Tuesday, 4 January 2011

Happy New Year

2011 has arrived leaving me wondering what happened to 2010 which just seemed to come and go in the blink of an eye. Maybe the Mayan prophecy for 2012 is correct after all!

December began with zebra spread out across the Makgadikgadi with some still drinking from the Boteti River and grazing nearby whilst others were grazing on the eastern boundary of the National Park. Rains had been quite light and sporadic with only a few of the surface waterholes containing water. This meant that many of the zebra chose to remain near to the Boteti River until there had been further heavy rainfall to ensure that there would be drinking water available to them before they headed east. Other zebra decided to take a risk and moved east in the knowledge that there should be some water available to them but they would have to search for it.

Unfortunately, one of the collared zebra which had remained near to the Boteti River had a very close encounter with the resident lions. They are two of the biggest female lions people have ever seen with both weighing over 200kgs and so it is no surprise that the collared zebra didn’t survive the encounter.

As December wore on everything began to dry out even more until a couple of big storms passed through just before Christmas. One storm caught me whilst we were grass sampling and instantly flooded the roads causing us to seek shelter and wait for the storm to pass – we were sat there for 3 hours! As always, the sun eventually reappeared and quickly began to dry everything out once more allowing us to carry on with our work.

With the recent storms it appears that the zebra herds have finally migrated east with large numbers being seen around Jacks Camp. I hope that this means that the wet season has now arrived in earnest which brings its own challenges. I’m sure it won’t be long before the mosquitoes are everywhere and I will have to be very careful not to get stuck in the wet mud of the pans!

With the arrival of the rains comes new life. In the last update I mentioned how one of the collared zebra had recently given birth, I can now add that a further collared zebra gave birth around the 10th December. There are more foals being born all of the time and it is quite incredible to see so many young foals within the herds.

I have recently posted some photos from the Makgadikgadi in 2010 to my website and if you click on the following link you can view these images - http://www.zebramigration.org/gallery/

I would like to thank you all for your support for the research during 2010 and I hope that this continues through 2011. I hope that you all have a very happy and prosperous 2011.