“There is a mystery behind that masked gray visage, an ancient life force, delicate and mighty, awesome an enchanted, commanding the silence ordinarily reserved for mountain peaks, great fires, and the sea.”
-- Peter Matthiessen on elephants from “The Tree Where Man Was Born”
11:00am: I take the research car and go and upload pictures from the cameras. I’m unsettled at this stage because I’m alone. I get to the first camera station. I get out of the car, pick up the stones that lay right next to the car and throw them in to the nearest thickets and wait. At this point I’m standing at the door in the Nakedi’s Ready Position: “if something so much as growls from that thicket, I will dive in to the open door and lock myself in,” I make a mental note.
It’s too bad elephants aren’t smaller. If they were, perhaps they wouldn’t travel such great distances, and we humans wouldn’t have to drive for so long to map their movements. I spent the entire day bumping through West Kili’s inescapable dust, GPS mapping a snaking network of roads. It’s amazing how tiring all this sitting can be.
4:45am: Wake up and take a shower (I’m extremely grumpy* at this stage).
5:00am: Still grumpy, I get in to the research car with my backpack and laptop bag and follow the bus from Shishangane (Staff Village) to the lodge (Singita Kruger National Park).
Contents of the backpack:
2. Ziplock® bags in case we come across leopard droppings
6. My note book
7. A sweater (I wonder why)
Samburu National Reserve has not had lion cubs since May 2006. This was a major concern considering the lion population here has been declining, according to lion researcher and AWF Charlotte Fellow, Shivani Bhalla.
But in a place full of surprises, we received the good news that three new lion cubs had been found in the reserve.