Sunday, February 8, 2009

The Next Steps

We spoken about it a lot recently, but we will be going into the forest to get faecal samples from chimpanzees near the Keda mine (near Likati, DRC)

For the super curious, the GPS points are:


As our survey team also saw a lot of evidence of elephants there, (though unfortunately a lot of chimpanzee orphans too) it should be a trip that yields a lot of new information for us.

Likati is about 80 kilometres from our town of Aketi, and our three main guys will be heading out by bicycle this coming Tuesday to arrive and set up camp.

Adam will be heading out with Seba via motorcycle on Wednesday, and Seba will be back on Thursday to come and collect me. It’ll be the first real time since we’ve come to Congo that Adam and I will be separated, and, with no way to check up on the other, it’s a bit terrifying.

It could be too that I’m really just not looking forward to traversing the bridge that separates us from Likati again -- the bridge that nearly gave me a heart attack last time we crossed it -- I expect I’ll stay on the back of the motorcycle this time instead of crossing by foot but not knowing where Adam is or how he is doing for a day here, considering the possible options of things that can go wrong... oof!

Here are our motorcycle drivers on the original trip to Aketi, crossing a particularly ancient, rusty, and unstable bridge.
Which I will, in a few days, have to cross again!!

I am, however, extremely looking forward to being in the forest again. There’s something refreshingly simple about tent life. Sure, it’s a bit smelly and sometimes messy, but overall there is just so much less to worry about.

I’ll be collecting chimpanzee feces from night nests, both on the ground and potentially some tree-nights as well. There is also the opportunity to find chimpanzee feces underneath nests so we’ll probably be in the forest for 2-3 weeks until I get all 20 samples that I’ll need for a good sample size.

We’ve been busy getting things ready on this end. We can thankfully buy lots of our provisions IN Likati, so we won’t have to port them all the whole distance, but certain things we must buy here, like cans of tomato paste and onions and spices for our BOUNTY OF BEANS, that we will eat for nearly every meal for the entire rest of February!

On the communication front, you probably won’t hear a lot from us during the rest of February. We obviously aren’t bringing the generator into the forest, but we’ll bring the BGAN for emergencies and Adam’s computer, since it’s lighter and more portable. We’ll try to post a “we’re alive” entry once a week, most likely on Sundays again, but that’ll be it. Not only will we not really have access to email, but I’m told (and could have guessed that) my cellphone will not have reception.

We’ll be online probably one or two more times before Wednesday to wrap everything businessy up -- so if you have questions or anything, make it quick! Hehe.

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