In Search of Bongo
by Mike Loomis
April 1, 2002
6:45AM EST/12:45PM Cameroon
After completing our collaring work with Robinson, it was time for us to leave the bai. We hiked out to the trailhead and waited for a transportation team to pick us up. No one arrived, though, so we ended up camping at the trailhead. It's not a very good place to camp; there are a lot of bugs, and the only available water is about half a kilometer away.
Elvis and Andre, two of our porters, volunteered to hike the 16 kilometers back to the road and hitch a ride into Mbale to arrange for transportation. They spent the night there, and came back with transportation at about 12:30 Sunday afternoon.
We drove to Kombo Camp, cleaned up our equipment, and also picked up some equipment we'll need for collaring bongos. From Kombo, we went on to the Faro West Safari Camp, and arrived there at 7:30PM. We met the proprietor, who gave us permission to pitch our tents at the camp.
We got up early this morning, ate a quick breakfast, and got the team together. We were joined by five bongo trackers and their tracking dogs. (The dogs aren't tracking dogs in the strictest sense. Actually, their job is to distract the bongo while I get set up to fire a dart at the animal.) We started out and immediately came across a set of bongo tracks. We followed them for 90 minutes, and came up on a bongo. The dogs went to work, but I couldn't get into good position for a shot; once again, heavy vegetation was a problem. Finally, the bongo saw me and took off into the forest. We'll try again Tuesday, I don't think it will be too hard to get a bongo collared.
Right now we're in the village of Libongo, which is right on the Senga River across from the Central African Republic and just north of Lobeke National Park. Libongo is like a frontier town, very remote and cutoff from the rest of the world. Much of the area's economy is based on the timber industry, and there's a large sawmill here. The law requires that 70% of the timber removed from Cameroon's forests be milled in Cameroon, so there are timber towns like this all over this region.
We're heading back to Faro West Camp soon, and we'll be back after bongo tomorrow.
About the author:
Dr. Mike Loomis is Chief Veterinarian at the North Carolina
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