Dickson Ole Maitano, Bird tours guide, Island camp

When did your interest in birds begin?

I have loved birds since I was a young boy. My uncle used to work at Island camp and taught me all about birds. From there, I joined the camp 20 years ago as a boat operator and continued learning about birds. Now I am  the resident bird guide.

How do you sharpen your skills?

I visit different places in Baringo to learn about different species. Baringo is the main hub for birds in the region, so I take advantage of that.  I have sat exams with the Kenya Professional Safari Guide Association at bronze level.

What does one need before going for bird watching at Island Camp?

They need to wear sensible shoes and long trousers because it is a jungle walk. They also need to carry a pair of binoculars, a camera and a guidebook to note down the birds that they see.

How does the lodge protect the birds?

The camp educates the Njemps community on the importance of birds. In the past, birds were used as meat and during circumcision ceremonies, their feathers were  used for decorations. There were also superstitions that spotted eagle owls were bad omens, so we to tell people why birds should be left alone.

Baringo has how many species?

There are more than 500 different species of birds in Baringo. Some of them can easily be viewed here such as the common bulbul, white necked commorant, yellow weavers, goliath heron, spotted morning warbler and resident African fish eagles.

Apart from birds, what are your other passions? How do you balance between social life and work?

I love swimming and playing darts. Usually, I work for one month and then take time off to be with my family and do my own stuff, particularly during the low tourist season.

What advice can you offer to potential bird watchers tour guides?

Utilise what you have to develop your passion. I developed my passion because I lived with birds and also work where many birds are found. Also, read books that will help you understand birds.

Future plans?

I desire to write a book on birds and also grow in my career.

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