First up: Cool animal siting: African wild dogs!!
We got a call from Stratton, our friend from the Maasai Mara Martial Eagle project, midday on a Monday. He said “Morgan, there are wild dogs near you. Don’t think, just get in the car.” I was already up and running. I may have hung up on him in my frenzy but I can’t be sure, I was in a tizzy. We met up with a tour driver, Derrick, who had given Stratton the tip, and raced out there. It had rained the last few days so the crossings were questionable but Derrick plowed through them ahead of us and we managed to follow just fine.
We were driving the inside edge of a lugga we call horse shoe (it’s U-shaped like a horse shoe, of course) when Benson says “THERE”. Sure enough, 2 painted dogs were sacked out sleeping against each other under a tree!
We stayed with the dogs for a while but had to leave to get ready for obs. On obs we slowly made out way back towards horse shoe and managed to run into the two wild dogs again, along with about 6 tour cars. It was the perfect time of day and they were starting to hunt! So we followed them around for a little while. At one point they came across two of our own hyenas, Cyberman and Unagi. At first Cyber and Unagi shied away from the wild dogs but they eventually formed up and ran the dogs off a few times after that. Unfortunately, it started to rain really heavily and we had to race home before we were stuck in the Mara for the night.
After we got home we heard that the wild dogs had taken down a gazelle and the hyenas had stolen it! Once again proving that it is hyenas - not lions or anything else - that reign here in the Mara (You might think I’m biased but you'd be wrong).
Shortly after that I left for vacation and missed ANOTHER encounter with the dogs. Here are Rebecca’s photos!
Next up: The 15th of April was my 6 month Kenya-versary! Here are a few things I’ve learned about myself, the Mara, and life, man.
1. A world without bagels and cream cheese is not one I can live in for long. Thankfully I JUST learned that Joseph can actually make bagels so that’s half of the puzzle right there.
2. This Michigan-grown body can survive (unwillingly) in 95 degree daily dry heat. Who knew??
3. The moment you start to feel confident in your abilities here in the Mara, you know something is about to go wrong. The Mara does not suffer confidence for long; you will be brought down. Get ready.
**Example: A few weeks ago I was on solo obs and I was feeling really good. I IDed all the hyenas and didn’t get lost, not even for a second! Well, about 5 minutes after noting that I was doing swell, a big swamp gobbled the vehicle up (I sort of drove right into it) and poor Benson who was home sick had to come pull me out….pole.
4. Living and working and eating and breathing with the same humans can be super difficult. But when you work it out it can be also incredibly rewarding to have someone you can trust by your side every single day. The other ...uh...interesting aspect is how much you learn about yourself when all day you see yourself reflected in someone else’s reactions to you. It has been an experience of self-discovery/loathing/care that’s for sure. Communication is key, folks.
5. Hyenas are the dopest, don’t let anyone tell you different.