In the north of Kenya, stands the Shaba reserve, a place of biological endemisms; a haven for wildlife at the edge of a blazing desert. It is the so-called Northern Frontier District, the geographical limit beyond which reign the laws of life in the wild.
In a land where life seems impossible, Shaba guards the treasure of its exclusive biodiversity in a paradox without precedent. Wind, sun and dust; for three years, not a single drop of rain has fallen on the cracked lands of the Northern Frontier District. The natives call this region Nyica, the wild, desolate region. But even in this time of prolonged drought life clings on in Shaba.
During the early hours of the day, the animals take advantage of the lingering cool of the night to carry out their daily activities, before the heat makes all movement impossible.
Among the baboons, too, the family structure is the key making it possible for them to remain in Shaba even during the severest droughts. While many species leave, the baboons remain, and even manage to raise their young.
Finally, the clouds arrive, bringing hope. Huge cumuli form over the parched savannah and, three years late, finally release the long-awaited rain. In a matter of hours new rivers appear, flowing across the savannah. Like the animals, the plants that survive the rigours of this region are true specialists in withstanding prolonged periods of drought and as soon as they receive water they immediately shoot up, taking the maximum advantage of the time of abundance.
The secretary birds are hunters adapted to the open savannah. Their long thin legs may give the wrong impression.
In Shaba, all the animal species are adapted to the semi-desert climate. No one would be able to withstand the scarce seasonal rainfall if they were not real specialists in survival in arid climes.
The mating season has come. When the climate has changed, and there is food all around, the animals get ready to bring their young into the world. And during the weeks immediately after the first rains, the different species come into mate and breed.
In the herds, mating is also decided by the hierarchy. Each one knows what it can aspire to, depending on its status within the group, so in the same herd different couples can mate without this creating any conflict among them.
The little warthogs are only a few days old, and their only task during these first weeks will be to exercise in order to acquire the speed and strength which will enable them to flee from hunters. Wrestling matches, or football with a pat of elephant dung form part of their training. Anything will do if it serves to make them faster and stronger. Because it will not be long before the savannah puts them to the test.
During the short rains, between december and february, there are frequent storms at nightfall.
The climate mellows and the heat of the day gives way to fresh, humid air; the temperature the large hunters have been waiting for to go into action.
The river bank is the meeting place for the majority of the species of Shaba. In the course of the day, many of the animals of the savannah come here to drink. Elephants need between 80 and 160 litres of water a day, and the adult males can drink twice this amount, so they must always have water sources available.
The time of the hunters has arrived. The animals retire to their night-time ride away. Life on the savannah offers no truces. Another leopard emerges from the shadows, and the couple continues its silent round. Then, the male detects a furtive movement in a tree alongside the Ewaso Ngiro, and the hunt begins. It is now just a question of time, and beneath the attentive gaze of his companion, the hunter gets ready to attack. A last movement reveals a monitor lizard, provoking a reaction from the leopard.
And again two shadows melt into the night, combining beauty and death beneath the starry sky of Shaba.
With the return of the dry season, Shaba goes back to the beginning. Little by little drought sets in. And again God and the devil alternate until they become one and the same, with no beginning or end, in the perpetual circle of life.