Friday, 17 August 2012

Back From Tanzania: 1st Pictures: Ndarakwai

     After an overnight flight from Heathrow to Nairobi, and then in the morning onto Kilimanjaro Airport, we arrived at Ndarakwai Camp just in time for lunch. After lunch we were shown the place where we were going to be doing our first project of the environmental section which would be waterhole maintenance. The picture to the left was taken on this recce walk on the first day showing Kilimanjaro behind the acacia trees of the savannah.

     The first day of project work consisted of getting very muddy from the splashing from the hoes, forks and spades removing sediment and grasses from the bottom also and widening the channel.  This meant that in the dry season more water volume would be allowed to get though the channel and therefore get to the drinking places on the watering hole. Also in the rainy season the water would be more likely to  run better 
 and not flood and block the flow in places. The picture above shows a section of the channel after we had done half a day's work on it, the picture to the left shows some zebra who probably weren't that grateful at the time from the amount of sediment we were stirring up, but probably appreciated the water levels going up. We spend the morning of the first and second days there, and the afternoon of the first day clearing vegetation from a nearby stream and the second afternoon clearing poppies.

     The picture on the right shows us clearing an area by a small river of the invasive Canadian Poppy. This plant is taking over from established plants in the ecosystem which is causing a problem for the animals who eat the threatens plants. Not only do the animals have fewer plants to eat but also eating the poppy by mistake leads to illness.


On the third day we further helped the animals in the national park by making paper from elephant dung we had collected earlier to be sold at a tourist office to make revenue for anti-poaching measures. To make the paper we first began to mash up the boiled dung as well as some used paper pulp. We then squeezed the water out of the dung a few times to remove the excess water and then combined it with the paper pulp. This was then added to PVA glue and water in an oil barrel which was scooped up in trays and flipped over to onto a table and sponged the excess water off (seen in the picture above right) and left to dry as seen in the picture to the left.


Later that day we set off to see the Maasai a 45 minute trek away. There we were introduced to the wives of the chief of the 'boma' (or village).  We asked them some questions such as the roles of wives and husbands food etc. The answers were that husbands look after the money and the cattle and the wives are left to do everything else at the boma that their husbands have delegated. After the questions we were grabbed by the arm by some of the women and led to various areas to shown how to make their famous jewellery. We all made a small bracelet with wire and a string, and then were given the opportunity to buy some of their proper necklaces and models. That concluded out activities in Ndarakwai Camp, we all had a good night's sleep ready for the early start the following morning.

    The next day we went on Safari starting from Arusha. From there we travelled through the villages and towns where we saw scenes such as that pictured on the right where you can see a market with a Maasai person in the background. We then passed through Tarangire National Park seeing some of the wildlife that Tanzania is famous for and the locals are so proud of such as elephant and wildebeests as you can see below.

The next day we  climbed up to the crater rim of the ancient Nogrongoro caldera, and descended into the crater itself. We were told by our driver that the occupation of safari guide was one of the most sought-after jobs in the country. It wasn't hard to see why the country's scenery and wildlife was such a good tourist attraction and source of employment.  The Ngorongoro crater is also a wondrous display of biodiversity which is valued and treated with respect. The famous elephant, rhino, giraffe, buffalo and lion are all located in this one national park and we were lucky enough to see elephants, buffalo and even a few lions on our day there! It was an amazing experience and one which made the whole group appreciate Tanzania's natural environment and its value to the local people.