Before I launch into giving you lots of information about the goings on at Kinda camp, I thought I should introduce myself. My name is Liz, and I am currently volunteering for the Kasanka Baboon Project as camp manager. I have been here since January, and will remain until December 2012, continuing the work of the project whilst Anna is writing up her PhD.

I’m hoping to keep the blog regularly updated and provide you with news on all the exciting things happening at Kinda. I’m also hoping to give you a bit of an insight into the work of the Kinda team by asking them to regularly contribute to the blog themselves.

So, it’s been a busy few months for myself and the project, with firstly getting to know the baboons and the research methodology, and secondly implementing a regular presence within the local community through the initiation and continuation of various projects.

As I arrived in January we also welcomed 2 new scouts; Marley and Kennedy. They both work for the Kasanka Trust and have been on the anti-poaching patrol teams for many years so have excellent tracking skills and knowledge of the forest. As well as continuing with their important anti-poaching patrols, they are now part of the research team, and accompany me in the field 20 days per month.

We also saw another new arrival in January in the form of an adult male, now named Garcia. He integrated into the group with ease with no aggressive interactions being observed. He seems to have quickly established himself as a trustworthy male and is often seen interacting with Floyd, Frieda’s 9 month old son. He has also managed to maintain a courtship with the youngest adult female, Indigo, during her periods of estrous. He has however not yet tried to contest Muma for alpha status.

Garcia and Floyd

Kennedy and Me


Births and Migrations

The last month has been a busy time for the kinda group. As well as having to travel further to find enough suitable food, we have welcomed the arrival of 4 babies, and said goodbye to 3 males. Two babies, one white and one grey,  were first observed on the 13th April. Due to the forest habitat, it is nearly impossible to see the majority of the group all at once, and it’s very easy for individual’s to hide away and rarely get seen, so when I first saw Clover’s infant, now named Cash, I was surprised to see him moving (if somewhat unsteadily) around on the forest floor and starting to gingerly interact with some of the more inquisitive juveniles and infants. Due to this relative independence from his mother, it appears Cash was already at least 1 month old! The grey infant on the other hand still appeared to be only a few weeks old and readily clung to her mother.

The next 2 new arrivals, both of which are white, were observed on 25th April and were approximately 1 week old. Unfortunately since the first glimpse, we have only seen one of the females and her infant again, so the other female seems to have disappeared. This unfortunately coincides with the disappearance of one of our regularly viewed females, Beth, so it is possible that she was the 4th female with an infant.
Rather surprisingly, it seems to be the females who are most interested in the new arrivals, with the exception of Mr Wizard who has now ditched his long-term ‘partner’ MJ for Clover and Cash. However, it will be interesting to see whether the males become more interested as the females get less protective and the infants start to become more independent.

We have also had 3 migrations, with males Cat, Leon and JK all leaving the group within a few weeks of each other. Hopefully it is not the last we see of them, and we will keep an eye out to see if they have joined the neighbouring baboon troop. The shift in dominance hierarchy the emigrations have produced seems to have spurred one of our adolescent males into the equivalent of his stroppy teenage years, seeing him pick fights with anyone and everyone, and even redirecting some aggressive interactions towards us! Hopefully he will grow out of this quickly!
Godiva and Jojo

Aretha and Indigo coming to inspect the new arrival

Clover and Cash

Mr Wizard keeping a close eye on Clover and Cash

Floyd and Frieda with Beth and her unnamed infant

Cat, JK, Leon

New male?
As well as having to adjust to 3 new babies in the group, the males in particular are also possibly having to adjust to an even bigger arrival; a new adult male. Once reaching adult hood, between 8 and 10 years of age, the majority of males will migrate from their natal troop and enter a new group in the prospect of finding new females to mate with, and in some cases, attempt to attain alpha status. Our new male, yet to be named, has only been observed once so far, early in the morning at one of the regularly visited sleeping sites near to camp. Seemingly unimposing he was calmly sitting near to some juveniles; however he did not try to interact with any of the group members. Maybe he was just observing the troop and deciding whether this was the group for him. We will keep a close eye out over the next few weeks to see if he returns.
The New Male

Community project updates.
The girl’s Science Club is still continuing, and proving to be a great success. With the help of the community relations team at Mulaushi, we are continuing to teach English, Science and Maths as well as life skills. This week the girls attended a First Aid course run by myself and Mary, a Peace Corps volunteer working at Mulaushi. The course covered basic first aid and the girl’s all got stuck in practicing their recovery positions, CPR and bandaging.

As a qualified TEFL teacher, I am also attending Kafinda Basic School once per month and giving English lessons to students in grades 8 and 9. My first lessons were rather daunting for myself, as well as for the students; I was not used to teaching 50 students at once with no resources except chalk and a blackboard, and the students had never been taught by a British person before! Although understandably shy at first, the students are now starting to interact more in lessons and improve their English speaking skills in particular which is great.

Kafinda is also continuing with their Conservation (Chongololo) Club, and last month the girls from the Science Club at Mulaushi travelled to Kafinda to teach their very first lesson on food chains and biodiversity! This proved to be a great success, with the usual class of 20 students escalating to around 40 students by the end of the lesson.

Abia the ever smiling patient; 
Abia, Victoria, Antoinette, Mary, Selena and Enalah after completion of the course
Bandage practice
Demonstrating how to bandage
practicing CPR

practicing the recovery position
Girls in their new t-shirts
girls teaching at Kafinda
the crowds gathering
The Chongololo club
After my first Grade 9 English lesson at Kafinda