marahelmuth on Lake Victoria Islands Tour Apr… Jeanette on Lake Victoria Islands Tour Apr… marahelmuth on Kampala 4/18 to 4/21 Dottie Lewis on Kampala 4/18 to 4/21
Biwa Rhinoceros Sanctuary – April 16, 2011
Larry drove Joanne, Jim, and I there; even though Joanne and Jim weren't going to partake of the rhino experience, Biwa was on the way to Murchison Falls where we were all going, so we all went together. We saw lots of wildlife just getting to the main office, including monkeys, many birds, and bushbuck deer with the pretty pattern on their backs. There are no fences here, and I signed my life away, agreeing that I might die, and I should run up a tree if charged by the rhinos, and not to hold the preserve liable. This tends to make you think about just how big these creatures are, and how you might not want to do something silly just for a sound or picture. Larry and I went on with the guide, who was dressed in a full uniform and carrying a long gun, down the rough road in the safari vehicle to the pond where the rhinos drink, and near there three of them were munching grash, Bella, Hassan, and the 1.5 year old baby Augustus. We spent quite a while, and I photographed and recorded their sounds. They are fairly quite sounds, but they did make some munching and footstep sounds, and a highlight was when Augustus wanted to nurse and made a high pitched sound to the mother. I didn't feel like enraging them so they would make fighting sounds! Another highlight, with a fear factor, was when Augustus seemed kind of interested in us and walked toward us, and then Bella got protective and came close enough, maybe 30 yards, to make us back up and move toward the truck. We had to speak very softly so as not to disturb the animals, and the guide had a very pleasant softspoken Uganda-accented English as he gave me many details about the rhinos and the preserve. The reserve has existed since 2004, and the first five years were devoted to building a wall around the edge to protect the rhinos from poachers. In 2009 they received two rhinos from the U.S., and after that at least one from Kenya. All the native Ugandan rhinos had been killed by poachers, and often quite horribly. They now have 9 at at least two have been born there, Augustus and Obama. The babies gestate for 1.5 years and nurse for 2-3 years. They have a family unit that stays together. Since there are more males than females in the preserve, they will be getting 12 more rhinos from South Africa soon. Periodically frogs by the pond would let out a chorus of low sounds with many rhythms which I also recorded, along with bird sounds. Back by the office there were some caged blue and orange parrots (I think) and some weaver birds around a cluster of nests, more to record. They hang upside down and build neat round nests in that hang down from the branches. I also went into the pen to see the baby bushbuck orphans, which are kept there, if their parents had been killed, until they can be released into the wild. On the way out we gave a ride to a very articulate ranger who told us more about the rhinos and area, including the name of the gilded guinea fowl we kept seeing, a bird that looked like a big dark colored rooster with a blue crest on its head. After the preserve we drove to the De Venue Hotel, which was quite nice, and had dinner outside.
I lectured to 150 primary school students at 9am. They wore blue uniforms and seemed pretty attentive. Without any preparation I talked about listening, music, sound and my background. We made a little piece out of singing a few notes and clapping, with music notation and a kind of sonogram representation on the chaulkboard. There was no electricity so I could not plug in my speakers, so I walked around with my computer to show them loon sounds and play it for them. It all seemed to go well and a bunch of them came up to me at the end and asked for URLs for music and software.
Then we went downtown so Larry could meet with a government official about a TATS program, and had lunch at a nice cafe where I had African tea and a chicken burger. They were both very good.
We next went to the dance troupe’s place, which is very beautiful, but were unable to meet with them. Since that was canceled I had time to go to the Uganda museum which was very interesting. I hope to get some pictures up here next.
We came back to the guesthouse and I slept for several hours and then had dinner, bananas, beans, rice, and the others had pork. Joanne is from NY and Jim is a math prof from Hawaii.
The power just blew out in a big wind so I had to retype all that and there is now a candle burning in the room.
Arrival in Uganda
Boston was cold and rainy, and I finished a review there. In the Amsterdam airport I managed to scan in a score for a performance in Seoul, eat breakfast, and lose my credit card going through the second security check before getting on the flight to Entebbe.
I was impressed with KLM’s food, but I did not know the flight was going to stop in Kigali, Rwanda, until I got on the plane. Delta had switched my flight a couple of weeks earlier. I was a little worried about going through Rwanda, having heard about awful events decades earlier, but reading in my guide book on the plane, found that Kigali is actually one of the nicer cities in the area. We only stopped 45 minutes, and never left the plane, arriving in Entebbe around 10pm on April 14, after around 25 hours on 3 flights.
I was pretty stressed in the beginning, as getting ready got really rushed toward the end, but once on the flight to Amsterdam felt quite elated: this trip is actually getting off the ground! I managed to sleep a bit on both flights, and felt pretty good in spite of no sleep the night before leaving. I was surprised that 80% of the people on the last flight were white, and more than half of the people got off at Kigali.
The line at immigration was long and slow with a number of people getting irritable about others going at the inappropriate time, and the security fellow did not intervene. A couple of women traveling with 3-5 children each went to the front of the line and no one minded about that.
Larry from TATS met me there and brought me to the guesthouse. I had some African food and beer and unpacked.
I will be flying to Entebbe on April 13, through Amsterdam, and arrive on the 14th. The plan is to give lectures arranged by Teach and Tour Sojourners (TATS, teachandtour.com), and record the sounds of wildlife while touring parks and reserves.
So far I know I’ll be spending time in Murchison Falls on the first weekend, and subsequently in some order, Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National Park (gorilla tracking), Queen Elizabeth National Park, Kibale National Park, Lake Mburo National Park, Mt Elgon National Park, Rwenzori Mountains National Park, Ziwa Rhinos Reserve, Budongo forest, the source of the Nile River, islands in Lake Victoria, and Bigodi Swamp (bird sanctuary).
Lectures will be at several universities.
It’s a whirlwind trying to get ready for a complicated trip involving recording audio and video, safaris, and presenting new music and technologies to different groups.