Wednesday, February 13, 2008

And now from Queen Elizabeth National Park

So, We finally got back to a spot where Internet access is available. Four nights in the amazing Kibale National Park in Western Uganda gave us sme relief from having to check in on a daily basis, and we had a wonderfultime there.

Our trip out of Kampala was much as expected. The traffic gets worse each year,and the slower it moves, the more pollution there is. I suppose it is just like many developing countires. More folks want a slice of the good life pie, more battered old Toyota mini-vans end up in the city-as-dead-end, and more and more fumes get into the air. The first 30 km took about 2 hours, and for another 30 km or so we struggled with potholes and slow traffic. Then the road opened up and we sailed along.

Eventually we reached Fort POrtal, but not before driving past mile after mile of slash-and-burn agricultural plots where people have tried to carve out a spot to plant some crops, mainly maize or cassava. Where we used to see black-and-white colobus monkeys in the small patches of remnant forest, we saw none.

Thence to Kanyawara, the Makerere University Biological Field Station that is
set in a beautiful grove of trees in its own special corner of the National Park. In Kibale there are 13 species of primate, the best known of all of course being the chimpanzees, of whichh there are several habituated groups.

Our working days consisted of early morning walks along well-established research trails to either examine trapped rodents, or help in the long-term survey of small birds that are caught in the mist nets that we use. We examine both tyes of animals for external parasites such as fleas and lice and collect a minute bloood samle to check for blood-borne diseases such as sleeping sickness or avain malaria. The rest of the days we engage in a series of seminars and worskhops, discussing a wide range of topics that include the ever-increasing elephant population and the incursion into the forest by poachers.

Out of time on this machine, so maybe more tomorrow.

Keep fit and I hope it is not too cold where you are reading this.


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