Steve and Chris (the Boyes brothers finally together) led half of our team to camp out at the Quembo River and visit villages along the way. Our village interviews always yield fascinating information. We feel very privileged to glance into the lives of these very trusting people.
We have recently heard rumors of elephants still tracking through these Angolan highlands, which had led the team in that direction. Angola has lost some 150,000 plus so these stories filled us with hope. It was a admirable effort by Chris to even narrow the search down to one village where he was able to purchase a ride on the back of a motorcycle. After a 2 hour ride he found evidence in form of dung and tracks of a small breeding herd traveling through the valley. We never thought we would be finding proof of elephants living in the upper catchment of the Okavango river basin.
"This photo might seem like some mushrooms growing out of decomposing grass, but OH it means so much more! What we are…www.instagram.com
In a country that lost 150,000 plus elephants during war time, we had thought there was very little chance they still lived here. In talking with Steve I understood for the first time the responsibility that comes with such a discovery. As we let others know that these noble survivors still have a home here, we have to work that much harder to protect them.
Yesterday renowned mammalogist Peter Taylor arrived via helicopter to assist in analyzing our rodent specimens and to study the bat populations. Today was a busy day setting up the complicated traps for the bats.
Tomorrow is the river. We will split for the remainder of the expedition. Twelve of us will continue down the Cuanavale in six mekoro for the next five weeks while the others will take their time researching over the 4 days as they drive out. They will also be collecting our 30 camera traps in hopes of some solid photos. The campfire is surrounded with anticipation and excitement. Tomorrow. The river.