Bad Weather, and an Empty Bai
by Mike Loomis
March 27, 2002
Wednesday, 6:45AM EST/12:45PM Cameroon
We were hit with another bad thunderstorm Tuesday afternoon, which means that the elephants were staying under the forest cover. Desiré sent a couple of men into the bai to keep an eye out for any animal activity; they waited around until it got dark at 5:30, and then came back to camp.
Our concern at this point is with the amount of human activity around the bai lately. In addition to our team, there has been the four Peace Corps volunteers I mentioned a couple of days ago. All of this activity certainly makes the elephants less likely to come out into the open. The Peace Corps folks have left, however, and Desiré feels that all of the rain we've had recently will wash away much of the human scent that's spread around the area. This should make the elephants less suspicious and more likely to come out into the bai.
We were up at 5:00AM this morning, and out to the bai by 6:00AM. It was a very strange sight. The bai is usually very busy with wildlife—a lot of birds, sitatunga, and other animals are almost always present. It was oddly quiet today, with hardly any birds or animals in sight. We're not sure why, perhaps it has something to do with all of the rain.
We stayed in the bai until 9:00AM without seeing any elephants. Two monitors stayed in the bai while the rest of us went back to camp for breakfast. We'll go back this afternoon and see if any elephants have worked their way into the open by then.
Conditions in the camp are still a bit rough. In addition to the bad weather, the insects remain really bad. About the only relief we can get is when we're inside our tents. Being that today is Wednesday, I had to remember to take my anti-malaria drug (Lariam); having a colleague in camp who is sick with the disease helped me to remember to do that.
Finally, we are also concerned that the satellite collar we're planning to use this week is not working properly. It has not been generating and sending location signals back to the United States as it should be. Technicians back at the North Carolina Zoo are working with Argos now to see what the problem might be.
About the author:
Dr. Mike Loomis is Chief Veterinarian at the North Carolina
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