Line 4 – Day 11

Posted on March 18, 2012

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Today we finished off-line 3 and I was delighted to see a number of primates on the way to plot 10. There were black and white colobus monkeys as well as red-tailed monkeys, which were busy feeding high in the treetops, not far from our path. I also saw for the first time, two blue diukers (a type of antelope, that looks more like a cross between a large hare and an over grown guinea pig from what I witnessed, as it belted past us).

 A Black and White Colobus monkey

A Black and White Colobus monkey

Line 4 had no signs of primates today. But we did see a lot more existing Cordia directly on the path and also came across two illegal pit-saws around 30m from the transect line. Moses told me that the men who come in to steal Cordia do this at night. The logs are rolled up onto a platform and then cut into slabs measuring 14-feet in length, 1 foot across and 1 inch deep. I thought they put these onto trucks to transport them out; but they don’t, they carry it out on foot! One man will carry at least 5 planks on top of his head bound together with jungle vines. This is the strongest natural wire you can find. No wonder Tarzan could swing from it. We saw the remnants of a couple of planks, I tried to lift one and it was quite heavy and very cumbersome to carry. I have no idea how they do this at night. I can barely walk without falling over in the middle of day let along when there’s no light. I’m wondering how long it will be before we actually stumble across some pit-sawyers during the day. I’m not afraid, but I have been told to keep schtum. Difficult I know for a gobshite like me. They’re likely to view me suspiciously, not knowing whether I am from a law enforcement agency. Thankfully Moses speaks Swahili and I know I’m in safe hands. Although it would be fantastic to get an interview giving their perspective for the thesis…..that’s the journalist in me, sorry!!

Today I must have tripped at least six times as my feet became ensnared in various vines. I also keep catching my feet around the small stumps of saplings as they start to sprout. They’re well camouflaged under the carpet of decaying leaves. I’m not usually this clumsy. I can negotiate London’s worst pavements wearing three-inch heels without breaking my neck. But here, in flats, tackling an assault course, I’m hopeless. I have a nasty gash on my left knee where I almost impaled my shin on a piece of wood freshly cut with a machete. The graze is not too deep but it’s long and my knee is turning a delightful blue/purple colour. I also nearly took my right eye out with a thorny branch, but managed to swerve and jabbed myself in the neck instead. I’m going to look like a walking domestic by the time I get home.

We ran out of masking tape yesterday. I wish I had brought more with me. I didn’t intend to lay so many plots, but when you get out into the field, your methods can and do change according to what’s feasible. So instead we’re using heavy-duty Elastoplasts to mark my plots. Gotta be innovative remember, This Is Africa (T.I.A). I think I may have to rip up a bright coloured t-shirt tomorrow and cut it into strips as I don’t think the plaster will last another ten plots. Plus it’s not the most obvious colour to spot against the autumnal coloured leaves.

I’m absolutely shattered today. Early bed, tomorrow we tackle the furthest distance – line 5.

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