Friday, January 8, 2010

[Mayank] Lions stole my beer

The wheels of interdisciplinary research got off to a grinding start last night, as the biologists viciously maligned the computer scientists in a blog post about melodramatic responses to dangerous and poisonous wasps. After Tanya's allergic reaction to the wasp's sting, however, the zen-like calm of the budding field researchers broke down, and the wasp was hysterically beaten to a pulp with a pink sandal.

But life in the field isn't all about frivolous games of poison-wasp.

Even after two days, the serenity of this field station is still stunning. As Iain puts it, it's one thing to see animals in a zoo, and it's entirely another to see them in the wild, going about their business (which is often wonderfully intelligent and complex). Especially with the very real threat of extreme personal danger, as a family of wild elephants decides to munch on the grass 30m away from the dining area every night.

We're still in the introductory part of this course, so we've been going out on extreme safaris twice a day - once in the morning and once in the evening. This generally involves hanging out of open-top Land Rovers (or minivans) speeding through dirt roads, in order to get a feel for the vegetation and wildlife on the massive Mpala Ranch.

Which brings me to lions. Just after lunch today, we got a radio message about a lion sighting. They had just killed a camel, so we set off to see these elusive beasties feeding on their prey. The plan was to come back by the evening and get on with Beer Hour, apparently a notable and worthy Princeton Biology tradition.

To cut a long story short, we got too close, too quickly, and with too many people. We found the corpse of the camel, with its hind literally eaten out. We heard the grunting and breathing of the lions, but alas, saw no lion. Which isn't really all that bad for day #2, considering all the animals we've seen so far.

After waiting several hours for the lions, we gave up and came back to the field station. By this time, however, the general level of fatigue meant that Beer Hour has now been postponed to tomorrow.

1 comment:

  1. nice to note you've been reviving your wordsmithery -- at a 'nature in motion' level, i strongly recommend the film 'creation' starring paul bettany as charles darwin. dark yet starkly wonderful as a contrast between the idea of universal oneness and the 'blind watchmaker'.