We set off for the savannah, a long but leisurely walk of nearly five hours: stopping to examine fruiting trees; a new species of coffee now being described by the Kew Botanical Gardens; the ever-present driver ants and tiny frogs.
Our final approach to the savannah was stopped short by the discovery of fresh elephant feces. It was a discovery of mixed feelings…three elephants had just been poached. Not knowing how many elephants are in the forest, fresh feces at least indicate they have not been exterminated. On the other hand — I know from experience — you can be standing right next to an African elephant on nearly open savannah and not know it is there. Here in the deep forest we fear we will bump into one before we know it is there, and you don’t ever want to startle a 12,000lb animal. Also, in light of recent poaching, it could be a poor time for an intimate encounter.
Bethan knows elephants well and after a few moments determined that the feces were at least one or two days old. While elephants were clearly in the area, there was a good chance we were not right on top of them. We were probably within about one-hundred yards of the savannah at this point, so we continued to the end of our planned journey. The “savannah” turned out to be more of a steep rocky knoll, but it was open and high, giving us a spectacular view of unbroken forest and mountains as far as we could see. An eagle soared overhead and somewhere far away we heard the brief chatter of primates Bethan identified as chimpanzee. Other than that, the forest sounds were again dominated by cicadas.
Highlight on the return treck to camp was discovery of the hospital bell left behind by German colonists one hundred years ago. [Sunni Black]
PHOTOS: Hospital Bell, Date on Bell, Bowl
PHOTOGRAPHER: Sunni Black