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It’s been a challenging week!

Late last week I received news that 3 manatee carcasses had been reported within 1km of each other near Akaka, which is an enormous swamp area on a river system between the N’dogo Lagoon (where I am) and the N’gowe Lagoon just to the north. It raised red flags to hear about 3 carcasses in close proximity, especially after we have been experiencing similar mortality here in northern N’dogo. It is an extremely remote area (4 hour boat ride from the village where WCS has a base) and my colleague Ruth, who heard about the carcasses, could not get there due to broken boats, no fuel and staff issues. She will try to get there today, which is a hugely generous effort considering she is not a manatee biologist and has alot of other work on her plate. (And oh yes, HAPPY 30th BIRTHDAY Ruth!)

I’m in Gamba and managed to get a really nasty cold at the end of last week that kept me bedridden with a fever for 3 days. Meanwhile I was planning to do boat surveys of southern N’dogo Lagoon this week, but the entire town of Gamba is out of fuel. This is especially ironic because Gamba wouldn’t exist if it weren’t for the Shell oil concession here, but apparently the fuel has to go several hundred miles north to be refined and then is shipped all the way back here for use. So no surveys. Instead I am preparing a training workshop for ecoguides that I will teach here at the end of the week and a school presentation I will give at 2 schools next weekend.

I was talking to a new friend this morning who just moved here from Holland (her husband works for Shell) and we were discussing the fact that living/working here takes alot of getting used to. People in our home countries don’t always comprehend why things take so long, why you can’t just get your work done. She is in the frustration stage at how hard it is to accomplish even the simplest thing, like buying gas or having running water that works so you can bathe. I am more at the acceptance stage. It can still definitely be frustrating, but I have learned that I have to spend more time in Africa to accomplish the work. Logistics are never going to be easy, it’s just Africa. But the reward is that the more I’m here, the more I learn and the more people realize I’m in it for the long-term, so they share more information, and they know to tell me when they hear manatee news. And there are so many great people here working so hard for conservation, that I am continually inspired and then I forget the inconveniences. So I’ll keep at it…

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