Thursday, 24 April 2014

Births, deaths and elephants!

Well this 2nd month into my Kenyan adventure has just absolutely flown by, and I cannot believe we are about to enter May. It has been a roller coaster ride of a month with births, deaths and Elephants; and I hope you like reading it as much as I enjoyed living it.

Looking out over the forest as the sun rises

Will kick off with the fact I helped write and host a monthly quiz held in a local beach bar the 40 Thieves. The quiz is mainly attended by ex-pats living in the area (who seem to be living very well by the size of some of their guts), but we also got some backpackers and two middle aged men with their lovely, much younger local girlfriends; its like they only just met, but I am sure that is not the case. The best bit about the evening was that I got to have free food and drinks, so I had their vegan falafel burger (very nice); also as a hardcore drinker I was knocking back a fair few mango juices I kid you not. A jolly good evening all in all, but the best was yet to come. On the way back we passed some workman repairing the road and all we had to notify us of this was a man dressed in no bright clothing waving a branch at us; that my friend is the Kenyan slow down sign. As we approached our site the driver had to slam on the brakes to avoid going straight over a new speed bump that had just been installed; that’s right, no signs, painted areas, nothing; the driver then said turned round and said “welcome to Kenya”.

Just enjoying hosting a quiz

I organised a trip to the nearby reef with the aide of a local fisherman and we went snorkelling. Nothing could prepare me for the calmness of the sea, the clarity of the water and the amount of fish that seemed so tame. It was like being in a beautiful, exotic fish tank where the fish were happy to approach and investigate. There were orange fish, black fish, silver fish, blue fish, big fish, small fish, I could go on. The highlight was seeing a clown fish (finding Nemo) going in and out of an anemone; just like the film. I am going to get a cheap underwater camera so next time I can try and capture some of these wonders. Also, the rainy season is now well and truly in as this video clip I took shows.




I took part in the Shimba Hills National Reserve clean up and got my first sighting of African elephants; definitely the highlight of my trip so far. Another big highlight, I was given the honour of naming the new male that joined one of the colobus groups I am following; what name did I choose? In the same group Chip, a 4 year old male, has returned after the group went through a bit of an episode. One was hit by a car and died, some members left (including Chip) and others joined like this new male I have recently named. Chip probably went off to look at getting his own group, but failed so has returned for now.

On entering Shimba Hills National Reserve

My first encounter with an African elephant

The new male I had the honour in naming

Chip has returned to colobus group 1

 A very tasty, gluten free vegan chocolate cake was made by me, that all the volunteers loved and ate very quickly. Safe to say the next one I made was double the size and had peanut butter in it, this went just as quickly. We also went to the local Indian restaurant here in Diani, which was cheap and super tasty, but you better like your food spicy because WOW; that’s coming from someone who likes his spice. Although ordering two drinks for myself seemed to confuse the waiter who thought I was switching between wanting a bottle of water and a Tusker beer; don’t worry folks I did get both.

I am very happy with my chocolate cake

I was present at the re-releasing of a Sykes monkey that we had taken in to patch up after a car accident. Luckily he survived and just needed minor stitches, safe to say he was mighty happy about going home. I watched the sunrise again, but this time at the top of a water tower, and so got some amazing views. I also went out to witness the meteor shower thinking we would have a great view over the sea. Well not only did I not see anything but within an hour clouds came in and rain started pouring down; got some pretty cool shots though.

Sykes monkey darting out back to freedom

Sunrise over the forest

The night sky over Diani, no meteors

Finally, I am now able to identify all the individuals of the three colobus groups that I am following (27 individuals), which makes me the first person ever to have done this; feeling pretty good right now. Now for some sad news - group 2 did have a new baby, but it must have been born dead which is a shame; the mother was carrying it around caring for it the whole day. Even worse, our beloved orphaned baby colobus Avi who was being hand reared passed away just the other day. He had been ill for a while and previous colobus babies lead us to believe this to be a likely outcome. He was a pleasure to have around and will be missed.

The baby was born dead, but the mother still cares for it.

Poor little Avi, he was a pleasure to have around and will be missed
 Now let’s finish with some good news, today I was tracking group 3 and when I found them I was greeted by a bright white, healthy colobus baby not one week old. It felt amazing to see and with the passing of Avi it was like we lose one, and gain one.

Bright white new colobus baby, healthy and well
What an end to a crazy month that I will never forget, bring on the next.



As always the pictures are owned by the author and under their copyright. They are uploaded at a lower quality as my internet in Kenya is slow.

You can see all my photos of my time in Kenya on my Flickr page here -http://bit.ly/1dpb3gd

Or on my facebook page here - www.facebook.com/diaryofaprimatologist

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