Hello, hello, hello!!!
I am in Nakuru for the day so I finally have Internet again. This week has been ridiculous. I have no idea, no idea whatsoever how I have gotten lucky enough to be living at Soysambu. It’s mind-boggling actually. So get this: on Tuesday, we went on a hot air balloon ride, for free, and watched the sunrise over Lake Elementeita! The owner of the balloon company is a friend of Soysambu, and had 3 extra spots that day so gave us a call. It was so amazing, and so peaceful. We watched all the flamingoes, pelicans, giraffes, buffalo and antelopes wake up over the lake, and were able to see the entire conservancy from an entirely new angle.
It was really beautiful and really tragic at the same time–seeing the extent of the current drought Kenya is in was quite depressing. The lake is drying up as we speak, and the islands that the pelicans breed on are almost landlocked now. That is pretty bad news considering the Lake is the only pelican breeding ground in all of Africa.
The following day, we went to a stakeholders meeting of the important members of Soysambu and the neighboring communities. It was a long 4 hours but it was really interesting for me to see the business side of running a Conservancy. It is so very complicated, with so many issues: the absolute lack of funds, poaching, illegal grazing, resentment within the communities, lack of tourism facilities, too many herbivores with no predators, cattle competing with zebra for not enough grass, the lake drying up; the list goes on and on. Once again it shows how much there is to do here, with not enough resources to make it happen. As a good pick-me-up after the meeting, the rangers took us out “to see a big snake”. So cool! It was an enormous African Rock Python (probably around 10 feet long) that had eaten a dik dik (a small gazelle) whole and was digesting it, and therefore not moving. Another volunteer, Alan, got a bit too close and the snake snapped at him as a warning, sending us all running and screaming. So that was exciting!
The rest of this week, I’ve been trying to figure out what I can do for Soysambu in my remaining 3 weeks here. They have done so much for us, and I really want to give them something finite in return. My main project is giraffe and colobus monkey monitoring and identification. They would like to know exactly how many giraffe and colobus are here, and know more about their diets, habits and population health. So far this entails driving around in the Land Rover, locating the herd/pack, and watching them. It’s a pretty good job . It’s been really difficult to identify the individual giraffes though, so that is a bit tedious. I’m hoping to put together a report before I leave, so we will see how far I get.
I am dying to upload photos to show you all, but the lack of Internet has made it difficult. I will try my best! I will definitely get them up at least when I get home on the 13th. In the meantime, you all should check out Soysambu’s website: www.soysambuconservancy.org
Love you all!