Wednesday, February 6, 2019

New RA in Talek camp!

Hello everyone! My name is Marie and I’m a new RA in Talek camp. I’m 23, I’m French and like everybody else here, I love hyenas.

My interest for hyenas started when I volunteered for 3 months with the Brown Hyena Research Project in Namibia, in 2017. During this time, my field work consisted of servicing and downloading photos from camera traps. I would then analyze them in the office. Brown hyenas are very interesting animals. In Namibia they live on the coast and in a desert and dry environment, and they mainly feed on seal pups. I really enjoyed my time there and to have the opportunity to see them, understand how they live and also to be part of the darting team when they were fitted with GPS collars.


I enjoyed Namibia so much that I decided to go back there in 2018 during 6 months to do my MSc thesis on a small spotted hyena clan adapted to this desert environment, in the Namib Naukluft National Park. Because of the drought in the area, a conflict emerged between the hyenas and a population of feral horses, and hyenas were diversionary fed by people with the aim to reduce the predation pressure on the horses. The objective of my study was to determine the impacts of this diversionary feeding on the spotted hyena population and movements. To get data, I also mainly worked with camera traps as these spotted hyenas were only nocturnal and very elusive.

Being here in the Mara now is so different from my last experience in Namibia. First, the climate is very different as it rains a lot and everything is green. Also, I am amazed by the number of both herbivores and carnivores in the Park. In just a week I saw lions, leopards, cheetahs (even baby cheetahs!), serval and hyenas of course. I even had the opportunity to see a lion-hyena interaction and a hyena taking down a young topi. There is so much to see and we never know what we are going to observe when we go on obs.

Life at camp is also great, the tents are comfortable, we have great food and a hot shower. I love it here and I’m so excited for this year!

Michigan State University | College of Natural Science