by Mike Loomis
Page 1 : 6-13 June 2012
|The journal below is based on the field notes Dr. Loomis took while working in Ebo Reserve. The journal is also annotated with photos. Dr. Loomis's daily diary entries, which are submitted to FieldTripEarth via satellite telephone, can be found on the Elephants of Cameroon: Field Diaries page.|
6 June 2012
I am traveling to Cameroon with Dr. Atanga Ekobo, World Wildlife Fund (WWF) Southwest Forest Program Director, who has been visiting the North Carolina Zoo for the past few days. We are taking a lot of equipment with us, but had no trouble checking our excess baggage. All of our flights were essentially on time. We traveled from Asheboro, North Carolina to Greensboro, North Carolina to Atlanta, Georgia.
7 June 2012
Our overnight flight from Atlanta to Paris, France was uneventful. Our flight from Paris to Douala, Cameroon was a bit late. We arrived in Douala and cleared customs quickly. All of our checked luggage made it to Douala. We drove from Douala to Limbe.
8 June 2012
I met with Dr. Atanga to plan our mission. Things will be fairly open. We will start our work in the Ebo Landscape, which is a new site for me. Desire and I started arranging our equipment.
9 June 2012
I spent today checking out our equipment and charging batteries for everything. It rained very hard during the evening. We hope to leave for Yabassi [map] on June 11.
10 June 2012
I packed my personal equipment and met with Derrick Mesape, the WWF site manager for the Ebo Landscape. Since none of the people Derrick works with have been involved in elephant collaring before, we have decided to take a few of our experienced team members from Mt. Cameroon with us.
11 June 2012
It looks like we will not leave for Ebo until tomorrow. Derrick formulated the budget for the mission and had to get it approved. Unfortunately, the funds will not be available until tomorrow. Dickson, our logistics person, arrived today from Kumba but could not start the purchasing because the funds were not available. Desire and Derrick went to Bakingili to arrange for our Mt. Cameroon team members to join the Ebo team. I have come to expect delays as part of the process. Eno came to the hotel to watch football (soccer) with me in the evening.
12 June 2012
A driver picked me up at the hotel at 0900. Dickson and Desire left for the market to do the purchasing.
A driver went to Bakingili to pick up the Mt. Cameroon contingent. Unfortunately, only two of the four people we had hoped to accompany us were available. We had to pick two inexperienced people to replace the two who were not available. By the time the shopping was finished, it was 1600. By the time the vehicles were packed it was 1700. We left Limbe and headed to Yabassi. We reached Douala at 1800. The traffic was heavy. We were in stop-and-go traffic for almost two hours. One of the vehicles had a flat in the heavy traffic which delayed us a bit.
We reached the outskirts of Douala at 2000 and stopped for dinner. We then continued for two and one-half hours to Yabassi. The road was paved for about half the trip. The dirt road for the remainder of the way was not too bad. It rained off and on most of the way. We arrived at Yabassi at 2230. I was pleasantly surprised by the hotel I stayed in. It was very nice with spacious air conditioned rooms. The hotel is owned by the cousin of Manu Dibango (note this website is in French), a famous Cameroonian jazz musician. I had a great night's sleep.
13 June 2012
I was up at 0700 and had a nice breakfast at the hotel. I met with Derrick and Desire. They will go to Yingui, Mosse and Ndodmem Nord to meet with dignitaries and hire local guides, porters and cooks. I will stay here in Yabassi with the Bakingili team. We will not be able to make it to the field today, but plan to leave early in the morning for Ndogmem Nord, where we will begin our trek. I have been bitten by midges several times and have developed significant local reactions to the bites. I put on insect repellant and a long-sleeved shirt.
One of our drivers, Jobe, toured me around Yabassi. I then went to the WWF office and met with the Cameroon Ministry of Forestry (MINFOF) divisional delegate to brief him on our plans. In the afternoon, I attended an International Environment Day presentation for the local population presented by WWF and the Ministry of the Environment. The presentation was supposed to start at 1700, but didn't start until 1900. After the presentation, we went to town for a drink. I returned to my hotel, packed and got to bed by 2130.
We will be working in a logging concession adjacent to the proposed Ebo National Park designated UFA 00004. It was logged in 2006. There are a number of primitive roads that were constructed during the logging. They are used extensively by elephants, and we will use them to navigate through the landscape. There is a lot of secondary forest growth that is preferred by elephants.
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