Thursday, November 18, 2010

DR Day 1

Today was a crazy and all around great day, our first day of field research. It was a very early start for all the groups and we were split up all day, each group totally immersed in our research projects. My group mapped Kimana Wildlife Sanctuary, a 23  sqaure km protected area close to our camp that had never been mapped before. Now that Kimana is mapped we will be able to start our transects - we'll be doing animal counts along transects in 5 sanctuaries in the area. We'll do Kimana tomorrow and over the next week visit 4 others.

Collecting GPS coordinates along the Kimana boundary took us about 3 hours - we split into 4 groups of student and each group had a local guide as well as an armed guard (it is a total possibility to encounter elephants, cheetahs, etc). It was a fun morning of talking to the local guys and stopping often to record the UTM coordinates. When all the groups finished their portion of the perimeter we met up for lunch under an acacia and then drove back to camp to upload the coordinates  into excel and then into GIS. I have to say that I am quite proud that I figured out how to do that - I'm the only one who has done anything with GIS before, but I have extremely minimal experience!  We ended up with an outline of the sanctuary that is sufficient for our data collection needs for now (when I have time I'll figure out how to incorporate the Kimana sanctuary into the layer that has all the other sanctuaries we'll be visiting.

We were told before the start of DR to expect many set backs, etc, and this morning that expectation was fulfilled. On our way home through the sanctuary our land rover got extremely stuck in the mud. The back left tire was totally immersed and it took about an hour for the other land rover to pull it out. It was definitely the most crazy ride I've had so far here - Shem, our advisor, is an insane driver and I don't think he had any idea how jostled his passengers were as he careened on and off the muddy road. We can only expect our car ride experiences to intensify, because it hadn't rained for at least 24 hours when we were in the field today. (It down-poured this afternoon so tomorrow should be interesting...)

So that was day 1 of directed research, more later! Baadaye. Catherine

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