Tuesday, March 10, 2009

I received word last week that I have been awarded a grant from Save Our Seas Foundation for manatee tagging in Gabon! I am very excited, I've been working to raise money for this for the past 3 years!! The award will fund 2 GPS tags, belt and tether attachments, satellite time, some tracking gear, boat fuel for tracking, a stipend for a Gabonese technician to help with tracking and alittle of my salary. I now need to raise the rest of my salary so that I am able to do the 6 months of fieldwork required, but I have fingers crossed for several other pending applications. This will be the first time this technology has been used to study West African manatees, so it is really going to be cool! I plan to go back to Gabon to do this work in Fall 2009.

I arrived back in Florida last week and am still catching up with myself. It was a productive but exhausting 6 months in Africa! I am looking forward to unpacking for alitte while and focusing on the next steps for work in Africa, which is basically fundraising. More on that next... Most importantly though, I'd like to extend my annual huge thanks to all those folks who helped me so much in the field this year.
In Gamba and Sette Cama, Gabon: Bas, Bas, Cathy, Richard, Joesph, DeDe, Jean-Pierre and all of the WWF Gamba and Ibonga staff. Also Herman for allowing me to visit his property and for all his manatee information. And Andrea and Sylvie for companionship in the field.

Bas, Bas, Andrea and Sylvie

Team Torquatus! Ziko, Cathy, Richard and Joesph who shared the fantastic WWF house at Sette Cama with me and helped with manatee work on top of their mangebey research.
In Libreville, Gabon: Aimee, Alden, Heaven, Pierre, Ruth, Michelle, Joe, Christian, Maite, Mr. Tchen, Pauwel and Stephane. Also thanks to Angela, Matt, Miguel, Tariq, Danae and Gary for keeping me laughing!

Ruth as a leatherback with Aimee laughing from the doorway
Pierre and Michelle
In Senegal: Tomas, Papis, Prisca, Pablo, Luis M., Haidar, Victor, Paco, Cristina, Junior, Luis, Iris, Momar, Madame Thiam, Emma, and all the fisheries people at Matam and Navel.

Planning meeting in Dakar before the manatee captures
Veterinary student Prisca and Biologist Papis
Momar of Wetlands International and Madame Thiam of Senegal National Parks
Last but certainly not least! Even though they were back in Florida, I am thankful for such great support and help from Cyndi, Susan K, Monica, Julie, Bonde, Margie and Chip. Your help from afar is appreciated more than you will know!