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

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

An eventful camping trip!!

Expedition 103 welcomed Zeno to the GVI staff team as ‘Terrestrial Science Officer’. Zeno joined the staff team full of exciting ideas as to how we can expand the research we have been conducting in the forests to the East and West of Shimoni village. One of Zeno’s main objectives is to conduct a wider population census of the Angolan Black and White Colobus across the Shimoni Peninsula.

Zeno decided that we could begin the wider census by exploring to the west of the peninsula, towards the village of Kibiuni. We set off just after lunch towards Kibiuni. It was a beautiful clear day and the walk took us almost three hours. As we were walking we were constantly surveying for troops of Colobus and other interesting casual observations. The plans on arriving in Kibiuni were to camp over night and conduct a night survey. Our base manager Drew, drove the GVI vehicle; affectionately known as the ‘Shrew’, to the site where we planned to camp. The track Drew had to drive along to reach us was very infrequently driven and pretty rough. He brought us tents, sleeping bags, water and food. It was then a team effort to set up the tents. The tent the boys planned to sleep in ended up looking a little lop-sided. Zeno built a fire for us to cook the chicken which we had brought from Shimoni. The chicken was delicious and we had kachambari and chapattis to accompany it.

-- Nighttime bird watching; a lone kingfisher --

Once we were all fed and watered, we headed off on a short night walk. We walked as quietly as possible with torches held at eye height looking for reflected ‘eye shine’ from nocturnal animals such as snakes, Small Eared Galago’s and Suni’s. This time, we didn’t see too much but we all really enjoyed the walk. We did spot a lone kingfisher, fantastically brightly coloured, resting in a low branch.

During the night, it rained heavily for several hours (one of the perils of camping during the rainy season!). Amazingly, we managed to remain quite dry within our tents. In the morning, we packed up our belongings in the Shrew and started to head back to Shimoni. Within 100m of setting off we realised the track back hadn’t fared as well with the rain as we had. We were stuck, wheels spinning in thick mud. The track ahead didn’t look any better and we became aware that we were going to need help. Tim, a forest volunteer, and I set off to find extra hands or potentially a vehicle which could tow us. After, nearly two hours of what turned out to be walking in a circle we found a man with a tractor! Kindly, the farmer was happy to help us. Tim and I rode on the flat-bed trailer attached to the tractor and headed in the direction of the Shrew.
--Stuck in the mud, but still smiling --

When we arrived at the Shrew we found about thirty locals had come to help Zeno and the other volunteers. On seeing the tractor, many of the young children tried to chase and climb on the trailer. The farmer hooked the Shrew to the back of the trailer ready for towing. All of the volunteers piled onto the trailer, leaving Zeno to steer the Shrew. Thanks to the farmer and his tractor we made it back to Shimoni, in one (rather muddy) piece. All and all, it was another exciting and productive day in forest research.