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foresthobo’s Travel Diary

Tuesday, 10 Jan 2006

Location: Watamu, Kenya

MapHave been off the radar for some time, in part due to being in the middle of nowhere and in part due to beach induced lethargy.
The Masai Mara was, in the true sense of the word, awesome!!!!! Unfortunately, the cheetah project is at a bit of a standstill at the mo due to the Kenyan Wildlife Services unreliable land rover. I wouldn't call it a write off but we went out in it for an hour,broke down 3 times and ran out of petrol.Even when it was moving it couldn't go faster than 5mph due to being stuck in 4 wheel drive after something resembling a drive shaft fell off plus the driver had
to drive one handed whilst using his other arm to hold the door closed. Sooooo.., luckily i managed to land a job being a field assistant to a Lion Research scientist who was also staying at the KWS station.This resulted in many hours spent sat on top of
vehicles clinging to seats affixed to a roof rack tracking lions day and night (with aid of searchlights)....absolutely unbelievable. We were following 2 prides within the park boundaries and 2 outside and got to know their individual characters and behaviour really well. We were lucky enough to follow them hunting, taking down a zebra one night and to see some 3 week old cubs which were just the size of housecats. One night, just outside our house some
lions came back to finish off a kill they had made the night before, only to be harrassed by about 30 hyena.A massive fight ensued over the meal and by morning when we were searching for remains all that was left was a bare skull, a couple of ribs and a tail! Hyena's eat everything! It's quite a gruesome spectacle to
watch but fascinating all the same. Anyway, sadly the time came to leave the lions which is the saddest i've been at leaving any project. Wildlife is definitely for me!! As a last treat, the guys turned up on Christmas day with a film maker and for 2 days we shot scenes for a documentary about cheetah conservation during which i did alot of blagging since i really hadnt done any cheetah conservation but tried to look convincing with my radio collars and GPS equipment!! They took us to the Mara river and filmed me walking the banks by the hippos anbd submerged crocs with a couple of armed rangers which was great fun...the whole thing made me feel very Saba Douglas Hamilton!!!!

Following a lightning journey back to Nairobi to catch a train to Mombassa, which was wonderfully like stepping into a bygone era of train travel with agatha christie style compartments. So now i am on the coast which is a bit gorge and while supposedly being on 'holiday' have been busy meeting researchers and conservation workers and got to spend some time at the Watamu Turtle Watch. i have now met up with the film guys again to join them finishing their work and tag along to see the elephant sanctuary and another marine project near the Tanzanian border which i might come back to when i've refilled the old bank balance!!!
WOW...will need a holiday to recover.....can't believe
i will be back in freezing London in just a week!!! I
have no coat and only flip flops....!