28 February 2011

Maji Maji (and more) Maji!

February has turned into a very prosperous month! Everything started off very dry as we were well into the dry season and the usual migrations down to the swamp grazing were well under way. However, by the middle of the month we had 5 days straight of rain receiving up to 36mm a night and instantly turning the arid landscape into a sea of tiny green shoots. It is an amazing transformation to watch and a shift you can feel as you drive through the Maasai settlements where relaxed and cheerful moods have settled upon us all as we watch the grass grow. Even the wildlife is responding with sightings of new baby zebra, impala, and even wildebeest across the area. This is the first sighting of wildebeest calving since the 2009 drought and it is a positive sign towards the recovery of populations.

It is not just rain from the sky that is cause for delight, but camp now officially has running water from taps! The days of buckets showers are over and though some of us will reminisce the old days it is certainly an exciting progression for the center. All this water has created both a beautiful and functional facility to welcome our two returning University Groups. The first is the Canadian Field Studies in Africa Program from the University of McGill in Montreal Canada. The group spent 3 nights at the center talking with elders and community leaders on issues ranging from land tenure and subdivision to conservancy arrangements and livestock issues. They were even lucky enough to overlap with a visit from David Western who gave a lecture on the history of conservation in Kenya and how this area fits into the larger picture of ecosystem management

The group visited the shambas in Nguruman, took a drive to see the flamingos in Lake Magadi, and learnt tracking techniques from our carnivore researchers. Overlapping with their departure we had our second University team come through from Sweden. Interested more specifically with cattle behaviour and interactions with the wildlife the Swedish team spent half their days walking with cattle and learning about local herding practises while using the other half of the day to visit the conservancy and learn about tracking techniques. They were even lucky enough to see 2 male cheetahs just outside of camp! It has been a busy time at camp and a wonderful experience to have visitors using the new center. We are thankful for all the support and enthusiasm!