|Angolan black and white colobus|
My first week of Forest Training and Volunteering has been completely amazing. The amount of animals that we have seen is much more than I had anticipated, I still cannot get over how beautiful the creatures of Shimoni Forest are, especially the Angolan Black and White Colobus. They are as fascinated by us as we are of them, and I could watch their behavior all day. We wake up every morning at around 6:15 to make sure that we are dressed, fed and our packs are ready by 7:00. This is to ensure that we are leaving early enough to miss the hottest part of the day, as the birds and monkeys don’t like to have much activity during the height of the sun and the humidity, much the same as humans.
On my third day of Forest Research, myself and a small group of 4 traveled 2 hours by foot down the main road towards Shimoni West, where we were to continue work blazing the new trail, Transect 4. Transect 4 was another hour from the main road into the forest. The walk along the spine was shady and cool and flat for the most part, however, when we got to the transect the canopy coverage was much less. We quickly became very hot and sweaty as we made our way along. We trekked across the uneven and hot trail, over felled trees, under large vines, and constantly keeping an eye out for Kite Spiders, hairy caterpillars, and holes in the coral rag. Oh, and at the same time making sure we checked for casual observations of the Black and White Colobus.
We get to the end of the trail and we have our lunch of egg and mayonnaise sandwiches. Afterwards, two of us take up pangas (machetes) and check our compasses to make sure the new part of the trail continues to head due East. We look in front of us and see only a tangled mess of thick vines, dead wood, high coral and many other obstacles. Through the density there is no discernable clear path, only the one that we have to make continuing dead East. We panga-ed for almost 2 and ½ hours, switching off as we got tired or dehydrated. We then measured our distance, a very impressive 50M of trail had been made! For all of our sweat and work, we felt high energized once we found out what a heady dent we had made. We head back to the GVI house and arrive at around 4:00, a good 9 hour round trip. We take cold showers and relax, we all feel like we had a very hard but rewarding day of work. We even saw about a dozen Colobus and even a Zanj elephant shrew, a good day all on its own!
Kate Barry- Community Intern