Fear & Awe at One Hundred Meters

6 Dec

With trunks in the air, searching for our scent, a herd of twenty-seven elephants halts their procession through the forest. The mothers encircled the young, sensing possible danger.

“Are you ready to run if we need to?” “Nope.”

It wasn’t only fear that paralyzed me but their sheer awe of being so close to such majestic animals and knowing that they controlled my fate as much as I controlled theirs. Without a looming threat, the elephants began to relax and forage in the woodland as we watched. I could have sat there all day.

All of my coursework in Africa has been for one purpose: preparation for directed research. I had learned about the ecology and management of the wildlife. Finally, it was time to put my skills to work. I spent eight days hiking through six wildlife sanctuaries in the Amboseli Ecosystem. I collected data on animal movement, counts and the habitats they live within. Five days later, I have produced a thirty-six pages research paper that I am very proud of. Tomorrow, I will present my findings to the community. I will recommend ways for them to better the sanctuaries for the wildlife that uses them. It’s amazing to know that as much as Africa has impacted me, I will make it a better place in return through the field work and analysis that I’ve done.

As my days in Kenya come to a close, I’ve been taking time to think about what this experience has meant to me. It’s not the research paper that I will remember. It’s the interactions I’ve had with the wildlife and the people I’ve met here. I will forever cherish the memories of walking with giraffe, eating lunch with zebra and getting the pee scared out of me by a speeding warthog. I will not forget the friendships I’ve formed or the kindness shown by the locals here. I’ve been touched on such a personal level and I’m a different person than I was three months ago. Oh Africa, you’ve done a number on me. How will anything else ever compare?


One Response to “Fear & Awe at One Hundred Meters”

  1. boileradmin December 6, 2011 at 7:28 pm #

    Nothing else will ever quite compare. That is how a semester abroad can be so powerful.

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