Our First Week at Dibatana
September 26, 2013
By Ben Daggett, University of Vermont
Dumela! After many plane flights from all corners of the U.S., we all arrived safely to Maun on Friday September 20th. The first 3 nights in Maun at Island Safari Lodge were well received, and we spent the days getting to know Botswana, learning some Setswana from Sixteen (our group guide) and even having dinner with Round River’s founder, Dennis Sizemore.
After packing our gear, we drove through the bush to the Dibatana Research and Monitoring Camp on Monday. The drive was dusty and bumpy, but we were rewarded with our first two wildlife sightings in the bush. A male Greater Kudu (Tragelaphus strepsiceros) was seen watching our Land Cruisers before running away and some lucky people in our group even saw a Leopard (Panthera pardus) crossing underneath the veterinary fence!
Our days this week in Dibatana were filled with setting up lots of camera traps on the roads in NG 33 and NG 34, lectures/discussions on scientific papers, lots of wildlife viewing (including Lion (Panthera leo) tracking), and working on some of our first writing assignments. The nights consisted of tasty dinners after a hard day’s work and one of my favorite activities, which is listening and looking for wildlife with our flashlights. One of my most treasured night encounters so far was a face-to-face meeting (through my tent window) with a Spotted Hyena (Crocuta crocuta), which occurred on our first night in Dibatana around 10:30 PM. Luckily, the Hyena was just as surprised as I was and quickly fled into the trees!
It is hard to believe that in our short time here we have already seen so much and experienced so many new things. The natural power of this place is evident and has certainly heightened my passion for the conservation of this beautiful land. As we prepare to head to Khwai for the next two weeks, we are excited to get started with our wildlife counts and our personal research projects. For now, gosiame!