November 14, 2009
Writing on the morning of the 15th as early morning journaling seems to be becoming somewhat of a routine and a very nice way to start the day. Yesterday was another amazing day spent observing zebras in their natural habitat. Kai and I are already starting to notice patterns in their behaviors. The big, “harem master” stallions seem to spend much less time feeding than the others and more time looking around for danger and chasing their mares back into line. The smaller stallions, who seem to hang out on the edges of the herd are much less concerned.
After another 6 or 7 hours out in the field yesterday, we now have a total of 107 five minute samples of individual zebra watching! We talked to Mwalimu Ken and his advice was to analyze the data today and see if the patterns we are observing are reflected in the data and then perhaps use the remaining days here at Oldonyo Sambu to ask a slightly different and more specific question about some aspect of zebra behavior. We’re really interested in the differences between the behaviors of the two groups of stallions (and also getting quite good at determining the sex of an individual zebra from quite a distance), so hopefully the data are showing a pattern already and we can focus our efforts in a stallion-y sort of direction starting tomorrow.
I’m getting very good at distinguishing individual zebras from one another, which is very, very exciting! I love looking out at the herd and being able to think “Oh, I’ve looked at that one already!” I still especially love watching the zebra foals – I’ve seen few things in my life that are as awkwardly delightful and delightfully awkward as a very young zebra!
I’ve taken quite a bit of video of zebras, so I’ll share that with you all later and stop boring you with never ending descriptions of how cool I think they are!
PS Highlight of last night was when Kai, apparently while out of his tent to use the choo heard lions roaring in the distance (as we all were) and yelled “Maasai! Rafiki! Simba! Ndiyo!” (Maasai! Friends! Lion! Yes!), we think in the hopes of encouraging his Maasai friends to go on a lion hunt. This attempt failed, and all the rest of us heard in return was Kim verbally abusing him for being so very loud!