Welcome to the Marine Mammal and wildlife Research and Community Development Expedition blog where you can keep up to date with all the happenings and information from Kenya

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Encounters of the Small Kind

Hello again everyone

Well I hope you’ve enjoyed the last couple of blogs from some of the other members of GVI here in Kenya. I thought I’d do this one myself, to tell you about the exciting evening we’ve had.

Last night we embarked on our second night sleeping out in Shimoni East Forest. This being our second time, we were even better prepared (with spare batteries for the torches this time!) and had another awesome night.

We headed in at about 6pm, when the forest is bathed in that amazing orange light, and the temperature has fallen to a slightly more pleasant level. We headed east for about half a kilometer, approximately in the middle between transect 1 and 2. We went back to the same spot we went to last week; a rather convenient natural clearing that is (almost) devoid of coral rag. After collecting deadwood and preparing a safe spot for our cooking fire (we want to leave as little evidence of us being there as possible), we all laid out our roll mats and made ourselves comfortable.
A.P - A former student of the Kenya Wildlife Service Training Institute - prepares dinner

The forest is such an amazing place to be as the sun is setting; you get the feeling all the creatures of the day are winding down, and you get that period of about 20 minutes where there is silence and calm.

Then once the sun has set, all the night noises begin…After an incredible dinner of nyama choma (BBQ’d meat!), we all gathered our torches, whistles and compasses and headed off for a night walk deeper into the forest.
The suni!

We were not to be disappointed! About 5 minutes after leaving we head a noise just to the right of us. We all spun around and shone our torches to where the sound came from, and standing right there, no more than 3.5 metres away from us, was a suni! A Suni (Neotragus moschatus) is a tiny antelope with long, slender legs, that stands no more than 30-40cm off the ground. It was immediately stunned by the torchlight, allowing us an unbelievably close view of a usually very shy antelope. It then proceeded to walk slowly around the area, foraging on nearby leaves, never going more than 6 or 7 metres away from us. We watched it in silence for at least 10 minutes. It was, hands down, the best sighting of a suni I have ever had!

Its eyes reflect the torchlight

We carried on the walk, our spirits soaring, and were lucky enough to get a brief sighting of a small-eared galago (bushbaby), and another suni, although it simply didn’t compare to the first one!

The suni decides it has had enough and starts moving away

We then headed back to camp, and joined Adam (the unfortunate one who drew the short straw and had to stay back to watch the fire), where we all lay around the dying embers, and fell asleep to the sounds of the forest.

It was the second successful camp out in the forest, and I’m pretty convinced this is going to become a regular activity!

That’s all from me for now, I’ll be back soon!