Thursday, December 27, 2012
The story today starts yesterday afternoon when Erin decided we should put out some meat in a cage (without a door) near the place we believed Pride was living. Then we should set up a motion detector camera to see if she came to eat the meat with her cubs. The odds weren't very good--jackals, caracals, warthogs could all come and take the meat, too. But it was better than just driving around, hoping to run into her.
So Erin and Anja sat in the front of the truck and Alice and Laurent (a couple from Paris) and I stood in the back of the truck, dodging the branches of camelthorn trees as we drove. About 30 minutes out, nearly to our destination, it began to rain. RAIN. I mean RAIN! We huddled in the back of the truck, but it got harder and harder until we were drowning.
Erin stopped the truck and we all tried to pile into the front of the cab. Five adults trying to fit in the cab of a small truck! It was like clowns at a circus getting into a small car. We pushed and shoved and finally got 4 1/2 of us in. Poor Laurent was only half in, the other half being pelted by the deluge. We began to see that this would not work, so we made a plan to drive about 10 minutes to the dam house for protection. Again, poor Laurent got in the back of the truck and the four women in the front. We wanted to take a picture but none of us could reach our pockets because we were so tightly packed in, and besides, we were not a pretty group.
Finally to the dam house where we fell out and went inside to dry off a bit. It rained for a long time, but we were snug in our house. Volunteers had left the place a mess, so we spent our time cleaning it up and making it presentable for the next group that slept out.
When the rain stopped, we got back into the truck. The temperature had dropped at least 30 degrees, and of course we were still wet, but we gritted our teeth and wrapped damp towels around us to try to stay warm. We set up the trap and the camera and went home to hot showers.
BUT it was all worth it because today Erin went back to the camera and found the meat gone and pictures taken. When she looked at them she saw a beautiful picture of a very healthy Pride and two cubs! Everyone here is ecstatic now. Erin is planning on sleeping out there tonight, putting more meat out, and finally capturing Pride and fitting her with a new, working radio collar. Yea!