Saturday, July 25, 2009

Thank you, Governor's Camp.

We are overwhelmed with gratitude at the graciousness and hospitality of the managers and staff at Governor's Camp. This is one of the most beautiful and highest rated lodges in the Masai Mara and they opened their doors to us, simple researchers with an old Land Rover, in our time of need.

One of our research sites is just downstream of Governor's Camp. We have been studying that site since we arrived in Kenya last year. While driving away from that site last week, our vehicle began suffering from a damaged oil seal. Oil was trickling down from our timing belt cover. Governor's Camp was the closest place of refuge so we began driving for them so we wouldn't be stranded in the middle of the reserve. Upon our arrival, their workshop staff welcomed us and began giving aid. They were able to repair our vehicle and give us excellent advice on other mechanical issues we have been having with the vehicle.

Not only did they assist us with our vehicle, they also assisted us scientifically. They were able to provide us with 9 years of daily rainfall data for the Masai Mara. They also expressed great interest in our research so we were able to provide them with data and advice on their water supply and sanitation system.

Governor's Camp, we are extremely grateful. Thank you.

Friday, July 24, 2009

The Mighty Mara?

From our testing this morning, the conditions are present in the Mara at the New Mara Bridge for a similar mass fish mortality event within the next 2 weeks - like the one we experienced in March. If conditions do not improve, the tourists may get to witness this as they watch the wildebeast walk across the Mighty Mara. More on this later when we get out of the bush...

Monday, July 20, 2009

The Mara...right now.

Almost as low as our lowest recorded readings during the dry season.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Carla learns to dance

We went out for nyama choma (roasted goat) to our favorite little place in Narok. To our delight, we discovered they have now added a disco to the venue. Here's Geemi teaching Carla the Dorobo Wedding Dance. Congratulations Geemi and Carla!

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Karibu kwa Kenya!

Our good friend Carla recently arrived from Georgia to spend a month with us here in Kenya. We're so excited to show her this beautiful country, to spend some time traveling together and to pick her Stream Ecologist brain about our research! Stay tuned for many adventures to come...! bad is the Talek River?

We are asked that frequently. It would be difficult to tell you exactly what is going on there so I'll show you...

We use Coliscan Easygel kits to test the number of fecal coliforms and E. coli in the water. This is a picture of a 1 milliliter sample from the Mara River just downstream of the Talek the Masai Mara National Reserve. Without getting into exact can see from the picture that there are a small number of pink, blue, and purple dots. Each dot indicates a colony.

THIS is a picture of a 1 milliliter sample from Talek River just upstream of Naibor Camp in the Masai Mara National Reserve. There are over 50 E. coli colonies growing in 1 milliliter sample of water from the river. The river smelled of raw sewage.

What does this mean? Well...the United States Environmental Protection Agency standards are...
Both of these samples were taken on July 4th, 2009. The famous Migration is in effect and the tourists have flocked to the area.

If there had been a good deal of rain, it would not have been unusual to see elevated counts. During heavy rain storms, the fecal matter from all the ungulates defecating on the plains are washed into the rivers and they show up in our samples. But...there has been no rain in the area for several weeks. We are in the midst of a drought. The water levels are some of the lowest that we have seen. So where is all this fecal contamination coming from? It is difficult to say...but with the higher numbers of tourists staying in the lodges along the Talek River and the well known fact that many of the lodges do not treat their wastes...well...I'll let the facts speak for themselves.

Saturday, July 4, 2009