Today, I spent the first part of the day working on making more squeeze boards for the mongoose traps. They are for when a mongoose gets trapped, we are able to confine the mongoose into a much smaller space. This way we can sedate the mongoose without them thrashing around in the trap and harming themselves. After that I had some time to read up on all the native reptiles. The office has a few good field guides on reptiles of Southern Africa. I am feeling a lot more confident with all the snakes around here. Still hope to never come across any in the bush or anywhere else. Actually yesterday, I did come across my first snake. It was on the property where our office is, also, this is the plot of land where, Dr. Alexander and her husband live. At the front of the property is the snake park. I guess early in the morning or the night before, all three of the Angolan Green Tree Snakes escaped their cage, according to Kennedy, the snake park manager. The nonvenomous snakes enclosures aren’t as locked down as the venomous ones. I was wandering around the property and came across a snake. I do admit my heart skipped a beat. There are a few “green” snakes. The green mamba and boomslang happen to be two of them. I was able to recognize it to not be a boomslang, but wasn’t gunna take my chances… I thought it was a Angolan Green Snake, still not gunna go mess with it or pick it up. I told Mishell, then wanted to go tell Kennedy. When I mentioned it to Kennedy, is when I found out about the escapees. We were able to go to where saw the snake and he was able to identify it as one of the park’s snakes. We grabbed it and was able to return it back to it’s enclosure.
Later today, Pete took us out on another field observation of the four town mongoose troops. Using the radio tracking gear, we were able to visibly find all the troops and document the necessary observations. We are going to start doing our own observations next to Pete on future field trips. This way we can compare our documentation to his, so we can get the hang of all this. What still trips me out is stomping through the bush. Walking over dead dry tall grass, elephant rutts, and all kinds of other terrain the snakes can be. I realize by now, most of them scurry away, way before we would even see them, but it is still in my head what is around. I am mostly concerned over the Puff Adder. They don’t crawl away to hide. They just stay right where they are at. They are excellent at camouflaging into their environment. Most people get bit cause them step on them. Here Pete is walking very quickly, cause he has mongoose on his mind and is so used to trekking through the bush. I am like….. Ummmm Holy Shit!!! Most areas where we are at are fine, fire roads, well traveled paths, and open terrain. It is just some of the areas, I cannot help to be on ultra-mega-super high alert. I am gunna be so jaded once I get back to the states… Nothing will scare me. Oh yeah, a few of the troops we still need to be on high alert, cause we are so close to the river, only a few yards away. So elephant, hippo, crocodiles, and rouge buffalo can be anywhere. How exciting… huh!!!
All of this is definitely teaching me about using GPS, radio tracking, compass reading and all kinds of useful and handy stuff to know. Some of it I learned in boy scouts, but that was like more than 25 years ago.
I wish so many of you could witness all of this. Seeing the wildlife everywhere is simply incredible. I saw a beautiful hornbill, slender mongoose, warthog, and a bush buck, just on the way to one of the troops. It is like that everyday and everywhere you go. It is sad that to locals, the native people don’t see the wildlife that way. They see it as a nuisance and simply in the way of their necessary lifestyle. Whether it be for farming or raising cattle or goats. This is one of CARACALS main missions. To educate the public of what is needed to maintain a sustainable environment for people and the wildlife.
Off to the shower.. Oh boy