Back from East Africa, …. hopefully dancing again soon to its beauty
This time the spotlight was on four major tasks:
(1) Get the palaeo-ecologists / limnologists (Rob, Stephen, Katie and Dave) and their enormous equipment from Nairobi to Chencha to allow them taking samples in that tiny hidden lake in this archaeologically important landscape (analysed by John and Kathryn Arthur’s team)
Lake Chencha from above.
(2) Have a look at the Acacia species on the way up to see whether we can see something exciting there (Aida’s project), which will let us model potential climate change impacts on species
(3) Get an overview on environmental gradients and associated variability in land cover (Phil’s project). Look out for his future research into the modelling of vegetation-atmosphere relationships using regional dynamic vegetation models. You will be surprised.
(4) Extend the database of biophysical vegetation structure measurements in East Africa and take GPS coordinates of the different biomes (as well as locations of these exciting Acacias)
The trip itself
From left to right:
Phil, Rob, Stephen, Katie, A., Aida (in the back…look properly), and Dave
It started off all nicely, the sun was shining and the four flat tyres were distracting only little from the beauty of the landscape.
Plans changed slightly once we reached Southern Ethiopia. The palaeos stayed in Chencha enjoying the the hospitality of the locals and the adventures of sinking boats. With the collected cores containing sediment from the Gamo Highlands they will soon be able to reconstruct past environmental change and document human impacts on the environment over the past c. 5000 years. In case you want to know how ecosystems and their interaction with environmental change and humans in East Africa have evolved, look at work by Rob , Stephen and Jemma .
Aida, Phil and me, however, went on to face the raw quality of Jimma town aiming to gain a glance on Jimma transect, one of the three study sites of the ICIPE CHIESA project (Climate Change Impacts on Ecosystem Services and Food Security in Eastern Africa). With the friendly help of Rob’s local PhD student, we measured some of the biomes, only briefly interrupted by heavy thunderstorm rains. June is heavy rainy season after all. Be assured, the nighly thunderstorms are a must see (even if coackroaches and rats appar to be regular guests at the hotel we stayed in).
Valley of the Omo River, Ethiopia.
Aferwards, we recovered in Arba Minch National Park, a rough gem with horrendous roads but rewarding wildlife views (yes! I finally saw my first hippo head) and campsite.
Aida and Phil.
The car’s trouble worsened with time, letting us call into various garages during the subsequent journey. Reunited with Katie and Stephen (the rest of the crew disappeared to Addis) we ignored the car’s shy pleas and conquered the sandy desert west of Marsabit (Note: we did get chased by an angry forest elephant in Marsabit NP, which was incredibly exciting. But sheer panic prevented us from taking appropriate pictures for evidence. Sorry).
Lake Turkana is stunning. Beautiful. Absolutely unbelievably beautiful. If you can face the thrill, go for a swim (like me and Aida). There might be crocodiles around, though.
Further south, on the way to Maralal and back to Nairobi, we sampled Acacias and measured woodlands, scrubs and deserts. At least until we hit the road frequented by robbbers. Can it get anymore exciting than that. Our freshly hired police escort was very polite and friendly, throughout. Thanks again to you both.The car finally got a proper repair in Maralal. Feel free to contact me for excellent garages in Arba Minch, Marsabit and Maralal.