I got up and out early this morning to go recover some small mammal traps with one of Mpala’s researchers Jake Goheen. I was awake at 5:30, before the sunrise, and wandering around in the cool pre-dawn african morning. I really love mornings here. It’s extremely clear and today at least was so bright I had a moon shadow. I’m hoping to catch many more sunrises in the next couple of months.
We set off for the UHURU plots where Jake had laid some 150 traps that needed to be recovered. The driving is really rough here – I’ll take pictures of the roads one of these days. After bumping our way for about 10 minutes (a very short drive around here actually) we entered the exclusion plots. The idea in these areas is to exclude different sizes of herbivores and try to determine what effect that has on vegetation structure and other wildlife. So with a series of different sized electrical fences, chain-link fences and posts they’re able to control pretty specifically who’s allowed in and who’s not.
The acacia tree undergrowth everywhere makes for some really difficult tramping. With primary thorns over an inch long (frequently 2 inches) and secondary hook thorns that grab your clothes and don’t let go it was really difficult to navigate our way from trap to trap. We found five or 6 species of small mammal this morning though – it was a good haul, and 44 individuals all together! Below are some pictures, though I’m afraid I’ve forgotten a lot of the scientific names. Some of the most exciting traps though were those that birds had wandered into. They always came flying out extremely flustered but I’d have liked to have gotten a better look at them. No snakes yet though I have seen two lizards around camp. I’m anxious to get going on my own work.