When we woke up we ate some hard boiled eggs before a few students joined Nate on his tour of the sanctuary of Tacugama. I decided to stay behind and enjoy the peace that came with an empty bungalow in the middle of a rainforest. It was such a beautiful place to be with your mind, that I couldn’t bring myself to sacrifice the time I could be alone to wander through the sanctuary surrounded by people.
There are ancient trees here, covered in spots of lichen and orchids. While Lungi was hot and miserable, Tacugama is shaded and stays a pleasantly warm temperature all day, and even cool enough at night for a sweater.
You see the towns in pictures and documentaries, and you always know you’re lacking something because it’s second hand. Driving through the outskirts of Lungi and seeing how many buildings are crumbling or were never completely built is an overwhelming sight after the clean streets of Schilde. Scraggly chickens and stray dogs run around the brush piles and cooking fires as our car speeds past. The people in torn t-shirts with their bare feet do a double take upon noticing our skin color. The air is thick with the smoke of agricultural fires burning along the side of the road.
So begin my tales from Africa. I will be pulling entries from my journal I kept while I was there, so hopefully I can bring you, as a reader, as fully into the experience as I possibly can.
Wednesday, May 21st, 2014
Four days ago I was sitting at my college graduation in Dallas, and now, I am on an airplane. Granted there has been a flight in-between, I moved out of my house, back to Florida, and packed away my life into a giant backpack, but sitting here on this plane, it’s like I’ve just blinked.
Before going into the details of my days spent sweating in the jungles of Sierra Leone in search of chimpanzees I wanted to reflect a little on my trip. Now, it’s true that this is no travel blog, but it was meant to not only teach people about science and conservation, but also to chronicle my journey from confused college freshman to fully fledged primatologist. I think that there is no better way for you, as readers, to understand the realities that come with being a primatologist, conservationist, scientist and woman than to give you an in depth look into what I faced every day in Sierra Leone.
Exhaustion. Since arriving in Belgium after my journey in Africa came to a close I have done little but eat ravenously and sleep. I am both physically and mentally exhausted from eating little but ground nut and rice and trekking through the bush for up to five hours a day. While finally having the opportunity to shower and use a real, flushing, toilet I find being around more than a few people at a time overwhelming. I try to describe to my friends the differences in the culture and attempt to tell stories about the games the village children would play, but explaining that it was an average sight to see the children dancing around and whipping each other with branches was quite normal gets me strange looks.
Did you know that the Drongo, a small bird that lives in the Kalahari desert has been observed crying wolf? That’s right. The Drongo actually calls out false alarm calls to drive away competition. Sounds that are usually reserved for seeing predators are being used to scare off other birds and cause them to drop whatever juicy insect they’ve got their claws on!
Education is key to conservation. I think that this is an incredible message worth sharing. It is what I aim to do every time I post on endangeredliving.com, our FB page or my twitter. I want to educate people and teach them about species they may never have heard of, so that they can care. You have to know something exists and that it is in trouble to be able to want it to help it. It is such a basic idea that can get over looked.
So I encourage you to share this photo, to remind people how important it is to learn every day. Keep an open mind and it can lead to a great idea that might just change the world.
A little while back I posted about the Aceh Protected Forest, a national park in peril and some ways that it might be improved. But there are still a lot of parks in peril out there, one that especially comes to mind is Masoala National Park in Madagascar. Madagascar has lost 85% of it’s forest to slash and burn farming, but it’s also one of the most unique ecosystems on the planet. How can we keep the lemurs leaping through the quickly falling forests of Madagascar? Well I guess you’ll just have to keep reading…