29 October 2010

Bursary Update

As we approach the end of the school year, it seemed like a good time to visit the four local schools where there are girls sponsored by the bursary program. Albert Kuseyo, Joel Njonjo, and a representative from the Women's Group spoke with the principals and head teachers from each school to check on the progress of the girls. The students were all doing well and the teachers had very positive things to say about each of them. To learn more about the bursary program, read an earlier blog post here, and to donate to the program click on the donate button at the bottom of this page.

Students in Class 1 at Entasopia Primary School

Students outside Oloibortoto Primary School

Joel, a representative from the Women's Group, Albert and the teacher at the Komiti Nursery School talking about the sponsored girl's progress report

Albert, a girl sponsored by the bursary program and her friend, and a representative from the Women's Group in the Komiti School

Albert, Joel, and one of the sponsored girls with her teacher at the Olkiramatian nursery school

Grateful for Water

On October 16th, our community day took a different turn than it normally does. Instead of working with a group of teachers or students, we found ourselves helping the community in an entirely different capacity-to help restore water to the pipeline that feeds the Resource Center as well as many other sites down the line. It took a total of 4 days to find the problem (rocks clogging the pipe) and to repair it because out here the only way to find the problem is to guess where you think the problem is, dig up and separate a section of pipe, and then turn the water back on to see if water will flow. It was not an easy task, so it was great to see many members of the community coming together to help fix the problem, including 4 guys from the Resource Center. In the end, it was a good reminder of what a precious resource water is.

14 October 2010

Patterson Wildlife Club

This student volunteered to be the lion to show the rest of the group how the lion collars work and how we use the radio and antenna to track the radio collared lions.

This is the group of students and their teacher listening to Dave Christianson talk about the carnivore research project.

Wildlife Club members with Dave Christianson and Joel Njonjo. One of the students is pounding in the post that held the motion-sensing camera that was set up inside the school grounds.

Although the Resource Center is still under construction, we have started bringing school groups here so that they can see the buildings and understand the purpose of the Center and our research. The first group to visit was comprised of a teacher and thirteen Form 4 students (last year of secondary school) from Patterson Memorial Secondary School in Olkiramatian. The students were all members of the Wildlife Club at the school and were thrilled to see the buildings and to have the opportunity to learn about some of the projects taking place at the Center. The students learned about the carnivore research project and about some of the local wildlife in the area, asking thoughtful questions all along the way. They made their excitement and appreciation abundantly clear. We have been visiting the Wildlife Club every Thursday now for three weeks and look forward to continuing our visits to their school as well as bringing the rest of the Wildlife Club to the Center in the next few months.

One of the projects we have begun with the wildlife club involves the motion-sensing cameras that are used in the carnivore research project. On October 7th, we met with the club and explained how the cameras work and how they can be used to study wildlife. We discussed what types of data we could collect if they were set up on their school campus and what sorts of questions we could answer. The students then selected two sites (after much deliberation and discussion), one within the school grounds and one just outside the fence. They ultimately decided to set up the one inside the fence near a water source and the one outside the fence on a game trail with the idea that those places would be the most likely places where wildlife would congregate. After the two cameras were set up, the students made predictions about the types of pictures the two cameras would take. For example, some of their predictions include: that they will get more pictures on the camera outside the fence, that the camera inside the fence will probably take pictures of smaller animals, and that they will not get a picture of an elephant. The cameras will be deployed at those locations for at least a few weeks and then we will revisit the cameras and show the students what types of pictures they took. We are all anxious to see the results!

11 October 2010

Entasopia Teacher Visit

On October 9th, we had the pleasure of bringing nine teachers and two parents from Entasopia Primary School to the Resource Center for a tour with Albert Kuseyo, followed by the very first presentation in the brand new meeting hall building! Although the teachers were seated on makeshift benches amidst wood shavings, sawdust, and woodworking tools, the setting was perfect and it was the ideal way to inaugurate the new building. Joel Njonjo briefly spoke about the baboon project and then Dave and Erika Christianson discussed the carnivore research before the entire group embarked on a game drive into the Olkiramatian Conservancy. The evening started with a zebra sighting, then a a sighting of a herd of 17 eland, and at the end we were fortunate to locate one of the collared lions. Ren, a male lion, was resting in a woodland and we spent about an hour watching him and another male resting in the bushes before they got up and stretched and walked out of sight. Though, they didn’t leave without saying goodbye….they roared back and forth to one another several times while they were still very close to the vehicles – a thrilling experience for all of us!

A productive September

Going into the second week of October, we have been reflecting on September and the incredible month we had. In less than two weeks we saw our first cheetah, elephant, and leopard and frequently came across less common species like kudu, eland, and oryx. Every time we go into the field holds promise of something new or exciting to see as well as excellent conditions for collecting data on predator-prey interactions. And oh how the data have been flowing in! We have not had any trouble finding the lions, and in fact, several of the prides have been found within one mile of each other and not far from camp, making it easier to record locations and behaviors of multiple lion groups in a single evening or morning.