Friday, 18 February 2011

Some old photos

The transition from slides to digital images continues to be an awkward process; when most of one's photographic archive is still in transparency format it's often frustrating not to be able to use an image in a hurry. I've recently had a batch of scans made from slides taken in 1990, during my first year in Tanzania, when Charles Foley and I lived in an old hut at 2000 m on Kilimanjaro and undertook a census of the elephants in the montane forest. Even there, and when in residence for less than a year, I had to have a garden, seen in the image above. It was just a long narrow strip of dug soil, planted with bits and pieces of plants begged from friends (there were no nurseries in Tanzania in those days), or annuals grown from seed. It gave a lot of pleasure, and certainly brightened the rather drab immediate surroundings of the hut.

The hut, with our ancient Land Rover 109. The Afromontane forest behind is dominated by Cassipourea malosana (Rhizophoraceae), whose straight white trunks earn it the name Pillarwood.

The neighbours.


Elephant dung marked with an Alitag. We monitored these piles for months on end, observing their decay rate. The elephant census was based on a dung count, with three variables being important: the density of dung piles in the forest, their rate of decay, and the defaecation rate (the standard figure being 17/day). Knowing these three factors enables elephant numbers to be estimated with reasonable reliability.


  1. Fascinating. What an adventure
    Didn't the elephants try to eat your garden?

  2. Not this garden - it was just a bit too close to the hut, but in a later Tanzanian garden they ate my cannas and the buffalo ate everything.

  3. ah nice to see the Landrover in its former glory


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