In my thirty two years here at Ngorongoro we have had some pretty serious dry seasons but in all those years the situation never progressed to the point that th veterinary department had to collect the carcasses of the dead cattle and burn them, fearing the spread of diseases. Now it has happened.
During the last couple of weeks the rains have come and the situation is getting better, but the grass came to late for many of the older and weaker animals. There was just nothing for the cattle to graze on for weeks at a time. The rains are just in time for many of the cattle to survive.
Here in our immediate area of Olbalbal there are not so many cattle. Since we live on the edge of the desert, the herds here are mainly sheep and goats. These thrive in the desert areas but the drought this year has been so serious that even some of these hardy animals have succumbed.
Empakaai is a small crater in the Ngorongoro mountains just above us here at Olbalbal. A beautiful reflecting lake takes up most of its floor.
Yesterday eleven people died when a Cessna Caravan plane, carrying a single pilot and ten passengers crashed near the crater. Cessna Caravans carry tourists to many points here in Tanzania, Ngorongoro and the nearby Serengeti among them. One of our own diocesan Flying Medical Service air Cessna 206’s crashed at nearby Enkoporoni without loss of about a year ago. The FMS plane was carrying medical personal to to the twice monthly clinic there.
Once again the rains have come to North Maasai country. A few short days into the new season and one questions whether the plains here on the edge of the Serengeti were ever dry. The grass, although still short, gives the landscape a welcome green tinge replacing the ochre dust that for months has been the view where ever one looked.
With the heavy rains in the Ngorongoro highlands comes the flooding of the dry river beds. A phenomenon that can be the undoing of the unwary stranger and sometimes even the Maasai themselves. Less than a week into the rains, three people are dead. And these casualties are not the normal ones, children playing in the sand of the bone dry rivers or women digging for hidden water. Rather OleSeku and two young warriors braving the knee deep rushing water were taken by the sudden shoulder deep rushing wave.. The bodies were found a couple of miles down stream. It happens every year, but seldom to strong adult men.
I have been struggling with the connection to the internet ever since I returned from leave more than a year ago. Often there is no connection at all or the connection is constantly breaking off. My nephew Steve suggested that I look into a satellite connection. I looked on the web and most providers supplying such connections charge over $4,000 for the equipment and installation. I discovered that a Swiss family that has lived in Arusha for many years and are old friends of mine are providers of satellite internet. On contacting them, they said that they could give me used equipment for a fraction of the normal cost and the monthly cost of minimum bandwidth would be quite reasonable. Yesterday the system was installed and it works great. Now I have a good connection to post my blog, get the news and read a couple of magazines that I subscribe to.