I just arrived in Rwanda and am thrilled to be back in mountain gorilla territory - montane forests thick and misty as clouds. Everyone here is gearing up for Kwita Izina, an annual gorilla-naming ceremony modeled after the age-old Rwandan tradition of naming children. More on that later; I'm excited to trek into the forests and see these beautiful primates. I am reminded of Dian Fossey's passage from Gorillas in the Mist:
To successfully estimate leopard numbers in the concession, each leopard has to be individually identified by the unique spot patterns found on its flanks and face. Each leopard has its own unique spot pattern, like fingerprints on humans.
The plan was for me to meet some bee-keepers in northern Kenya. Report on the AWF project, take some photos. I never would have guessed I’d end up in the bee suit.
First, some background. I’m in Maralal, a small town in northern Samburu district that hugs a large intact forest block called Kirisia Forest. In the past, people have put a lot of pressure on the forest, felling trees to get at natural bee hives.
Currently I’m in the process of quantifying leopard numbers in the concession. This has proven not to be an easy task which requires a lot of time to plan and acquire proper equipment. Firstly we had to purchase equipment from the United States, but then had to wait for two weeks for the cameras to be released from the customs services at the airport.
I've been in Nyeri for a few days now, and I haven't had a single cup of coffee! I came here expecting to be permanently buzzing from a steady regime of coffee drinking. But nope, not one cup.
It gets stranger: most of the farmers have never even tried their own coffee. But before I could feel too sorry for them they reassured me that - like most Kenyans - they are tea drinkers, and they're happy to sip their chai while their coffee beans are enjoyed elsewhere around the globe.