Been so busy since I got here, getting to know the both the African Bat Conservation and Carnivore Research Malawi teams based here at the Conservation Research Africa urban research base. We have been busy putting our heads together about how we are going to try and catch these Straw coloured fruit bats Eidolon helvum, as well as adjusting to the new lifestyle. I thankfully adjust pretty quick to though to new surroundings and so when I am not in the Office I am trying to sort out my new house (/hut) to get it to be as fabulous as possible as soon as possible! Everything is still very dry here weather wise and it will only be a few weeks max until the rains are here. I have never lived through a rainy season so I am excited for it! In addition to getting my house all ready, and the Ediolon project, we have three students with us this rainy season so we should be busy busy.
At the moment workwise the key thing we are trying to do is get these Eidolon helvum tagged so that we can track their movements across the City and safeguard sites they are using. We are trying to build some taller mist net poles, get the tags to a lighter weight and scope out sights for us to tag at. Our volunteers have been busy helping us with mist net repairs, tag testing and tracking training. This consumes a lot of our time right now and it will be super exciting stuff once we get our first bat tagged, in the pic you can see some of the team with one of the new poles. It isn’t however as easy as you would think as they have great eye sight and hearing, so they see us coming! In this picture we are trying to get the pulley system unstuck and ended up being a bit of a tug of war / team building type exercise!
Radio tracking is one of my most favourite things and so I cannot wait to get started, despite the long nights. I love the insight you get into an animal’s ecology and behaviour and you also see some beautiful sunrises! You also get a more in depth opportunity to peer into an individual animals world, which for bats is rather extraordinary seeing as they are flying mammals of the night, so rather elusive for the most part. In addition to a busy bat team, the carnivore team is also really busy here trying to remove a collar and a snare from two hyenas from the urban clan.
I have enjoyed going to the big city food market, one of the busiest, craziest and funnest places in the City. The market is amazing you have many people in your space trying to sell you cheap veggies and they are super fresh. You can get a bucket of tomatoes for £1/2 depending on your haggling skills. I also cannot wait to get to Dapp again (a charity shop here) as well as to the clothes market, which is found on the other side of the river in Area 2, opposite to the food market. I joined Tom and Esther when they were buying the camp supplies so that I could kit out my own house! Managed to get an orange kettle as well which I am excited about as it seems to be the colour theme for the new house! This is my first time joining ABC as a staff member and I am super excited to get my own little pad as manager.
The outdoor living is real nice though anything or anyone could just walk up to my fridge, including this grasshopper (I think). But even in my room, a snake has so far moved in (back out now thankfully), various geckos (I like them though as they eat other bugs), and a big old cockroach (thank goodness for mosquito nets! they protect from all sorts of bugs!) but the cutest little guy are these tiny toads. Of course the other super cute animal round her is Mara, she is the camp dog and a beautiful queen. She moved in here towards the end of my stay in summer 2018, I am so excited about having a dog again in my life ?