Tomorrow I finally head back out into the field! It's been a good but long 3 weeks of logistics planning and I'm ready to get outside. On Friday afternoon I arrived in Gamba, a town located at the southern edge of N'dogo Lagoon. I'm being hosted here by WWF who very generously puts me up at their guest houses in Gamba and Sette Cama, helps me with logistics (transportation to buy boat fuel, food, assistance in finding a boat driver or ecoguides to come with me, etc.) and provides me a boat for my work. Sette Cama is about 40km from Gamba, at the north end of this huge, beautiful lagoon. Some of you may recall that I spent a week there last year and had a very high sighting frequency of manatees. This time I'm trying to get there quickly because I've had 4 reports of dead manatees there in the past month (3 in 1 small lake just off the lagoon, which is strange). Unfortunately none of them have been sampled yet, the people who saw them took GPS points and photos, but that's it. Hopefully I'll be able to locate the remains. There is no targeted hunting in this area, so the deaths are a mystery.
This isn't the way I like to see manatees, but carcasses are extremely valuable to help understand the genetics, life history and physiology of these rare animals.This photo was taken by Jerome Xavier, who was in Sette Cama last week. I met with him in Libreville to discuss some GIS map work here's doing, and he offhandedly mentioned he'd seen a manatee carcass in Sette Cama. It's amazing how much I find out through word of mouth here.
There is no internet in Sette Cama, so my next postings will come when I return to Gamba next week.