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Gearing up for Gabon

Plane tickets are purchased and I’m getting ready to return to Gabon on Sept. 20. Logistics details are starting to fall into place and it will be an action packed few months in Africa. Here’s a brief overview of some of my plans:

– I’ll be traveling to N’dogo Lagoon in central Gabon to do surveys of this area (faithful readers may recall that I tried to get there last year but was foiled by broken planes). In 1995 my boss Buddy Powell named N’dogo as one of the Eight Critical Areas for Manatee Conservation, so I will be following up his work to see how manatees are doing there 12 years later. Bas Huijbregts of WWF has offered to assist me with lodging and a boat at Gamba for 2 weeks while I’m there.

– This Fall I’m also partnering with WCS sea turtle researcher Angela Formia to combine our efforts for manatee and sea turtle interviews and boat surveys at Akanda National park in northern Gabon and Corisco Island (home to West Africa’s third largest seagrass bed) on the border of Gabon and Equatorial Guinea.

– The United Nations Environment Programme, Convention on Conservation of Migratory Species (UNEP CMS) has invited me to participate in a meeting in the Canary Islands this October to draft the West African Manatee Action Plan. I’m still working on funding to get there and hope I can, because it will be a unique opportunity to work on conservation of the species with people from all over West Africa.

– In late November I’ll be presenting this Gabon research as a scientific poster at the Sirenian Workshop (for you non-marine mammal folks, manatees and dugongs make up the Order Sirenia) and as an oral presentation at the Society of Marine Mammalogy biennial conference in Cape Town, South Africa.

I’m looking forward to it all!!

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