Olivier and Richard returned from my first mine surveyed -- Bodumbe -- approximately 30km from here and right near a big bunch of forest purported to have chimpanzees!
Parts of my hypothesis are dependent on conditions found at many other mines in developing nations -- poor sanitation, poor health, and a resulting susceptibility to new diseases.
These conditions proved to be too true -- as Richard and Olivier regaled me with tales of just how disgusting the conditions were at the mining camp.
Additionally, while doing transects and looking for evidence of chimpanzees, they found a LOT of human feces in the forest. In terms of an area primed for an emerging infectious disease, this area was great!
The downside of this mining camp, though, was its lack of chimpanzees! The miners there love eating chimpanzee SO MUCH that most of the chimpanzees in close proximity to the mine have fled (or died) and little evidence remains of their presence. There were a lot of monkeys, but unfortunately, Olivier and Richard also found a LOT of hunters during their walks in the forest.
The next mines will be surveyed in January, and with luck I’ll be able to find conditions that can best exemplify my hypothesis.
Polycarpe tells me too that hunters and miners and fishermen alike all come, village-bound, during the holidays to celebrate with their families. But come January 2nd, it’s like a party in the forest, he says. There will be “no people on the roads, because they’ll all be hunting in the forest!”
So we shall see!!