BLOG # 13 –

30

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NOVEMBER 2012

By Elizabeth Winterton and Aileen Sweeny

IT’S RAINING ELEPHANTS

After weeks of speculation, the rains are finally here. After 6 months of no rain, it’s a bit of a shock to have to don the rain coat every day, but at least it’s preparing me for the English weather I’ve got to look forward to in 3 weeks!

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The first rains

Along with the rain, have come the elephants. After a rather noticeable absence around Kinda camp (on my part anyway, as I never seem to be in the right place at the right time) the elephants are back with 2 visits to Kinda already in the last week! So along with the 10 million fruit bats every morning and night, and the potential for a zebra to wander into camp at any moment (Kasanka have just released 9 into the park) we’re doing pretty well for animal sightings.

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The Elephants

FIRST IMPRESSIONS OF KINDA CAMP

My name is Aileen and I will be taking over the role of Camp Manager at Kinda Baboon Project when Liz leaves in a few weeks. I have been at Kinda Camp for a month now and I love it. Of course, I had my concerns about coming out to the bush for a year, but those worries all rapidly disappeared during my first week here. Liz has made me feel so welcome, and she’s been a brilliant mentor.

My first impression of camp wasn’t until the morning of 30

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October as we had arrived the night before. It was different to how I’d imagined it, and yet somehow exactly how I’d imagined it! Camp has everything we need and I can see myself happily living here over the next year. I also got to meet the baboons when we went out that afternoon. I think they were possibly checking me out just as much as I was them, as they almost paraded passed us! It was incredible to see the white infant (Macy) and also the mixed coloured infant (Elton), as I’ve previously worked with Chacma baboons (

Papio ursinus

) and so I’m used to only seeing black infants.

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Aileen & Liz in the field

My main role over the last few weeks has been learning to recognise the baboons individually. This is obviously the most vital part of the job, so that we know exactly which individual the data/sample is from. I am quite confident with most of the adult males and females now, so hopefully I will continue to learn them over the next couple of weeks.

Of course I have to mention the bats, as it’s not possible to come to Kasanka National Park in October/November and not mention them! Watching around 3 million straw-coloured fruit bats pour out into the evening sky from one small patch of forest on my first evening here was just mind-blowing. And their numbers have trebled since then! Every evening we see them; whether at camp or still in the field. I must say my first full day in Kasanka was amazing; exploring camp and Fibwe Hide in the morning, meeting the baboons in the afternoon and then watching the bats in the evening!

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The bats at dawn

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