So I have arrived on the camp in Igota that is to be my home for the next few months. 40km north are the forest covered Udzungwa mountains and 30km south are the forest covered mountains of the Selous game reserve. In between is the Kilombero river and a patchwork of farms, swamps and forests. To get here in fact I had to cross the river via a ferry. The ferry in this case being a kind of truck on stilts that drives across the river bed carrying cars, lorries etc. The river itself is only about 30m wide at that point but crossing on the ferry is somewhat amazing. The camp itself is all made of teak and is very nice. There is high grass in between all the bandas (huts) that means that each hut is in its own clearing and the camp is full of animals. There is for example a lizard that looks very komodo dragon like that is about 4 foot long living behind my banda (i have named him puff). There are also a large number of birds, insects, lizards etc. Something that is a bit of a hazard here is army ants. A column missed my banda by about 6 foot which is very handy as the only thing I would have been able to do to if they had decided to invade my banda would have been to move to another one. As it was I had great fun feeding them cockroaches and slapped mosquitoes.
Rather dramatically on my first night a lion and her cubs walked into the village and unfortunately got shot. I went to see the bodies in the morning and discovered that the mother had a snare around her foot that had made her lame. Unable to hunt she had then moved onto easier prey, in this case humans and dogs. As there was a crowd gathered wondering who the hell I was I decided that this was the time to introduce myself and gave a short speech in Swahili as to who I am and why I am here. I also told them all the reason for the lion coming into the village and I’m hoping to use the incident as an education program. The relationships pretty clear really, use snares for poaching and you risk making a lion lame, which means they will come after you. To further that I managed today to persuade the game guards of the area to permanently lend me the skulls of the mother and cub so today I spent my afternoon picking rotting flesh off two lion skulls. One of the funniest parts of this job is putting the phrase “today I got paid to” in front of any activity I do.
So next week I will meet the rest of the chairmen of the villages I will be working with and I will tell the council that I want to start work the following week. The work that I will be doing will be basically driving around on the back of a bunch of jeeps tracking where all the habitat uses are. This will give the council a good map of what is actually going on in their land, allowing them to accurately manage it.
Also at this point I should mention the kids. There are tons of them. And they are on camp most of the time, pottering about and innocently getting in the way. They are very sweet and also very numerous.
ok will post again soon, love to all