Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Stay Tuned...

I'm now back in Florida for manatee work here, but I'm proceeding with fundraising efforts to continue work with West African manatees, hopefully next spring and summer. This blog will resume when I return to Africa!

Sunday, November 05, 2006

A Huge Thank You!

To all the wonderful people who helped and supported me in Gabon, shared their advice and boundless enthusiasm, and most of all made me feel welcome. Your dedication to Gabon, it's protected areas and wildlife is phenominal, and I truly hope I can return to work with you all again and contribute more to understanding the West African manatee there. In particular I would like to recognize the wonderful collaborative spirit that I feel between Wildlife Trust and Wildlife Conservation Society.

There are many folks I'd like to recognize, but I only have pictures of a few. Those who escaped my lens for now, but who were integral to making my work and overall experience there a great one, include Lee White of WCS Gabon, Rombout Swanborn of Operation Loango, Solange Ngouessono at Mayumba National Park, Steve Blake, Sharon Deem, Francois Horrent, Evelyne, Heaven and Christian at the WCS office in Libreville, Pierre and Daniel at the Cas de Passage, Bas Hujibregts and Pauwel DeWacher of WWF, Robert and Sosa at Evaro Lodge. And of course Howard Rosenbaum in New York.

And those who didn't escape my camera...

Han and Josey, who introduced me to the Petit Tropicana, the best beach bar in Libreville.

Bruno at his favorite office position. Bruno was a huge help with logistics, even if he liked to jokingly give me a hard time about things!

Aimee, Rich and Boo in Mayumba. Thanks to Rich who suppported my survey work there!

Simon and Ant enjoying a Mayumba sunset

Nic and Jean Marc surveying Evaro Lake. Thanks again to Jean Marc for all his support and enthusiasm for manatee work there. I hope we can do some GPS tagging in this freshwater system in the future.

Tomo talking to EcoGuides while being interviewed by National Geographic. Thanks very much to Tomo for all his help at Iguela, including loaning me his personal camping gear!

Alban and Ladji provided lots of laughs at Iguela.

All the EcoGuides and boat drivers I worked with were very knowledgible about where to find manatees, and had the best ability to spot wildlife from a distance that I have ever seen. I appreciate all the hours of slow boat driving, advice on manatee habitat and seasonal movements.

Romain lent us his personal boat to survey Akanda National Park and maintained his good sense of humor about getting stuck in the mud and other minor logistical frustrations!

I made some great new friends who I hope I will see again before too long- Sandra and Kath....

Ruth! Best of luck with your future endeavors!

Josey and Angela.

And last, but certainly never least........ Tim (see below)

Tim wants a Blog

...or at least that's what he said when he first saw mine! For those of you who don't know him, Tim is a cetacean biologist who I met at a marine mammal conference last December. Over lunch with mutual friends he mentioned that he was looking for a manatee biologist to come to Gabon to study manatees there. I gave him a business card, never expected to hear from him again, and was very surprised to receive an email about a month later, asking if I wanted to start working on a proposal for manatee research. Hard to believe that was less than a year ago.

After my 2 months in Gabon, Tim and I have now developed a pretty good working partnership. We've learned how to work through each other's bad moods, goofy moods, my need for morning coffee, his need to disappear every once in awhile, and both of our need to take a zillion pictures. Other things I've learned alot about Tim over the past couple months:

- When he's not chewing on the biopsy darts, he has absolutely amazing accuracy at collecting genetic samples from whales at sea.
- He takes longer to pack for a 3 day camping trip than most other people would take to pack for a month.
- He never has any idea where he'll be in 2 weeks.

- He knows how to find great food anywhere, no matter if he's in a city or the jungle.
- He is absolutely certain he will be killed by a hippo.

So Tim, this blog is for you. Thanks for all your help with logistics and for introducing me to so many wonderful people and places in Gabon. You're a true friend and I look forward to more great collaboration between Wildlife Trust and Wildlife Conservation Society on West African manatees. I'll never be able to thank you enough for inviting me on this incredible adventure.

Cheers mate! ;-)

Friday, November 03, 2006

More Akanda Pictures
Below is a picture from another fishing village, this one is called Moka. The people were really friendly and most of them spoke English.

The mangroves are huge here!
Below is Ruth, the most enthusiastic paddler! She was such a good sport about spending her vacation day paddling after we ran out of gas. Ruth runs WCS's program at Langoue Bai in Ivindo National Park.Pin-tailed Wydah, a very cool little bird we saw in Akanda. Note the extremely long tail.