No day is ever the same!
For the sake of this blog let me try and break it down into the main thematic areas of my work. As the sun rises I am on my way to the security office to check up on the patrol teams. While their jobs include collecting data on wildlife sightings and threats to the conservancy as part of the SMART project, it is my job to check up on their progress and ensure that the phones are all working and collating data correctly.
Once I have that sorted, I jump in the plane with Michael, Loisaba’s new pilot on his morning flight patrol to see if we can locate any elephant groups. Elephant monitoring, as part of my role supporting Space for Giants, is one of my most important jobs. After hopefully spotting a couple of suitable groups I go out by vehicle to locate and start identifying them. We are still at the beginning of this elephant ID project so usually they are new elephants but it is always exciting to see if I recognize an old friend. Over time we hope to identify all the individuals that pass through Loisaba to build an accurate picture of demographics and population size. I always keep an eye out to see whether any elephants are in trouble (e.g. signs of injuries) and alert the KWS vets when necessary. The cow elephant that was treated a few weeks ago on Loisaba for an arrow wound I had already identified in August, a female by the name of Esther.
Morning over, I head over to the Cactus Removal Team working in the south of the Conservancy. Loisaba, unfortunately suffers from an aggressive invasive species called Opuntiae engelmanii, a variety of prickly pear cactus. The elephants love it and it spread it across the Conservancy in their dung. It is critical for the health of the rangelands that it is removed. I check up on the team, monitor the work done and mark out new plots for its systematic removal.
Back to the office I sit down to collate the elephant sightings, draft the SMART management reports, enter the cactus removal data and catch up on emails.
Living and working on Loisaba Conservancy is unique. The incredible beauty of the place, the friendly colleagues and the exciting work. I love it!
By: Izzy Parsons