By Constance Taylor (Gorongosa Lion Project)
The Gorongosa Lion Project has just returned to the park to continue where we left off earlier this year! Our field team for the next two months is Paola (Senior Researcher), Constance (Research Assistant, and your tour guide for this particular blog), and Jeff (Filmmaker) and Park scientific and conservation staff - we’ll be sure to introduce everyone over the weeks to come. We arrive as spring begins here south of the Equator, and the peak of the dry and wildfire season.
Having been in camp just 3 days a lot of our time has been spent setting up camp, meeting with senior staff and organizing gear and establishing safety protocols. Field work will soon ramp up - so we’ll be sharing news and discoveries as they come!
Here’s a short photo diary of the last three days:
After 22 hours flying across the globe, a night in Beira, and a four hour drive, here we finally are at the main gate to the Gorongosa National Park! Just in time for the gorgeous sunset.
Jeff and Constance settling into camp and setting up the kitchen tent. At the fledgling research center at Chitengo (slated to be the new E.O. Wilson Research Center in 2013) we live in canvas tents, but complete with electricity & internet.. Shown here is an extra tent we brought with us that now serves as our food storage tent- we stocked up in Beira on non-perishables since the nearest grocery store is about three hours away. Yes, we have lots of rice and peanut butter. We’ll be purchasing veggies from Vinho, the closest village ~1-mile from camp.
September 16 is our first full day in the Park, and we spend it driving very, very slowly around the park looking for signs of Tripod (the three-legged lioness) and other resident lions. Gorongosa guides spotted Tripod earlier this morning, and just the day before had witnessed a young sub-adult female lion successfully stalk and kill an Oribi (a small ungulate) on the floodplain at 3 in the afternoon.
It’s the dry season and much of the wildlife congregates around waterholes this time of year, so part of our daily work is to document and map waterholes to better understand wildlife movement. No lions here, yet. But we saw many other animals drinking up…
At sunset, we sit and wait on the edge of the floodplain waiting to see or hear lions as they emerge from their slumber for the day. Jeff begins experimenting with the thermal camera as night falls - pics to come soon! We hear lions call in the far- far-distance.
We’ll be back out in the wilds of Gorongosa National Park tracking lions starting tomorrow!
The Gorongosa Lion Project Team