Moonlight Safari

This morning I am a bit groggy as I drink my morning coffee. Last night I went out with our Smithsonian researcher, Barabara, on one of her nightly treks into the Gabonese jungle. She is studying the change in behaviour of nocturnal animals as a result of external influences (hunting, the activity in the oilfield, location etc) and almost every night for the past three months she has spent up to six hours in the bush ‘mammal spotting’.

So she, myself and her assistant went out last night and did a route near to our Southern checkpoint. We left around 8pm and got back about 1.15am. It was a great experience. Although Barbara was a bit disappointed at our sightings (sometimes they come across wild pigs, leopards and other rare creatures) I was quite happy, although I was so tired by the end of it, I could barely express any kind of emotion at all!

We saw a few little Galigos (very small animals with long tails and huge eyes that live in trees) very cute. We also saw something called a blue Leporg (I don’t think that’s the correct spelling) and when Barabara first whispered the name I thought she said ‘there’s a blue leopard’ - I was a bit apprehensive about that one! Some of the trees in the forest are so old and huge – over 10 feet wide. We also came across wild pig and elephant tracks.

It was great for a night but I definitely don’t have the patience to do that as a job. In order to be able to spot anything that might be there, you have to move really, really slowly. So for half of the night we were walking 10 paces, then looking around for about 10 seconds. It equals very slow progress, which to me, got infuriating after the first hour or so. None the less I am glad to have had the experience and I really don’t feel that bad this morning.

It was an eventful night for all. We had a truck rollover incident on the concession (although it was a Total, not a Shell contractor involved) and two people had to medivaced out at midnight last night. So everyone is a bit tired this morning and the office, I suspect, will be quite quiet!

Today marks the 14th day of not boozing and everything is going well. It is interesting the difference in tiredness from staying up late for reasons other than drinking (as I am this morning) and tiredness from boozing. I prefer the former.

The threat of a general strike seems less serious now and so I am quite optimistic that I will make it home on time next week. So down to handover notes this morning… 


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