Panic Over – Day 27

Posted on April 1, 2012


“In the areas you’re working, there is only millenii,” said Dr Fred Babweterra filling the kettle.

It was music to my ears and the elation and relief swept across my face leaving me beaming at Dr Fred.

Africana is much smaller, it doesn’t grow more than 5m high and the trunk is not as thick. It’s found on the outskirts of forest areas. I’ve done a lot of work in Budongo and I have not come across this species. The Cordia you have identified is millenii,” he added.

“What about the fruit Isaac showed me, it’s much smaller than what I’ve read about.”

“It’s possible some trees elsewhere may have started to fruit, but it’s not africana,” he said reassuringly.

Dr Fred (as he is affectionately called here) is a remarkable forester and lecturer at Makerere University in Kampala. I first met him in 2010 when I made a film about his goat scheme for neighbouring villages here in order to reduce the amount of snare hunting in the forest. It was the reason I first came to Budongo.

He is a very warm and generous man and a great after dinner story-teller. He comes to camp twice a month to stay for a few days and never turns up empty-handed. He’ll bring food treats like avocados; sweet pineapples; tomatoes; rice; flour; green bananas (matoke) and cassava and whatever else is available. It’s like Christmas! All the students love him.

When Moses arrived at camp this morning I asked him, “Do you know the difference between Cordia millenii and africana?”

“Yes, you can tell in the leaves. One is more rounded and the other is broader. Why?”

“Don’t worry about it,” I said smiling to myself and putting on my rucksack. “Panic over, twende! (let’s go).”