The first round of camera checks was a bit of a tense experience for me. Every time I drove up to a camera I was worried it would be missing, damaged or I had forgotten to switch it on! Thankfully, the loses were lower than expected with only three cameras missing and 4/5 damaged. Most of this damage was caused by hyaenas who seem to feel the need to investigate everything with their teeth! As a result, we are building quite a collection of photos of the insides of hyaena’s mouths, anyone for a dental check?
One of the other main camera damaging culprits are elephants. We have so far lost one case that was stood on by an elephant and bent it out of shape but the camera was still fine inside, although it did take a sledgehammer to get it out. The posts have proven to be the most vulnerable to elephants with a number bent and one in particular they seemed to use as part of an origami art project, I was particularly impressed by the twists at the bottom! This incident has left us with lots of pictures of the sky, some even managed to catch birds overhead.
My latest trip to the Mara Triangle was a lot less eventful than the first with no close encounters with wildlife. The wildebeest have nearly all moved south now although they did decide that some of the camera posts made very good scratching sticks on their way so we now have some rather wonky photos! The departure of the wildebeest has meant that the elephant numbers in the triangle are now increasing again and as this is the site with the most posts used instead of trees I am expecting there to be a few more used for elephant origami when I next return! It was in Mara North that I had the most interesting discovery when I found a young snake inside the camera case, it was gone too quickly for me to get a photo but it was definitely green which means it could have been a boomslang or a mamba but is more likely to have been a spotted bush snake. I also disturbed a very large monitor lizard at one of the cameras in Olare-Motorogi Conservancy (OMC), as I approached the camera I heard a lot of rustling in the vegetation behind it so quickly backtracked towards the vehicle, I then saw the culprit climb up the other side of the bank and dart off into the undergrowth. Also in OMC as we approached a camera we disturbed a serval in the long grass in front of it. This was the first wild serval I had seen and unfortunately it ran off so quickly that I didn’t get a chance to get a photo and the camera trap was out of battery. I think I need to start wearing a body camera so I don’t miss these photos!
October and November are meant to be the months of the short rains, however, it is now mid-November and they have not really started, even though they teased us at the start of October. The long rains this year were exceptional in the Mara but it is now starting to look very dry and a lot of the local water supplies are starting to dwindle. And along with this comes the dust. It gets everywhere! All you have to do is drive 10 meters from camp and you, your car and everything in it will be coated in dust. You get back at the end of the day and look in the mirror and think you have a tan but it all washes off in the shower! And then when you get out of the shower you only feel clean for about 10 minutes before the dust invades again… Everyone is hoping the rains will come soon if only to settle the dust!