A fourth for the group

My apologies, this post has been typed up on my laptop since last Sunday, and I have been trying to upload some photos to be featured in it, but the internet speeds here just won’t allow me to do it. Instead of making you all wait any longer, I have decided to just post it as it is with a promise that I will edit it in the coming weeks when I can include more. In the meantime, check our my Instagram (@lovettleo) for some of my recent posts, featuring shots from the last two weeks. Thanks for understanding, and enjoy!

 

It would seem given the amount of time between this and the last post I should have an awful lot to regale you all with, off the top of my head however I am struggling.

We left Gorro lodge Monday 1st May, having had a pretty successful week, both in terms of the species we were hunting, and the big game which we were not. I am looking forward to returning again soon, due to both the biodiversity and the small luxuries (Colbert lighting the donkey boiler at 5am so there is always hot water, Praise Him!)

Sadly, whilst we were at Gorro the orphan bush baby that Ryan and Melissa had been fostering went missing, it is our hope that he simply left and is now living as he should, he was certainly big and strong enough to do so. It is more my belief, however, that he was predated upon, as we had a very windy night on the Thursday and this is when he failed to return. Then again, I have always been a pessimist so don’t pay me too much heed here.

Here are some of my shots from the last few days at Gorro, including the lizards and geckoes which I don’t believe I have posted at all yet.

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Transthick-toed gecko (Pachydactylus affinis)
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Tropical spiny agama (Agama armata)

After leaving Gorro we returned briefly to Medike to drop off all our kit to free up space in the car and then set off to town to get some supplies for the coming week and pick up a new recruit. Ryan II, as he shall be referred to for the moment, is from Ontario, Canada, from a small town way up north not too far from the banks of Lake Superior. When I say small we are talking roughly 2,000 people small, pretty sure most villages in the UK outdo this, although correct me if i’m wrong. He has quickly fit in to the group, stays quite quiet most of the time but has a real passion for snakes and is obviously quite clued up about a few different species. Another keen photographer, he has been very interested in a lot of my macro work as this is something he really wants to practice and has given me a few tips mainly around astro-photography, which is something I have never attempted till we got out here. Pics will follow I hope but I need quite a bit more practice in this area for the time being.

The first few days back at Medike we took a little slowly to try and accommodate for Ryan II’s insane amount of time spent traveling (two 9 hour flights with a 16 hour layover in Ethiopia to split them followed by a 7 hour bus journey). We walked up the railway track to a bushman painting site which was very cool to see, although it has unfortunately been plagued with quite a bit of graffiti over the years. The track was also a massive hotspot for lizards and even a species of sandsnake, although the latter, as you will see, managed to remain somewhat elusive.

The following morning we actually spent skinning a 2m long snouted cobra that was found in the road dead but relatively undamaged. I wish I had images to show you of the process  but i’m sure most of you will understand that I was far more eager to get my hands dirty than stand back with the camera at this point. I actually dissected the animal first, (seems Ryan I is not too keen on guts,) and I managed to have a nice look inside to identify the various organs and located a parasitic nematode in the stomach which Ryan shall pass on to one of the prof’s he knows who is studying them at the moment. For those of you who are interested the snakes lungs had been turned to puree by the car tyre so it would have been a very quick death. I will post some photos of the skin once it is all dried out as the scales are really quite beautiful to behold (I promise!)

Towards the end of the week I actually had to abandon the group as I was feeling pretty awful, intense headaches and some joint pain. By Friday morning the lymph-node on the left hand side of my groin had also swollen nicely and so was causing some discomfort. Luckily Melissa already had a doctor’s appointment booked for that day so I went with her and managed to be seen fairly quickly and diagnosed even quicker, Tick Bite Fever. Thankfully, a relatively quick fix with a course of antibiotics, although they are very potent and give me a bit of a kicking themselves. Fingers crossed, come tomorrow, Monday the 8th, I should be back on form as I really have no wish to miss out on any more. I already feel I am running out of new images to show people, as in the last five days I have probably only taken 25. Bring back the 200 a day average please!

The final thing I will say today is just to answer a few of the questions I have received. Firstly the scorpions will eat basically anything they can overpower, all types of insects and some of the biggest ones will take down small amphibians and mammals if they stray too close. Most are quite active hunters and you will see them at night scuttling around looking for prey items. As to how we locate them, most of my time in the field is spent lifting and turning over rocks to find them hiding from the sun beneath, however we also do some night work scanning with a UV light to pick up their glow. The UV technique is very useful for the arboreal species (the ones that live in trees) which are almost impossible to see during the day, plus its far easier on the back and hands!

Okay, so it seems I have contradicted myself since the beginning of this post, and have gone on a little here. However, the pain endured to get this post written and posted, given the AWFUL internet here, may mean I have to keep you waiting a little while for the next one. Regardless, please keep reading this blog, and checking out my instagram (@lovettleo), as I really love and appreciate the support!

 

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