Blast from the past

#### Spent all day yesterday driving from Serengeti *back* to Arusha — nine hours, two punctures and a broken hi-lift jack later, arrived in Arusha sweaty, grimy, and as excited as a human could possibly be about good food. At any rate — with last minute travel preps and a looooong travel day, this blog post got tucked away in the back of my mind until I woke up (well-fed!) this morning. I’m hoping I can appease you all with a blast-from-the-past note-from-the field from my *first ever* trip to Serengeti in 2009. Now I’m off to find a cappuccino. I did mention that 90% of my mental energy out here goes to thinking about food, right? #####


Notes from my first days in Serengeti: I am so stunned I don’t even know what to write.

I am in the Serengeti.

I am smack dab in the middle of a natural phenomenon. In my first 24 hours here, I have seen a dozen things that I can barely pronounce. Impala, Topi, Hartebeest, Buffalo, gazelle. Baboons, Hyraxes, jackals, giraffes, zebra. Elephants, hyenas, lions and leopards. The baboons hang outside our house, like raccoons of Africa, but bigger and more agile…and much, much uglier.

Ingela, one of the field researchers and a spectacularly wonderful woman, reminds us to pull the front door closed lest the baboons invade (this has happened before). She also reminds us to occasionally look up in the tree in the side yard, as it seems to be a favorite rest-stop for a the neighborhood leopard. As I watch a giraffe meander past the outhouse out back, I feel vaguely like I have stepped back in time. Or landed on mars. What is this place? (Answer: AWESOME.)

Over whiskey and chocolates, Phil and Ingela and I discuss the important things in life, such as the following:

Q: What to do if you encounter a lion while on foot?

a)Run screaming

b) Make yourself look really big and menacing

c) back away slowly, maintaining eye contact with the lion, but without tripping. At a “safe distance” turn around to face the direction you are heading, and absolutely do not look back.

d) wave your pot and shout “kakakakakaka.”

Answer: Word on the street is that “c” is textbook correct, but “d” has proven to work after sunrise in the Serengeti. I do not personally know anyone that has attempted a, b, or c and lived to tell the tale. Both Craig and Ingela have survived on variations of d.

I think I’m going to like it here.



About ali swanson

I'm an ecologist studying how large carnivores coexist. I spend way too much of my time trying to stop hyenas and elephants from munching my camera traps!

One response to “Blast from the past”

  1. elfinelvin says :

    What an incredible experience! Have you learned any more about lion encounters since then?

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