A few days after we had said goodbye to Andrew Smith of Memphis Zoo, Dr Ricardo Stanoss, Director of Education and international Training of the Chicago Zoological Society was due to arrive. I set off from camp at 0600 and went via the Phuduhudu Gate, having breakfast at the gate and catching up with the ladies Dudu and Black Korhaan who man (or woman) the gate.
I had given myself all morning to send emails and the grease the CV joints of Ellie. Mphoeng and I had greased them in our mechanics workshop when we dropped off Andrew Smith, and he had advised to top them up when we got to camp as the grease would have warmed and created some space. We tried doing his but the grease gun had broken, so when I got to town I exchanged it at MotoVac and headed to the mechanics with an hour to go before Ricardo was due to arrive. This should have been plenty of time but………. when I was finishing off the last wheel the nipple of the grease gun had fallen off into the CV joint. Thankfully I noticed before driving off.
So I then had to try and fish it out with a magnet. Thankfully Charlie Ellis (friend and ex-EfA researcher) was able to meet Ricardo and they arrived whilst I was under the car coated in oil. It was not the initial image I wanted for our funders ‘hi here is the organised and professional researcher you are funding’, but hey they got an idea of the skills you need to be a field biologist.
Trying to sort out the CV joint
Thankfully Ricardo, as well as a colleague is a good friend so was very cool about the situation. I was failing to get the nipple out, thankfully a professional mechanic saw my distress and took over and two hours after planned we headed off. I was hoping that this would be the only saga for his trip………
Last Sunday I travelled from Pittsburg to Chicago.
I am in town to met with various people from the Chicago Zoological Society to learn about how they may be able to assist
Elephants get everywhere, an Beno mask in the Field Museum
Elephants For Africa through infrastrucutre and connections to their projects rather than financial alone – although they have commited to another year’s funding which is great news.
Thanks CZS (www.czs.org).
It was an intense week of meetings with various personnal from animal ethologists, endocrinologists to educators. Their Conservation Education team was running a week long course for South American conservation educators aimed at play nature learning for young children. They were staying at the same hotel as I and so I got to meet with them and learn some Spanish!!!! Thankfully most of them spoke very good English but it was amazing to see how much we could communicate without language through gestures and facial movements, and to see how they could communiate through play with the youngsters they interacted with.
After our mutually busy days we would meet in the evening for supper and enjoy some of the delights of Chicago, whilst having a heated tri-lingual (I & Lucas from Argentina common language was German – but I was really scrapping the barrel to remember my school German) debate about conservation and how to get people conservationally aware and concious that their everyday decisions affect all of the world, from the rainforests of South America to the elephants of Botswana.
I love visiting America, I am always greeted by kindness (although perhaps not from the immigration staff) and generosity but I do find the amount of waste created by everyday activities such as eating frightening. Even when you choice to eat in not take out my meals at times have often been served with throw away plates and utensils. I have brought my own termal mug this year to ty and limit my affect this trip (Iknow the whole flying thing is not helping my cause….we are trying to limit the flying).
I encourage all my friends to use a termal mug when buying take out drinks, have a refillable water bottle…..together we can make a difference.
Try hard we only have one world.
Next stop Dallas
To be continued.
Whilst Mphoeng gets used to live in the UK, Graham is sorting through his data, Charlie is busy getting organised for her PhD and Sim is running everything, I am out in America trying to raise funds to enable us to continue with our work.
I left my beloved Botswana and her elephants at the end of September to make my way to the USA to attend the Elephant Managers Association conference in Pittsburg and then travel to various cities to give talks to raise awareness and hopefully funds for the work that we do. This is of particular importance at the moment as we recently got permission to build a research camp in the concession where we work, and so are desperately in need of funds for tents, an office solar panels etc.
The journey over was long and tiring and so I was glad after 2.5 days travelling to make it Pittsburg and have a day to catch up on sleep and try and get used to the 7 hour time difference!!!
I gave a talk about our educational projects, rather than the science I usually present about. It was very well accepted and both
Meeting a Komodo dragon at the Pittsburg Zoo
Pittsburg (www.pittsburghzoo.com) and Maryland Zoo, Baltimore (www.marylandzoo.org) have promised funds to help support us. So a big thank you to them.
Three of the mahouts from Abu camp (which is very close to the research camp www.abucamp.com) were there to and it was great to see Big Joe and Collet experience America for the first time, and I believe their first experience outside of Africa.
Joe and Collet enjoying the USA
Next stop for me was Chicago…….. tune in next time.
It has been a while since I contributed to this blog and for that I must apologise – it is not that I have not wanted to do it – it is more that I felt there was nothing of interest to tell you as I have been in the UK for most of the year and thought you would want to read more about the adventures in the bush.
Things have changed a lot recently.
In November of last year I was seriously thinking about giving up on the research. Things had become very difficult as I was had to work in the UK to earn pounds to enable me to continue doing what I love. Finding work in the UK was very hard and the demands of the charity (Elephants For Africa), which I set up with Randall Moore in 2008, and the research, including supervision of two students meant that I needed to put time aside for this. In the end the maths did not add up and I was left wondering if I could continue. I have not been paid for the work that I do, and whilst that is not an issue in the past, when I hit 30 the realisation that this was not sustainable began to play on my mind. The questions of what happens when I am older, or if I want children, and should I be unable to work through ill health or sickness what would happen to be then? Then a donation to the charity was made to cover my wage, which meant I was able to stay out in Botswana and do the work which I love.
In January my partner of 10 years asked me to marry him and in February he decided to leave his successful engineering career behind so he could join me in Africa. He will be taking up the voluntary position of Operations Manager, responsible for the day-to-day management and using his business skills to take the charity forward. This also means that I can concentrate my efforts on the research. So, at the end of July he left his job, and we left the UK for a much needed holiday in South Africa before coming up to camp.
We arrived in camp yesterday and had such a warm welcome from our friends and are eager to start planning for the years ahead. There will be lots of stories as we follow the elephants and look forward to sharing them with you.
It has been a while since I contributed to this blog and for that I must apologise – it is not that I have not wanted to it. 2009 has been a busy year for me and one of BIG decisions, mainly as to whether I was able to continue with the reseach.
Thankfully the answer to that is a big loud YES. It has been a year of ups and downs and heart breaking decisions.
I am currently in Cape Town waiting for the arrival of our Land Cruiser – a 17 year old beauty! We shall then drive up through Namibia to Botswana.
On the way we shall be trying to keep fit…… as Sim (my fiancee and I) got places in the NYC marathon to run as a fundraisier – please check out our funding page. http://www.justgiving.com/KateandSimsMarathonChallenge. This carries on from our successful summit of Kilimanjaro in December last year.
Cheers for now
An old School Friend, Felix Jaffe, is running the London Marathon on the 26th April and has decided to support the charity and is looking for sponsorship to help him around the gruelling course. Visit http://www.justgiving.com/felixjaffe to donate, support Felix and the elephants.
The arrival of floods in our camp and seeing how much distance the water covers of the dry desert has left me wondering how much the Delta is worth.
It has brought life to a desert, some would say a miracle in itself and can we put a price on that?.
The arrival of so much fresh, water giving water into the Okavango Delta led me to question how much the Okavango Delta is worth. Economists may well have an answer to that, if they took on board the revenue it brings in from tourism, the jobs that it creates, and calculates how many people it supports and what it would cost the government to support if it was not there. But is worth really just down to money?
Let’s look at the role of the Okavango Delta.
Its support a lot of species including the elephants, purification of the water biologically as the water seeps through the deep Kalahari sands and the reeds that clean the water at no cost. Here, no man-made machinery is needed to purify the water it is a natural endowment. So the question that I pose to our lovely blog readers is in monetary terms how much is the Okavango Delta?
The role that the Okavango Delta plays is priceless when I look at the abundant species it supports. Botswana as a country benefiting immensely from the Okavango Delta, it has supported people adjacent to it for many years. Elephants have benefited from the vast land of delta and it supports a high biodiversity. Medicinal plants that Delta provides help local communities, palatable fruits of delta, oh the list is endless. How much is this Delta worth?
For me it is priceless, and that is why I have dedicated my life it to. But is it safe? No. Conservation is not a business, it does not give a return in monetary terms but it does give – it gives the knowledge that wilderness, such as the Okavango Delta, which are the lungs of the world are safe….. how much is that worth to you?