Kenya: Leopard and other encounters

Data collection is in full swing with the teams driving vehicle transects or walking survey patrols together with the rangers starting from Bingham or Chali Chali camp. One team went up Kileleoni hill again. The tracks & scat archive now includes quite a few samples, the species inventory list is getting longer and longer, and the the bird list is growing daily too. We’re also in the process of looking through SD cards, but so far nothing really exciting, yet. Two cars went out for a full moon night drive on Tuesday – a very special experience. We found hippo grazing, buffalo snoozing, elephants foraging, herds of zebra, impala, eland and Thomsons’s gazelle. The number of hyaenas spotted was just overwhelming. Near one of the dens we watched about ten of them and their cubs for a while.

On Monday noon we started our second continuous 72 hour waterhole observation stint. Divided in eighteen shifts of four hours, two of us scan the surroundings every 15 minutes from the hide that was built by the rangers for this project before the expedition started. We’ve created a ‘waterhole box’ that contains the essential equipment, including a few Shukas, the traditional Maasai cloth to help everyone stay warm and comfortable, especially during the very early morning hours. Leonard, a local Maasai placement on this group, showed us some variations of wearing it.

Earlier in the week, Carrie, Chris and Musa had a lucky sighting while sitting out a downpour in the car. Guess what… a leopard! The next brief sighting was only a few hours later, but the best sighting happened during the dead of night shift between midnight and 04:00 when Peter and Ellen watched the animal for about 15 minutes, before he disappeared into the bushes. And suddenly – surprise, surprise – all citizens become very keen scientists to be assigned the erstwhile unpopular dead of night shift 😉

It has been raining quite a bit over the last couple of days and the temperature has dropped significantly. Keep your fingers crossed that the change won’t be long and we see the sun again soon!

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