Monday, May 30, 2011

Thank you Jonathan!!

Jonathan Perez-Rivera left Gabon last night after spending the past 4 months working with orphan calf Victor and training his Gabonese caretakers. Victor is now steadily gaining weight and we're learning valuable new information about the growth of West African manatees through the data Jonathan carefully collected. We hope he can return to Gabon to continue working with Victor once he finishes his Masters degree in Puerto Rico. He has done a fantastic job and I'm very impressed with his efforts despite very remote and rustic field conditions.

Jonathan and I met up in Libreville this past weekend and spent both days discussing Victor's present and future, as well as other possible future work he might do for manatees in Africa. And of course we had time for a farewell beer at the Tropicana before he flew home on Sunday night! Cheers and safe travels Jonathan!

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

News for the week of May 23, 2011

A new online article about my manatee work in Senegal was posted yesterday and they used some of my photos... click here to read it!

I arrived back in Libreville, Gabon late last night after a 42 hour journey from Florida. All 190 lbs of my gear made it with me and it's wonderful to be back in Africa! It's the height of the dry season here in Gabon which is a new experience for me. I'll be working in Libreville for the next 2 weeks... I'm applying for the necessary permit applications to do manatee research in Gabon and for the samples I plan to export back to Florida in July, and finalizing logistics for my fieldwork in Congo and southern Gabon. I'm thankful to be able to use the WCS (Wildlife Conservation Society) office again to work from while I'm here. More news as soon as I get out to the field!

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Victor continues to grow!

Victor, the orphan manatee calf being rehabilitated in southern Gabon has now reached 30kg! This is a good milestone because it has taken a long time for him to steadily gain weight. When he was rescued he weighed 27 kg, but he lost weight for awhile before he adjusted to his diet of soy milk. For manatees (unlike people) fat is good! West African manatees are generally smaller than their cousins the Florida manatee, but no one has ever raised an African calf in captivity for this long before, so we don't know what normal growth is. Victor is providing his caregivers, consulting vets, and everyone else involved lots of new information.

To celebrate Victor's growth, caregiver Aimee made a Victor cake. Let's hope there are many more cakes to celebrate Victor's milestones as he grows and thrives!

Unfortunately funds for Victor's care are running very low, and he still needs captive care for at least 1 1/2 more years. If you can help, donations are gratefully accepted at:

Victor the Manatee, c/o the Marine Program
Wildlife Conservation Society
Attn: Grace Seo
2300 Southern Boulevard
Bronx, NY 10460 USA
Tel: 718-220-8156

In 2 days I'll be traveling back to Gabon to meet Victor and to do fieldwork in the lagoon where he lives. I'll be looking for other manatees there as well as the habitat to assess the plants that manatees eat. This summer I'll also do manatee surveys in the Congo, and I'll post all my news here on the blog, so check back soon!