Monday, June 19, 2017

Finally Here

Pleased to meet you all.

I'm Kecil, one of the new Serena Camp research assistants. I just graduated from MSU in May with a degree in Zoology and a concentration in Evolution and Ecological Biology. I have been part of the MSU Hyena Project since freshman year, when I joined the lab in East Lansing as a professorial assistant. My job was to enter data from the field into spreadsheets so the graduate students could investigate the behavior of these social carnivores.  It is a dream come true to travel to Kenya and participate in field research.

After graduation I had a month at home, then I packed my bags and headed to Kenya. I flew into Nairobi on June 7, and got to Serena on June 14. It has been an awe-inspiring few days. Waking up with giraffes right next to the driveway is amazing. Last night we drove into camp and there were elephants among the tents (we stayed in the cars until they passed by). As someone from a mid-sized city in Michigan, it is incredible to be among these legendary creatures. Yesterday was especially exciting.

For some background, there are only between 30 and 40 adult cheetahs in the whole Mara, around 3,000 square kilometers. Cheetah sightings are extremely rare. Last year the research assistants in Serena only saw 10 cheetahs total.

Yesterday, we saw three.

To be fair, it's not clear if they were three separate cheetahs or the same individual multiple times, but it was extraordinary all the same. I grew up watching Animal Planet specials about big cats, and now here I am seeing them in the wild with my own eyes.

If this is what my first three days in the Mara has been like, I can't wait to see what the next year holds.

I am in the back of the car trying to get a good picture to ID the cheetah.
You can see the cheetah next to the ladder on the side of the car.

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