It's been dry. Not dust storm, dessert dry, but dry enough that the plants and animals are still doing their rain dances. November and December generally herald a short rainy season in east Africa, but with the exception of two decent showers, the most we've gotten are a few sprinklings of rain. The ecosystem is suffering accordingly.
And then Jill and Claus arrived. With rain. All night and all morning. Vehicle miring rain. Waterhole filling rain. Actually, it wasn't that much, it's just more than we've had to date.
So what, you might ask, do these characters Jill and Claus have to do with it? Well they are the Nomad relief managers, who fly into all the camps for 2-3 weeks at a time to give the managers vacation. Let me walk you through their last few months.
It started on October 12th, when I happened to be visiting Greystoke Mahale where J & C were on their first day relief managing. Off we went to watch the chimps. half way through, the skies opened up with an absolute downpour, first rain of the season.
After three weeks in Mahale, J & C took over Sandrivers Selous from Mike and Carol. Two days into their tenure, we got a short but very heavy squall, by far the heaviest rain until now. Next they headed back west to Chada Katavi. They spent three weeks in Katavi in an absolute swamp, with rainstorms that were so heavy they flooded safari tents. We're talking 66cm in less than an hour.
Finally, the relief managers were in need of a break, so they took a vacation to Germany...where they were met by heavy unseasonal snows. And now, they're back in the Selous so that I can go on a vacation. They arrive in the afternoon and by midnight, the rain began and still hasn't stopped. I think you can spot the pattern.
You may call it coincidence. But out here, dry as it as been, we can't help thinking it's something more. But we're not complaining; on behalf of the animals we'll take all the help we can get.