Over the past week we have had a visiting team from the Centre of Collaborative Conservation, Colorado State University. Headed by Dr Robin Reid and Dr Randy Boone, their mission was to collar fifteen Loita wildebeest across the Mara and monitor their migratory movements through a GPS text every 4 hours.
We started this operation on the OOC Olkotroto plains and darted three males. We soon discovered that Wildebeest have a good sixth sense about the intentions of humans in vehicles making darting beests a dodgy experience! Female beest are a trickier catch than males as the males will sometimes stare you down giving you long enough to get the dart in them. Females on the other hand can smell something is up and keep you chasing in endless circles.
In the spirit of Collaborative Conservation Robin, with Dickson Ole Kaelo from Base Camp Foundation, organised educational trips for the KGS (Kenya Guide School) students and the local schools to learn about the project and witness the collaring.
The collars have been tailormade to fit the shape of a Wildebeest neck and the straps are fitted with a powerful arial so they can get a good enough signal to text us on their travels. Each collar has a tiny magnetic-triggered time bomb fitted to it (the little black box in the middle of the picture) and this will explode exactly two years from the time the collar is fitted, so the collar drops off. This will negate the animal needing re-darting in order to retrieve the collar.
An old female destined to be one of the first .Com wildebeest. The school kids are going to name each of the wildebeest with a Maa name and we will be able to follow their movements live on the web for the next two years. This old lady was named “Enkoko” meaning ‘grandmother’.
In the two days on Motorogi and the OOC we collared 7 Wildebeest, 4 males and 3 females and the crew then went on to collar in the MMNC and Ol Kinyea/Maji Moto.
We have been monitoring all the .Com beests on “Gnu Landscapes”