My second ever tracking flight! I have many animals to find but mostly our collared wildebeest. We need to know where they hang out so that Mboo and Dean can find them from the ground and do herd counts and other important stuff. The first 1.5 hours of the flight we find frustratingly few collars. Until we get more east. Finally. That's where they all are. From the air we see herd after herd and my receiver is going crazy. Which is then in turn driving me crazy with all those beeps. When we land after 2.5 hours in the air, I have a big smile on my face. Flying is awesome, but finding what you're looking for is definitely a bonus.
Thursday - peanutsauce
My Zambian sister Anna and I are having a bit of a discussion about the following (life or death) question: should you chop green beans before cooking them or not? I'm saying chopping is a waste of energy, I'm too lazy for that. Anna doesn't agree, her argument (easy eating) is a good one. However, we don't end the discussion in agreement, also because it’s such an uninteresting topic. But now that I've just catapulted peanutsauce into my nose by failing to eat a way too long green bean, I am tempted to say Anna is right. She's right, I'm wrong. Chop your beans, people.
Friday - WAAAAH
Sitting with sleeping Cheetah. It's just past midday and it's super hot. So our very own LCH-439 and her 2 cubs have flopped down in the shade and I've done the same. They look around and nap, I read a book and write the above. Then all of sudden there is a burst of panic. I hear some ruffling as the 3 fearsome predators fly up and run away. I don't understand the commotion but I fly up too and get ready to follow them. then stop to look around all dazed and confused. It was birds... 6 birds landed in the tree above their heads. Scary moments in Liuwa.
Sunday – Flying again
I don't know if this is the same for my colleagues, or maybe they just don't tell me about it but... I fall. I fall regularly. I would almost go ad far as saying: I. Fall. All. The. Time. Its actually quite a miracle I've never gotten more injured than a black eye and the odd bruise. So often I slip away in the loose sand, bump into a deep road I didn't see coming, get launched by a termite mound, etc. You get the point.
Take today... I'm looking for hyenas and decide to go to that hilly thing near that pan in the distance, from where I can scan for collars.
I approach it, look at the ground to find my way, realise too late that I'm now driving on an old porcupine den, see the collapsed tunnel that I'm about to drive into, can't change my course anymore, front wheel goes in, motorbike is stopped by the sudden dip, with a well-meant and rather surprised "f*ck!" yours truly is launched forward, and then sideward, foot gets stuck under the falling bike and so yours truly swings back and falls to the right. In addition to the boob-bruise, I now also know its possible to have a bruise on the side of your foot, people.
In a rather uncomfortable and really impossible position, surrounded by my bag and gear, I lie there for a moment, softly swearing and laughing at myself of course, as usual. My receiver (and therewith me) is still attached to the aerial which is still attached to the bike and as the icing on the cake, my right foot is stuck under the 120 kg motorbike of which the backwheel is much higher than the front wheel.
Because I always think in worst case scenarios I realise that if I can't free myself I will have to lie here in this painful position for at least an hour before someone can come to lift the bike off me. Let alone the embarrassment of course... Ain't gonna happen, hell nah! So I take off as much gear as I can and throw it to the side. I'm starting to lift the bike and wriggle my foot and eventually I manage to free my foot and get up. From there on it takes me another 5 minutes to lift the bike up, get it straight, and kickstart the thing. Another 5 to start it eventually, drive out of the ditch, and collect my poor Field gear. I'm exhausted. But off we go, find those hyenas.