Monday, February 16, 2009

Field Journal - Day Four


For not having gotten any chimp poop yet, today feels already extremely busy and yet somewhat fruitful!

An extremely old man who lives locally told us tales of a “recent” elephant dung less than a kilometer from Difongo, so we headed out just after 9 am today.

Perhaps the sun or the water (or the palm wine) had gotten to the old man, but his measurements were slightly off -- it wasn’t until we’d walked for over an hour that he said we were “close.”

It was amazing how easily this man could disappear among the leaves, and how quietly and quickly he moved through the underbrush!

We saw a lot of evidence of an elephant route -- we nearly followed it by accident on our way out! But we did finally come across the dung.

It was old -- maybe a month and a half, and was sprouting greens!

Elephants are less plentiful this side of the river, but also less hunted.

On the route out, we were able to look around a little more and discovered what we believe to be a chimpanzee bembe smash site! And next to it, a smashed termite mound!

The forest is FULL of guenons too, but who knows for how long considering all the dead guenons I’ve seen hanging from bikes in the last 24 hours alone...

We returned back to Difongo in the midst of a bit of an incident!

Two armed men we’d encountered along the road previously and had assumed were hunters were in fact the sole two members of an anti-bushmeat squad.

They had stopped in Difongo to see us and had apprehended a hunter who had been passing by with some illegal meat.

With the help of Polycarpe (who is the eternal diplomat), they were trying to explain to this man the error of his ways.

And of course like any other official we’ve encountered here, he had his ratty little folder of Congolese-flag-decorated documents, and a dirty little plastic bag holding some very fragile and enormous reading glasses (and the required scowl on his face).

Thankfully, the scowl wasn’t for us!

With at least 6 near fights as they confiscated the hunter’s meat, it was quite a ruckus!
Considering all that’s transpired today already, I’m ready for some lunch and a nap!

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