Monday, August 29, 2011

Visit to the Ntiakntiak River

Some of the most interesting data we got this summer came from the seasonal tributaries that drain into the Mara River from the Loita and Aitong Hills. One of those tributaries is the Ntiakntiak River, a small seasonal stream that joins the Olare Orok and runs into the Talek before joining the Mara. During David's visit, we traveled to visit the Amani Mara Lodge on the bank of the Ntiakntiak River. A friend of ours from the Mara River Water Users Association, Joseph Kones, is the Manager there, and he had invited us to visit this ecologically-minded lodge. Unlike many lodges which are built in the riparian thickets along the river banks, which encroaches on critical habitat for many wildlife, the Amani Mara is built in the open plains, offering spectacular views and great wildlife viewing. It's also incredibly luxurious, which was a wonderful place to visit after 3 dusty, bouncy, sunny days of traveling around and camping in the Mara.

Cottages of Amani Mara
 During our stay, one of the local guides took us on a morning walk along the river. It's a small but beautiful river with unique boulder formations along its banks and lots of wildlife living around it.

Walking along the banks of the Ntiakntiak

David, of course, always his eyes out for fish, and he spotted this impressively large skull of a Clarius, or mudfish, which are like catfish. It was surprising to see how large of a fish had come out of this small, seasonal river.
Examining the skull of a mudfish

It was also interesting to see a pod of about 16 hippos living in a small pool on this river. Given the small amount of water flowing through this system, this pool looked like the perfect place to measure hippo effects on the river. 
Overlooking the hippo pool on the Ntiakntiak
 Fortunately, the owner of the lodge, Ashif Suleman, was very interested in our research and excited about having us collect data on the river, and he graciously invited us back. During our return visit, we got some of the most interesting and clear-cut data of our whole summer field-season. We look forward to doing some more work on this beautiful river!

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