients - four clients with one guide are $525 per day per person and eight clients with two guides are $465 per day. The price includes hunting services, transportation to and from Nairobi, accommodations and meals.
Not included are bird shooting licenses ($100), gun clearance charges ($150 per gun) and shotgun shells at $40 per box. If you would rather not bring shotguns, Bateleur has a selection available for rent ($15 per day). - Gary Kramer.