Fieldwork and wildlife sitings
I still can’t get over the amazing sites of yesterday. We went to the hippo pool and we saw a bunch of hippos!! We got to see so many baby vervet monkeys! They are the cutest thing ever! It is just pretty awesome to see them playing. I don’t know how how many of you will believe this but I definitely felt a connection as they are so human-like.
Today (Monday) was another amazing day. How many biology classes give you the opportunity to see giraffe, elephants, baboons, zebras, and so many other amazing animals during lab!? Our daily lab consists of that and much more. Today we drove to the burned sites and gathered data on ant evacuation behaviors from Acacia trees. We have been trying to determine how sensitive they are to smoke detection so they can escape natural grass fires.
On the way to the burned site, we saw a bunch of wild dogs crossing the road!! Wild dogs are endangered and Laikipia is home to one of the largest groups of wild dogs. There were around 15 of them. About a minute later we saw a hyena following the pack of wild dogs!! (I haven’t had the opportunity to hear a hyena laugh yet but I am eager to do so). You can imagine how amazing each morning is, it’s as if we went on a mini adventure every single day and we have to adapt to the variability of the savanna! Lot’s of things we do not expect happen everyday.
The food is another great part of being in Laikipia, Kenya! The people from the Mpala Research Centre hosting us are very very kind! We have amazing food waiting for us when we come back from lab. Today’s food was especially amazing.. and right after we finished eating Ryan was notified the same group of wild dogs was spotted resting nearby. A short drive away, we found 25 wild dogs resting under the trees and watched them for about 30 minutes. Despite the fact that dogs like these have the ability to rip their victim into pieces and eat it alive… they looked like such puppies – playing, sleeping, barking, running around.
We are surrounded by wildlife. Even a quick run to the bathroom might surprise you with a bunch of little vervet monkeys playing around. It is really great to see that there are still places on earth where humans interact and co-exist with wildlife in a way that benefits both nature and humanity. I really want to say that Kenya has been a great experience and this is probably one of the things that I will remember for life. This is an awesome way to spend a May-term!
- Jessica Davila, Molecular Biology/Biochemistry – GC 2016