Cornell University offered me the opportunity to take a topical field ecology course located at Mpala Research Centre in the heart of the Laikipia District of Kenya, Africa. My safari adventure was constantly on the move, bumping up and down the savannah in our Land Rover in pursuit of the wild and, at times, with the wild in pursuit of us!
Every morning began with hornbills, sunbirds, fork-tailed drongos, doves, and starlings arousing me out of a gentle sleep to an African sunrise. Once out of my tent, I’d follow the stream to the breakfast pavilion, stock up on water, and head out with my binocs and cowgirl hat. From then on, the day was filled with everything wild and fierce from scouting for animals to studying the terrain to conducting research. Each day we would discuss important issues of conservation, such as boma degradation and water shortages, and the latest research conducted on the premises of the research centre, such as the sexual selection of lions and widowbirds. Beneath the scorching sun of day, the excitement bustled about watering holes and carnivores paced beyond acacia trees, but in the darkness of night, only the moon, headlights, and expert trackers guided us through the prowling perils. When we returned from the night filled with lurking lions, hopping hippos, and countless other fiends of the forest, I would go to bed with the sound of hyenas whooping outside my tent- sometimes bellies full, often bellies empty.