Friday, September 16, 2016

The Maruti Suzuki

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We bought a new Maruti!

The brand new Maruti!

This week we picked up a brand new Suzuki Maruti Gypsy from the car dealership in Nairobi. The Maruti is a small and light weight 4WD vehicle that has some advantages over the Land Cruisers that we do most of our research in. We currently have one Maruti in our Serena camp because it is less likely to get stuck when conditions are really wet. However, I’ve discovered Maruti’s are much easier to do my cognition research in. Being smaller and closer to the ground it’s much easier to get the multi-access box and my cylinders in and out of the back. Now we have a second brand new Maruti in camp that has been designated the “cognition car”. The Land Cruisers will continue to be used for regular behavior observations and for the other projects, including collecting vocalizations, collecting saliva samples from cubs, doing mother-offspring focal data collection, and collecting novel object trials with hyena cubs.

The inhibition tubes in the back of the Maruti.

The Maruti Suzuki is my favorite car out in the field- all of my best animal sightings have been in the Maruti. Due to its small size and quiet movement you can watch hyenas, lions, and leopards without disturbing them. However, not everyone loves the Maruti, here are some pros and cons!

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Maruti Pros/Cons:
Pro: Light weight – doesn’t get stuck in mud
Pro: Quiet – easy to unobtrusively observe animals
Pro: Small – easy to drive around Nairobi and park in small spots
Pro: Small – easy to move equipment in and out
Con: No power steering – you’ll get an arm work out at slow speeds
Con: Petrol engine – we can’t track hyenas with a petrol engine
Con: Small – only fits two people comfortably, very uncomfortable to ride in the back
Con: Small – lower visibility over tall grass
Con: Light weight – much bouncier than a land cruiser

The brand new Maruti at our cottage in Nairobi.

Land Cruiser Pros/Cons:
Pro: Large – lots of space for equipment in the back
Pro: Large- lots of space for cameras and binoculars in the front seat and dashboard  
Pro: Large – can comfortably carry 5 people on safari
Pro: Large – great visibility over tall grass
Pro: Diesel engine – does not interfere with radio tracking
Pro: Diesel engine – better gas mileage
Pro: Power steering – easy to maneuver
Con: Noisy – more likely to scare of animals and skittish hyenas
Con: Large – harder to maneuver in the perfect position, can be clunky
Con: Large – harder to lift things in and out of
Con: Large – hard to drive around Nairobi
Con: Heavy – gets stuck easily in mud
Con: Manual hubs – have to get out to lock and unlock hubs for 4WD

If you've driven a Land Cruiser or a Maruti - which do you like better and why?  

1 comment:

dee said...

I'll stick with the cruiser thanks. I'd rather ride a camel than ride in a Maruti!
It's too hard on old bones.

Michigan State University | College of Natural Science