There are no secrets in the forest.

Kingo has been using the far extreme of his home range recently. He doesn’t often go up so far. The paths are all overgrown with no marker ribbons and sometimes the trackers who have been here for 8 years even have trouble remembering which path is which and where it goes. We spent one afternoon when we were coming back switching between two paths as the trackers were discussing which one was the one that went back to camp. One day I was working with three trackers, two were going to stay and do all day and I was going to come back with one around 11.30. I was coming back with the newest tracker (who had just started working here a month ago). One of the other trackers took us to the start of a path and said ok go down Celio until it gets to old camp and then you go down old camp until you get to the camp site. So we go down this path and its quite overgrown and then there are some other paths crossing it and somehow we get off the path we were on and onto another and then we come across this marker ribbon that says Ndoki. Hmmmm. So we look at each other and Makesso says ‘Ok lets keep going this way and see if it crosses another path. So we keep going down the path but it doesn’t cross any other so we go back to the marker ribbon and try another direction and this ends at a swamp. So we go back to the marker ribbon again and try the other direction and get on a path and start walking. So we were temporarily misplaced. Not lost because the trackers will always be able to get you back to camp, we just didn’t really know where we were in relation to where we were supposed to be. But by this time we are walking parallel to the Mondika river so we are heading back to camp. We walk and walk and then suddenly Makesso sees a branch lying across the path blocking the intersection with another path. And he says “Oh I know where we are now, I put this branch here weeks ago when we were working with Kingo that path going off there is Banga this was the day when . . .” so we were on Old Camp and still ages from the campsite but exactly where we wanted to be. So we got back to camp and I didn’t say anything about us getting ‘temporarily misplaced’ because I was never worried about us actually being lost and it wasn’t his fault because he hasn’t been here long enough to know all the paths.

Anyway at about 5.30pm the other two trackers come back. As usual I asked them how the rest of the day went. One of them says ‘Kingo crossed Ndoki path today’ Uh-oh I think. ‘Yeah’ says the other. ‘And we saw Julia’s bootprints. What the heck were you guys doing on Ndoki?’ Busted!!!

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