Sunday, February 20, 2011

A Love of Africa

I know now that for the rest of my life, I will be trying to get back to this place as much as possible. Not necessarily Turkana, but the other parts as well that I have not yet seen. I really am beginning to fall in love with Africa. The sunrises and sunsets here are unlike any other. At the conclusion of an especially windy day, the sands are in the air and the sun lights up the sky in a crimson orange unlike anything I have ever seen. Whats more, are the rains. For the first time since we have been here, it rained and the face and mood of the environment was deeply changed. No longer was the sand whipping about in dust devils. The rich smell of earth and wood was everywhere and the cool breeze was blowing. Once the rain started it continued throughout the day, and every living thing gave off the impression of utter dependence on this process. Every insect, every bird, every plant and every tree was making the most of this brief moment of moisture. The smallest insects emerge to feed and mate while the larger ones come out to hunt feed on the smaller. The Acacia tree will bloom, if only briefly, in a small puff ball of a flower, and the landscape will become briefly green and verdant in spots, with no memory of the dry semi-desert it once was. Fortunately, we were able to go on a field trip once the rains died down, as there is a risk of flash floods and general sogginess, to collect insects and observe the Kerio delta wetlands. Once we had piled into the to small boat in the to shallow water with far to many people, we set off mud covered and happy. we saw some amazing birds and insects. In fact, some were to amazing, with comments from Dino Martins, like "see that tiny insect floating there, that's very deadly".
This ecology module which we just concluded truly was fantastic though. With Dino, we were able to study and observe some amazing interactions. The biodiversity in such a hostel environment is astounding. Within a single acacia tree, there can be a multitude of interactions taking place between ants, bees, birds and so much more. The delicate web of this environment is dependent of so many things, foremost being water. As we could clearly see, rain is treasured but scarce. All this fantastic Wonderfulness, as there is no more proper or fitting way do describe it, is continually threatened by things like dams (one is being proposed in Ethiopia which would cut off more than two thirds of the water supply to lake Turkana) and overgrazing. I hope with all my heart, as I am beginning to ask what I myself can do about it, that these harmful processes can be averted through simple education and conservation.

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