MAASAI MARA, Kenya — In the Maasai Mara National Reserve, the Toyota 4x4 Land Cruiser of tour guide and driver Sylvester Mukenye glides silently past a herd of grazing elephants, then past a pride of lions lying in the grass.
The animals are completely unperturbed by the proximity of the vehicle because its diesel engine has been replaced by an electric motor that eliminates the rumbling noise and, just as importantly, reduces the emission of diesel fumes.
"If you drive here silently, you will, of course, get much closer to animals, especially the elephants that we are next to right now, because there are no vibrations on the ground and there are no fumes that they get the smell from like in other cars," Mukenye said.
His vehicle was converted by Opibus, a Nairobi-based Kenyan-Swedish company founded in 2017. It is, for now, the only company in Kenya that converts off-road safari vehicles from diesel and gasoline to electric power.