Well, it looks like today I am off to Mayumba at long last. Thankfully, a bush taxi through the entire country won't be necessary, but it will still be a long trip.
Rich Parnell, who coordinates the WCS Mayumba National Park project, and I will fly from Libreville to a town called Tchibanga. From Tchibanga, we will take a 4 hour bush taxi ride to the town of Mayumba (below is a picture I took from inside the bush taxi when I took this trip last year). It will be a long day of travel for certain. Monday evening I will stay in Mayumba with Rich and, if all goes well, we will head to the field camp the next morning.
Mayumba National Park lies at the base of a peninsula, and Nyafessa - the field camp that I will be working at - is at the base of the peninsula, about 10 miles from the Republic of Congo border, and about 50 miles from the town of Mayumba. As a result, the trip to the field camp will also be an adventure. Because the park's ATV is currently not functioning, we will take a three hour boat ride down the Banio Lagoon (see picture of the lagoon below) from the town of Mayumba to Kalamabote, a small village near the base of the lagoon (near the town of Ndindi on the map). From there we will wait for the oil company that works in the area to give us a ride across the peninsula (some 15 miles) to the field camp. All of this may take up to a day and a half! I have no doubt, though, that it will be worth all of the work and effort once we see that first turtle nesting!
This year, I will be at the camp with two of Mayumba National Park's Ecoguards who serve as 'park rangers' and are trained to monitor turtles, the waters of the park for illegal fishing, and the land-based portion of the park for poachers hunting for animals such as elephants and gorillas that occur here. I will be stationed at Nyafessa until approximately October 14 when I will meet up with Angela Formia to head to Conkouati National Park in Congo.
That's it for today. I'll be offline after today for a few weeks with only a satellite phone for emergencies, but the folks at TOPP will continue to post blogs for me over the coming weeks, so keep checking back. Also, in the coming days, we should be putting satellite tags out on our first turtles, so be sure to check the project page below!
I would like to say a special thank you to my collaborators, family and friends who have been so supportive of this project and me over the last few weeks - I look forward to hearing from you all soon!
To follow the turtles online, go to The Gabon Turtle Project Page on seaturtle.org
Click here to learn more about Mayumba National Park and donate to the park
This work is generously supported by:
National Science Foundation
Myers Oceanographic Trust
Friends of Long Marine Lab
Project Collaborators and Partners:
Parcs National Gabon
Partenariat Tortues Marines Gabon