Monday – Kuti sized triplets
I saw something special today! Something that’s rarely seen. Something pretty cool.
Usually hyenas have one or two cubs. In the exceptional case that there is a third one, it usually doesn’t survive long enough to even ever see the sun (since they spend the first two to four weeks inside the den).
But like I’ve said many times before: In Liuwa, things are a little different. Today we got to the den of Mutata clan and found a female nursing a small black cub. When we got closer we saw that under the cub was another one, its sibling. Then some commotion formed and from somewhere under the two cubs came another tiny black head. A third cub. What? TRIPLETS?!
And as if that isn’t enough joy, they are also (I’m sure you guessed it…) Extremely cute. And two weeks old. Kuti’s size when we first found him. Safe to say I’m struggling to contain myself.
Mother LHY-076 has a tremendous challenge in keeping all three cubs alive, and to be honest: the odds are not in her favour. But she is strong and determined and gives equal care to all three. We will keep a close eye to see how this unique situation develops.
Tuesday – Moving
Ever get those ‘I need a change’ attacks? And then you start a new hobby? Or you move your furniture around? Well, ZCP Liuwa collectively had one of those attacks. We decided that Dean’s tent should be moved. And then the visitors’ tent too. While we’re at it.
Easy enough, one would think. A tent is easily lifted and moved. Right?
In theory, yes. Practically: We live in a woodland. Woodlands are full of obstacles. Or so it turns out.
Not assuming that to be a problem yet, the four of us each grab a corner of the guest tent (which is falling apart by the way) and lift it up. We start walking until we are abruptly stopped. We have walked into the cover for one of the vehicles. No panic, with some instructions (lower, lower, lower, no not on the ground! Watch those roots!) we manoeuvre the tent through and continue. Three meters on a tearing sound stops us in our tracks this time. Oops, didn’t see that branch. Oh well, let’s continue, the faster we do this the faster it’s all over.
BANG, something falls on Peter’s head. Oh… Oops. Branch came down. Nevermind, we are here (Peter is fine by the way). Is the tent still alright? Well… A few more tears, but that’s a small price to pay for that feeling of change. And the tent hasn’t been waterproof for a very long time now anyway. Did I mention it was falling apart too?
Now Dean’s tent. This kind of goes the same. It’s just that when we are almost there, we find out that the tent is in fact too big for the spot Dean had in mind. But Dean is not planning to change the spot, it’s too perfect (apart from the size, but oh well). So a few small trees and shrubs have to move. When they are bent to the side, the tent will fit. Easily. The floor will never be flat. But that’s ok. The door… Can the door open? Not really. But Dean ensures us that he is lean and flexible enough to move past that small tree every time he will want to enter or leave his tent. Not entirely convinced, Daan and I walk back to the main area while Dean and Peter set about putting all Dean’s belongings back in his tent. A few minutes later all we hear is excited words. Dean is happy about the new location of his tent and our need for change is satisfied. What more could a team of weird researchers want?
Friday – Roll it gal 3.0
Peter and I are visiting a den. A den with five very active and playful cubs. Actually, they are so playful that they pay attention to little else and even forget their surroundings sometimes. One of the cubs in particular has experienced the risk of that. It runs and it runs, trying to get away from its sibling, it trips over a root, loses its footing and rolls over. But it recovers itself quickly, gets back on its feet, runs again… And disappears. It falls straight into the den’s entrance. Peter and I burst out laughing, especially when the other cub needs a few meters to realise its buddy is gone and stops in confusion, obviously not having a clue where he went.
Then the clumsy cub crawls out again, covered in dust. It shakes and then the game continues, off they go again.
Monday – how shitty days get better
You know those days that have you sigh: ‘This is not my day’ before 9.00 am?
Yeah. I’m having one of those.
It all starts out nicely by finding seven hyenas on a den, but unfortunately the grass is so tall that I only manage to photograph the nearest ones for ID’ing.
An hour later I have spent about 20 minutes moving gear around and trying to ‘field-clean’ my backpack after the container that held my breakfast turned out to be not so breakfast-proof and yoghurt has covered everything that was in my bag.
Another hour later I am trying to kick-start through the pain in my thigh after it got caught between earth and motorbike. An anthill encounter that has sent me flying but without the nice landing this time.
Plus one more hour and I’ve spent half of it finding one collared wildebeest, hidden in the tall grass.
I’ve had enough. Not my day. Time to go home.
On the way back it is only one (ok three) small things that cheer me up like nothing else; my favourite Liuwa bird: A Kittlitz’s plover! (Favourite for a totally irrational reason, FYI). And what I’ve been hoping to see for a while now, is finally right in front of my eyes. Two Kittlitz’s Plover chicks! Tiny, fluffy, cute. Literally all I needed to brighten up my day.
Sunday – Roll it gal 2.0
Today I fell off my bike again. Rolled off if you will. Yes, I automatically checked whether nobody had seen that (nope, nobody saw that). It had something to do with me turning too far and the bike wobbling (it was on the stand, I’m stupid, I know that) and me losing my balance because of that and rolling backwards and because I had been turned so far, BAM there was the Liuwa sand all of a sudden.
While I sit on the floor laughing at myself, I take this picture through the gap of the hindwheel of the one single animal that caused all the trouble. Kind of worth it.