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Off to Sette Cama

It literally took all day last Monday to buy gas and food, pick up the boat motor and pack car with all the supplies for Sette Cama. Since I’m getting used to this pace by now, I don’t worry about rushing, and work on my computer between trips to the various grocery stores and other locations. The gas station was low on fuel so they limited me to 100 liters, but I was able to leave money to have more bought the following day and sent up to us later.

“DeDe”, a great Gabonese guy who worked with me last year, is working with me again this year and is the recipient of one of the stipends I am giving to train Gabonese biologists in manatee research techniques. He has previously worked with “Ibonga”, the local sea turtle NGO in Gamba, so he has a background in conservation work. He has eyes like a hawk and can spot wildlife at insane distances, and since he grew up on this lagoon, he knows every little cove and mangrove island like the back of his hand. Which is saying something in a 60km long lagoon with literally thousands of islands.

We finally left Gamba at 6pm, just as the sun was setting. The sun sinks like a stone here on the equator, so within a few minutes we were zipping along the dirt road in the dark, 3 of us packed into the front and one poor guy packed in back with the gas drum, the boat engine, a kitchen stove we were bringing to the house, and all our other gear. After the road ran out we bumped across the savannah on a sand track with wheel ruts that were sometimes so deep the car lurched like a carnival ride. But the air was cool and the track was remarkably clear for the rainy season (sometimes it floods and is impassable). And just before we reached Sette Cama we came upon an elephant grazing on the savannah, lit by the almost full moon. Elephants don’t like surperises, so flash photography is unadvisable unless you want to get flattened. So I don’t have any photos- I just enjoyed the moment.

We arrived at the WWF house, part of the Eaux et Forets (Water and Forestry Ministry) Brigade, which sits at the edge of the lagoon with the ocean behind it. We were greeted by the 3 other researchers living there- Cathy, an American PhD student, Richard and Joseph, her two Gabonese assistants. They are studying the red-capped mangebeys in the forest here.

The WWF field house at Sette Cama- very comfortable!

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