Butiama Bed & Breakfast

Butiama Bed & Breakfast

Saturday, 27 December 2008

Velvet Monkeys

I apologize to those who might be offended by the explicit nature of this image, but I felt obliged, after my post on a female monkey, to introduce some gender balance on my blog, specifically on monkeys.
The institution at Usa River near Arusha where I attended a short course a few years ago was frequently visited by a group of monkeys from the surrounding forest.

At the end of lectures one afternoon, I witnessed some of the course participants, intrigued by the presence of the monkeys, cautiously attempting to approach the primates but each time they got close the monkeys moved away to a safe distance.

In contrast, when one of the resident tutors passed near the monkeys, the monkeys did not move away. A Zambian in my course predicted the monkey's reaction as the tutor, a white European, approached and walked past the monkeys.

Having some experience with monkeys at Butiama, I argued that monkeys appear to recognize familiar faces and attach some character - hostile or friendly - to those faces. When I took regular walks, I came across groups of monkeys that were not particularly alarmed by my appearance but maintained large distances with other human beings.

I believe they kept the distance for a good reason. Monkeys are notorious for stealing crops and many people around Butiama have to chase away monkeys trying to steal farm produce. I have not chased a monkey save for that rare occasion when someone left the door open and one of the monkeys got too close to my breakfast.

If it is not obvious, this specimen is a male velvet monkey. I think I now understand where the 'velvet' originated from.

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Wednesday, 24 December 2008

The receeding snows of Kilimanjaro

This photograph, below, of Mt. Kilimanjaro, which I took a few days ago while on a flight from Nairobi to Dar es Salaam shows very little snow on the eastern side of the mountain's highest peak, Kibo. Older photographs of Kilimanjaro show snow cover reaching almost half way down Kibo's slopes.
We are approaching the height of the warmer months in Tanzania and it is expected that some snow cover should be lost because of higher temperatures. However, the trend shows that global warming or - as others say, deforestation - continues to erode the snows of Mt. Kilimanjaro much faster than fresh snowfalls from the colder months can regenerate.

A few hours after taking this photograph, I was on another flight from Dar es Salaam to Mwanza and I noticed the mountain had far greater snow cover on the western side.

The photo, below, shows Mawenzi peak on the left, Kibo on the right, and farther in the distance, Mt. Meru. I have heard that moments before the sun rises, Kibo's shadow covers Mt. Meru, and those who have seen the sun rise over Kibo from Mt. Meru believe it is the most spectacular sight in this galaxy.
I am inclined to agree. During my Kilimanjaro climb in August I took the photo below from Barafu Camp on the slopes of Kibo showing Mawenzi just before sunrise.

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Tuesday, 16 December 2008

The old road to Mwanza

This photograph (above) shows part of the village of Butiama, approached from the north on the old MusomaMwanza road. This used to be quite a busy road before the bitumen surfaced road (photos, below) was built between 1977 and 1983 and traffic moved to the better road. It used to take the entire day to drive from Mwanza to Musoma.

The old road to Mwanza
Italian contractors Lanari Sogesca Estero built the 93-kilometre stretch from Musoma to Nyanguge. After completion, the part between Nyanguge and Mwanza still had some tarmac left over from past works. However, it deteriorated considerably in the 1990s and was resurfaced again a few years ago and has since contributed to several fatal accidents. Today, it takes about 3 hours by bus between Mwanza and Musoma.
The Mwanza - Musoma road near the village of Sabasaba
It is amazing how roads can transform the activities of an area. A few years ago the government resurfaced the 11-kilometre road linking the village of Butiama with the main MwanzaMusoma road at Kiabakari and most of the motorists who were using the old Butiama to Musoma road changed routes and began driving to Musoma through Kiabakari. Now the old road has only a few passenger vehicles (daladala) plying through between the village of Nyamuswa and Musoma.
A bus on the Mwanza - Musoma road. The contractors widened the old road, but forgot to widen this bridge. Trucks and buses normally yield to allow oncoming traffic to avoid a possible collision.
The Butiama to Kiabakari road has become extremely busy and has even produced some small-scale mining activity at a particular spot which has been named "machimbo" (mines). Construction of houses has also stepped up along the way.

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