Goodbye to the Mara – the end of my first summer of PhD research

For the last three months, the Mara has been my home and my office. The staff at Ilkeiani – even the guests (who I have met only ephemerally) – have been my friends and family. I have been immersed in the things I love most – in the bush, in a world where elephants cross the road in front of your car, wildebeest are so common that they become part of the scenery, hyenas cry out in the night, and vultures are ever-present eating the refuse of the migration – the hundreds of animals that don’t finish their journey. Each day I have worked, burned in the sun, baked in the midday heat, and learned a little bit more about the Mara and its inner workings. The politics have been over-whelming at times, but in the end I have been able to focus on my research and I have enjoyed meeting all the characters that have come to love and depend on this amazing ecosystem. An ecosystem that is caught has become a battlefield as people fight to conserve it, while others desparately take what they can from the land sometimes for greed and sometimes just to get through one more day. My love for the wildlife has been renewed and my fascination in its intricacies expanded once more. Nothing is predictable here and each day has been a discovery as I am taught again and again through constant observations. Some observations have been deliberate and I have learned so much about vultures and other scavengers and how complex their interactions and behaviors truly are. But much of the observation has just been a part of my daily life and I have slowly come to know the favorite places of the topi herds, the areas with the biggest tuskers, the movements of the wildebeest, and the hiding places of the big cats. Today I leave, but only temporarily. With any luck, I will be back continuing my studies of the vultures at the beginning of next year. I can’t wait to see what has changed and perhaps even more what has stayed the same. I can only imagine what surprises the Mara has in store for me in the not too distant future. To all that have read this, thanks for sharing my adventures. I hope you have enjoyed them. I plan to continue posting though certainly not as regularly (and probably not as interestingly) during the next few months as I explore my data in my other home in New Jersey.

2 thoughts on “Goodbye to the Mara – the end of my first summer of PhD research

  1. Thanks, Corinne. Sorry that we won’t be getting any more of the good stuff for a while. It’s been fun reading and listening to Kevin’s updates…

  2. Wish I had known about your blog before today. Found this on Wildlife Direct/Simon’s blog. Yours is a good read about a fasinating species. I’ll be in the Mara Triangle area and about in a few weeks and will keep an eye out for the birds that are marked. Will take photos and mark down the locations.

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