Line 2 – Day 13

Posted on March 18, 2012


Before I left London, my supervisor said to me don’t be surprised if you don’t see any chimps while walking up and down your lines. Look out for signs such as nests or faeces. Well today I had the good fortune of not just spotting two chimps in the area where I was working; but actually travelling parallel to my transect, so I can include them in my data – hurrah! This was a very good sign indeed. The Waibira chimps are not habituated and are more wary of humans than the Sonso group, they quickly darted into the bushes and scaled a tree pronto. In the blink of an eye they’d vanished.

Line 2 is a vineyard – not the type that produces exquisite wine, no…….we are talking about an area that has more vines on the forest floor than anywhere else (terrible pun, but you get my gist). It’s like the wildlife has booby-trapped the place to keep the people out. I was constantly having to lift my legs higher and untangling my feet and retrace my steps to be able to free my waist from the rope sneakily entwined around me. Maybe I need to look more carefully where I am stepping, but it’s an art form that takes years and I literally only have weeks.

On our way back to camp, Moses stopped to down some water (Maaj). Warm boiled water just never seems to quench your thirst. I was leading the way back and I had just ducked under a large branch hanging across the path which had a hollow on the other side of it. I stopped and turned around to look for Moses and directly in front of me, inside the hollow, curled up like a tight coil was a black snake. I caught a shiny eye watching me intensely. I jumped backwards blurting out several expletives.  And then almost immediately Moses was flapping his arms motioning me to move even further back. As I looked up another black snake was gracefully wriggling across the tops of the trees three-foot above my head. It moved with such speed across the smallest of branches that were barely touching each other, it was incredible. I’ve never seen a snake move like that, I was fascinated! When I consulted Tom, one of the students studying reptiles and amphibians, he told me it was most likely to have been a type of Cobra. Either your bog-standard Cobra, which sports goldy patterns on the side of its face or if it’s solid black then it’s a spitting Cobra. I’m glad to say I didn’t get close enough to spot the difference but I did feel rather pleased with myself that I’d had a brief encounter.