Thursday, December 31, 2015

2015: A Year in Review

Gosh that sounds odd. Like most people in the world, I’m sitting here writing and wondering where 2015 went. I still remember the moment the clock struck midnight last year, and thinking, ok 2015, here we go: my last semester of college, graduation, Kenya. And here I am, reflecting on 6 months spent in Africa. I’d say it’s been the year of a lifetime.

As for what this year meant for FisiCamp, between hyenas, car repairs, and a few surprises, I’d say it’s been a good one for the project as well.

The Numbers: Serena Camp

We welcomed 38 brand new hyenas into the world,
Butcher - one of the many new cubs to join us this year. 

...received 1,166ml (71 inches) of rain,
Rainy day in Serena camp. 
...said goodbye to 5 hyenas (rest in peace, fisi friends!),

 ...conducted 13 dartings,

...and deployed 6 radio collars. 

The Numbers: Across both camps
We celebrated Navajo’s 23rd birthday (our oldest known hyena!),

...initiated 5 RA’s into the hyena world,

...saw 6 RA’s complete pass the torch and bid farewell to Kenya,

...welcomed 2 new grad students to the lab,

...survived 1 flood in Talek camp,

...pipetted our way through 1 DNA day (where we process most of our physical samples from the previous year to send back to the US),

...and witnessed 1 clan war in Talek

My 2015
For me, 2015 was the year that a major chapter in my life ended: graduating from college. An entire four years came to a close, and saying goodbye to late-night study groups, my closest friends, a town I called home, and everything familiar was definitely hard. But, it was also the year that a brand new and exciting chapter began: I came to Kenya, expecting hard work and lots of hyenas. What unfolded was worlds better than what I could have ever imagined.
  • I saw my very first hyenas!
Nightshade: the first cub and hyena I saw in the Mara. 
  • Experienced a hot air balloon ride for the first time. 
    View from the hot air balloon.
  • Got stick-shift lessons...always tough to start, but I've gotten better since, I promise!!
    Driving the driveway. 
  • Celebrated my 22nd birthday the FisiCamp way 
  • Saw a leopard kill a baby zebra inches from our front bumper
    The leopard that moments before took down the zebra.
  • Witnessed the wildebeest crossing 
  • Got hooked (ok, fine, obsessed) on the TV series Firefly during a rainy week (Thanks, Erin!)
  • Was late to morning obs because of a buffalo outside my tent.
  • Savored amazing food with our FisiFamily on Thanksgiving. I may or may not have cried over the deserts...there was apple pie!
  • Thanks Ciara for the FisiFamily pic!
  • Discovered the joys of chapati...I ate four the first time I had them. 
  • And finally, I've met some of the hardest working, most genuine, and most passionate people in the world. I'm very lucky to call them my friends and my FisiFamily. 
As we ring in this new year, I propose a toast (you can't see it, but I'm raising my champagne glass): Here's to healthy hyenas, functioning cars (well, at least somewhat functioning), few siafu ants, and many, many merry gatherings around the lab table. Happy New Year from Kenya, and catch you all in 2016!

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