Kisemei is a Maasai guide who has been working at Saruni Mara and Saruni Wild for several years now. He was born and raised around the Masai Mara and has always been passionate about wildlife conservation. In this interview, we caught up with Kisemei as he detailed his journey to becoming a guide, his love for wildlife photography, and his tips for safari goers.
Q. How did you become a guide?
Kisemei: I started as a casual worker helping in the construction of Saruni Mara. Later, I became a waiter for one year. During this time, I was learning about the animals and birds (flora and fauna). Whenever clients would come back from a drive, I would ask what they saw and would go ahead to elaborate more on everything about their drive. The company noticed my passion and sent me to a guiding school in the Mara called Koiyiaki guiding school for a year.
Q. What made you want to work in the bush?
Kisemei: I am a Maasai born and bred around Masai Mara. I grew up herding cattle in the bush, and I always dreamt of working as a guide in the bush because of my passion for conservation. I came to appreciate the positive impact that tourism and conservation had, not only on the land and the wildlife, but also the community and wanted to be part of that in my own little way. So, the desire was there to begin with.
Q. How did you get started in wildlife photography?
Kisemei: I learned about photography by watching professional photographers whom I guided during their stay with us at Saruni Mara or Saruni Wild for several years. But I have always had a passion for photography from the moment I became a guide, and learning more about it as I went about guiding our guests seemed like the natural thing for me to try. Just looking and listening to what the photographers would say and do in the field was how I learned.
Q. What is one of your most memorable moments in the bush that you got to capture?
Kisemei: The best was this day we were sitting still, watching a cheetah called Kisaru with her two cubs when a male lion called Merinyo came out of nowhere and tried to kill the two cubs. In her true mother element, Kisaru became fierce and displayed bravery and chased Merinyo away into the bushes. I captured the scene, and my photo was featured in the Daily Mail magazine in the UK.
Q. What do you love the most about capturing moments in the wild?
Kisemei: I am not that selective; the only thing that matters to me is finding the right light and that happens to be early morning and late afternoon.
Q. What tips would you give to safari goers?
Kisemei: Just make it happen and go to the field and be patient. You will love it.
Kisemei’s journey from a casual worker to a guide is an inspiring story. His passion for conservation and photography is evident in the way he talks about his work. His tips for safari goers to be patient and enjoy the moment are simple yet profound. If you’re ever at Saruni Mara, be sure to ask for Kisemei, and he will show you the wonders of the bush.