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June 27, 2013

Final Farewells

  I write this final blog from Nairobi at the Mennonite Guest House.  On Wednesday, we came to town (4-5 hour drive) to return Beryl, Dedan, Erick, and Hannah to their homes in addition to bringing Leah and Mandy to the Guest House.  It is hard to believe the course is over, but we’ve many memories that will allow the experience to live on. Monday began with a lecture from executive director of the Laikipia Wildlife Forum, Mordecai Ogada.  LWF is a non-profit organization that seeks to integrate water, wildlife, forestry, and community development across the Laikipia District.  The students were…

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June 23, 2013

On Friday we visited Segera Ranch, a ranch that borders Mpala ranch where we are staying.  Segera works closely with its community members on its borders and we heard a  presentation by Njenga, the coordinator of the Zeitz Foundation’s outreach programs.  More information can be found here.  Students were impressed with the various projects underway: construction of schools above huge water tanks to retain rainwater, outreach with women’s groups to create beadwork for sale in the U.K., beekeeping ventures, football leagues that include conservation education, and traveling theater troupes that provide environmental education. We also met with the ranch manager,…

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June 23, 2013

This morning we all worked on organizing and analyzing the data that we gathered during our field visits earlier in the course. However, later in the morning, Ryan suddenly came around and whispered urgently for all of us to leave what we were doing and quickly come load up in the van and Land Rover. Personally, I was quite surprised and confused at first, but soon all became clear: the pack of wild dogs that range around this area of Laikipia had been spotted on Mpala Ranch! Once we had all loaded up, we were guided by an askari (guard)…

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June 23, 2013

‘I have seen two lions” Mara reported as she struggled to catch her breath. “Where? ” Prof asked. As soon as the answer came we all ran to the direction of where she had seen them. Silently we observed, patiently waiting to see the big cats. Waterbuck ran as the baboons climbed higher on the tree…obviously something was amiss. Seconds turned to minutes with no success and we decided to go for a game drive to see whether we would find them. For the last couple of days we’ve been working hard altering the days schedule to see lions only to…

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June 19, 2013

With yesterdays visit to Ol Pejeta,  today was a bit relaxed  and this was signaled by some late breakfast meaning there was ample sleeping allowance given. According to the schedule, we took breakfast from 7.30 Am to 8.30 Am.(Kenyan time). The morning was a bit chilly compared to the other days with short moments of fading away sunlight. After breakfast, everyone was busy doing the days readings with the discussion starting at 11.00 a.m.  The discussion was on cattle-wildlife interactions in rangelands with a basic view on the effects of their coexistence. In the afternoon, the weather was better and…

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June 19, 2013

Ol Pejeta Conservancy

Mara’s blog – We saw elephants. One of my highlights was to see mountains, animals, and monkeys.  The vervet monkeys were so funny.  We saw twiga (giraffe) and we saw tembo (elephant).  There are also lots of mitis (trees) in Kenya.   We ate packed lunches before seeing the blind black rhino, named Baraka.  He became blind because he was fighting with another rhino.  I love Kenya.  It is so cool.  – Mara Akeyla Sensenig, 9-yr old daughter of Ryan and Donna Isaac’s blog – Yesterday we went to Ol Pejeta. On the way there we got stuck and had a…

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June 16, 2013

Weekend Rest

On Saturday we experienced another beautiful, crisp morning here at the River Camp in Laikipia.  It had rained during the night, which added to the freshness of the morning.  Dawn always brings a stillness and peace here, but with it a lively energy as countless birds chirp and the river gurgles close by. We enjoyed a slow breakfast from 7:30 to 8:30.  Since it was Saturday, we got to sleep in an hour later, and took our time getting to breakfast.  We enjoyed coffee, tea, and eggs and toast, chatting as the day got brighter and brighter. We had a…

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June 16, 2013

Although it started out as another day in the field, Friday was a day full of many exciting events. In the morning we returned to the KLEE plots to take more data on acacia tree-ant dynamics. Our drive back to the Research Centre for lunch turned into an unplanned game drive. We left the main road to get a closer look at a herd of oryx (our first siting of the trip) and, on the way, entered a large glade where we also had the privilege of observing zebra, impala, an ostrich, and a distant running eland. Back at the…

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June 15, 2013

I don’t like saying goodbye to the Boundary Waters.  I’ve only had to do it twice in my life, but each time has been dreadful.  Yet on our last day, each of us were forced to bid the Waters farewell. To me, the Boundary Waters represent freedom from the daily grind, from the unnatural civilization mankind has made for itself.  The wilderness has its dangers and struggles, but also has a way of simplifying a person’s life and providing a sense of mental clarity. For the entire week of this course, all that mattered was how we were going to…

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June 14, 2013

More data…

It is a good day as usual, the morning birds woke us up and they are singing as we have our breakfast. The morning feels fresh as I look through the landscape of Laikipia, the acacia trees standing there and the long different grass species wagging around gracefully. All the way to the field we meet tens of elephants grazing and browsing unaware and undisturbed by our presence, the impalas jumping along the road, the birds flying in front of the car and the zebras staring at us. How beautiful nature is!!! Do you think you can count ants on…

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