‘I Don’t Like Mondays’ (so went that infamous song), and when they begin under the cold clear skies of northern Scotland at 4.15 a.m., I’m inclined to agree.
However, this Monday is different, as I begin my migration to South Africa. By means of introduction, I am Craig Turner and I’ll be your expedition leader of the South Africa expedition this year. It is fantastic to be going back to this part of the world to work on this great project in a wonderful location. Below are some pictures of the location I took last year.
I am already on route, having packed my gear and left our croft in the sunny Highlands of northern Scotland. The serious travel continues on Wednesday. It will be great to be working with our project scientist, Dr. Alan Lee, again and it sounds like he has some exciting field work planned.
The signs are already good, as Alan has noticed scratch marks on a tree on the Baboon trail (not far from the guest house). At the end of August he decided to place a camera trap to try and identify the culprit. He presumed a bushpig or porcupine, but just a few days ago two incidents were captured on camera of a young male leopard, which we hope to catch and collar during this expedition!
We arrive a few days before you volunteers in order to set up the expedition. I say ‘we’, since I am also travelling from George with Melda and Gurli – our cooks. Melda was part of the team last year, so I know we will be well nourished. I’ll send around another message once I get on the ground in South Africa.
This reminds me to mention communications on the expedition. There’s very limited cellphone reception on the project base (a 10 min walk up a hill) via Vodacom, and equally limited internet connectivity. Hopefully you can resist the need for frequent international comms, and why not go off the grid for the expedition, and soak up the remote field experience.
I know you’ve all been eagerly reading your expedition materials and know to bring many layers of clothing and good boots! The weather can be a bit like four seasons in one day, so prepare for warm, cold, possibly wet and hopefully dry. Just like the weather in Scotland!
So with the local team in place, and other staff en route, all we are missing is you. It will be great to meet you all and soon we’ll be humming a very different tune, ‘Under African Skies’.