Saturday, February 16, 2008

Of kob, lion, a salt mine and ankole cattle

We are now half way through our time in Queen Elizabeth NP. The students have been quite amazed as they worked with the local cattle belonging to the villagers in the nearby community of Lake Katwe, one of 11 villages in the park. These cattle, which have horns over a metre in length, can readily be caught and held by two or three men so that bolld samples can be collected. We have already checked the samples and found that about 25% of the animals have the infectious diseases called brucellosis, which can easily be transmitted to humans. In people it causes a nasty condition called undulant fever. After visiting the cattle the students went straight on to the salt mining lake near the village and saw how this very ancient trade is started by the men and women who work in the pans, collecting the salt and shipping it out to market. The brine water is very corrosive and pople have a hard time wading in the solution for great lengths of time.

Our wildlife work has involved the capture and study of Uganda kob, a beautiful russett coloured animal about the size of a white-tailed deer, and yesterday, most interesting and exciting for the students, the darting of a 9 year-old male lion. This we did in conjunction with Dr. Ludwig Siefert so that he could continue his porgram of monitoring the large predators in the park. The lion's old collar was almost worn out, and the signal would only carry about 300 metres, so we got to him just in time.

Today we received two text messages telling us about the temperature at home. One said it was minus 37 Celcius, the other minus 35. This is about a 70 degree difference form what we are experiencing. Not too tough to take!

Tomorrow is make-and-mend day for everyone, so some will lounge at the pool, others will visit the bat cave (it has an estiamted 10,000 Egyption fruit bats
in it), and Jo and I willl snooze, read, and so on. I will try and add to mycollection of bird photographs if I can sumon the energy.

'til the next time.

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