Monday, September 20, 2010

Tarangire National Park


            Today we went to Tarangire National Park to do a large animal count for our Wildlife Management class. This involved waking up early, at 5:30 am, so I thought about how people back home might still be awake on Sunday night! It took an hour to drive to the park and we began our animal counts at 9 am. The counts worked like this (sorry if you aren’t interested in this, but I am a bio student… I’ll keep it brief): we would drive 2km along a park road, stopping each time we saw any animals within 500 meters of either side of the car (this happened a lot). Then we’d record the species, number of individuals, habitat type, etc. We got through 8 x 2 km transects between 9am and noon. Here is a selection of the animals we saw: impala, wildebeest, zebra, waterbuck, dikdik, giraffe, elephant, warthogs, and 4 cheetahs chilling under a tree!!! Seeing the cheetahs was amazing – they were lounging in a big pile under an acacia, and they were alert, but relaxed. We saw lots of elephant as well, and at one point we were parked in the middle of a group of around 16 elephants of all different ages feeding.
            After we completed our 3 hour field lab (isn’t it great that our lab involves going on safari!?) we went to the Tarangire Safari Lodge, which is a really fancy and beautiful lodge inside the park. The lodge sits on a ledge with an amazing view and we enjoyed some American food as we sat on a patio that looked out over the expanse of the park. We could spot tons of elephant, impala, and other animals spread out below us, and there were even some warthogs rooting around the lodge grounds. To complete the amazing-ness of the lodge… it had a swimming pool!! We could pay 5000 Tanzanian shillings (about 3 dollars) to swim, and it was so worth it! I was so happy to be in the water again, and reminded myself of some basic swimming things like egg-beater, in-water-abs, and the flip turns. It was fun for us to just splash around and relax for a bit, and it was also a good chance for us to get clean! After the lodge we drove through the park to Professor Kissui’s field research station. He and a team of researchers have a program that uses tracking collars on lions within Tarangire to study behavior and distribution – his job is awesome!
Our group at the Tarangire Safari Lodge
            We rode home from the park between 5 and 6:30, so we got to watch the beautiful scenery and sky as the sun set. It is still a bit hard for me to take in my surroundings to a full extent - I just keep being hit with the wonder of this place.
            It is pretty late here, and I’m about to go to sleep. (I’m writing this on my bunk bed, under a canopy of mosquito netting) As we’d say in Swahili, “Lala salama” – sleep well.
 Thinking of everyone back home and sending my best, Catherine

1 comment:

  1. Catherine!! That sounds AMAZING!! You're not going to want to go back to regular labs at Bowdoin! Seriously... that's so cool!