Wednesday, June 12, 2019

Jambo from Kenya!

Hi all!

My name is Jana and I’m the newest research assistant at Serena camp. Abby (Talek’s new RA) and I both arrived in Kenya at the end of May and spent a couple of crazy days in Nairobi to stock up on camp supplies before splitting ways in the Mara. Although moving to a remote research camp in the Mara for a year seemed a little overwhelming at times, I was super excited to return to the home of the Big 5, get to know our hyenas, and be reunited with Erin, Serena’s current senior RA. (We actually became friends while learning about wildlife conservation and ecology in South Africa during college, so it only seems fitting that our first post-college reunion happened back in an African savannah).

For those of you who don’t know me, I graduated from Duke University in 2018. I’m primarily interested in human-wildlife conflict and the combination of technology and community involvement to address these conflicts. After graduation, I went to Brazil for a short field stint to set up camera traps in the Atlantic Rainforest, which will eventually help us track the effectiveness of local habitat restoration efforts in terms of wildlife presence/abundance. I also interned at the Nature Conservancy back in North Carolina, where I analyzed the possibility of planting pollinator-friendly vegetation on solar farms across the state to increase viable habitat for bees and other pollinators.

For the past two weeks, Erin and Lila (my co-RA for the majority of my time out here) have been working overtime to train me and get me up to speed with all things Fisi (which simply means hyena in Swahili). During my first night observing our hyenas, Erin told me to sit back, relax, and maybe try to differentiate some of the spot patterns of the various hyenas we saw. Needless to say, they all looked pretty similar to me. Since then, however, I’ve been able to successfully identify our cubs in North clan and Happy Zebra clan, and I’m slowly starting to learn the spot patterns for moms and subadults that like to frequent the dens. Honestly, it is so cool to be able to drive up to a den and recognize who all is there – I can’t wait to learn more about their behaviors and personalities this year!

Can you spot the difference? LOVE (in front) and BBOY are siblings from our North Clan.
Unfortunately, we’ve been getting quite a bit of rain in camp since I’ve arrived, which means that we can’t observe the hyenas as much as we’d like to. However, some of our North clan cubs have decided to take matters into their own hands – since we can’t come visit them, AANG and TARA (siblings from North clan) came to camp instead last week! I’d like to think that they mainly came because they missed us, but their attempt at stealing one of Erin’s buckets to play with begs to differ.

Overall, the past two weeks have been incredible, and I can’t wait to see what all this year has to offer. Tune in next month for another update. Oh, and don’t forget – hippos are in fact the most dangerous mammal in the Mara!

1 comment:

Livingstone said...

Amazing facts on hyenas

I've just graduated from Maasai Mara University(Class of 2018) with a bachelor's degree in Zoology and I find your facts intriguing. What's more, I work part time as a content freelancer. Let me know if you ever need help on your blog.

Best regards,
Livingstone Owiny.

Michigan State University | College of Natural Science