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 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
Thanks to fellow blogger Shivani Bhalla (who I meet on my trip to Kenya), I now know how to upload video’s- so here is my 1st attempt. This was a video shot of our 1st sporting fundraising trip, Sim (my partner) and I cycled across part of England, mostly off road. We managed to raise enough to buy a new digital camera.
If this inspires you to do a fund raising event, then get in touch on [email protected] or through our website www.elephantresearch.co.uk
On the 3rd January it was time for me to get back to work, having had a wonderful time getting some R&R in Tanzania following our charity trek up Mount Kilimanjaro. We (my partner Sim was with me) got the shuttle up from Moshi early in the morning. The journey should take 7-8 hours, but it was not until 10 hours later that we were dropped off in the middle of Nairobi. The road from Arusha to Nairobi is pretty much non-tarmac all the way and they are in a hell of a state. I managed to sleep most of the way, as I am prone to do on long car/bus journeys, but poor Sim got to witness the risks that our shuttle driver and every other driver took on the roads. Thankfully we made it in one piece and then had to get a taxi to my friends house – which is another story for another time.
We arrived in time for sundowners with Lucy and it was a huge relief to be out of a vehicle and on solid ground. Lucy is doing her PhD on the elephants up at Save The Elephants base camp up in Samburu Game Reserve in the north of Kenya, and so on the Monday, after Sim left on the Sunday we travelled up to Samburu.
Lucy is working on conflict issues with crop raiding elephants and I have been able to go out with her to the communities she works with and see her work. She works with the Tukana Tribe and after we had checked her experiment, looking at an bees as a means of keeping elephants out, we were invited to see an Orphanage School that they had set up and we were welcomed with singing and dancing – it was quite incredible. My work focuses on a wild population, so seeing this aspect of elephant research was very interesting, it was also great to see the community work which is something we, through the charity Elephants For Africa, will be doing in the future.
I came up to Save The Elephants to learn from Iain Douglas-Hamilton and his work, and I am certainly doing that. We scientist should meet up more often to exchange ideas and learn from each other and I hope that this is the start of many exchanges in the future.