Three days ago we left Mondika. It wasn’t easy. The day before that, Julia and I went to see Kingo and family for the last time (in 2010- I like to say). We spent the afternoon following Kingo, then around 15:30 I started with Mbolo to go seeing all members, one after the other. First we saw Emilie, then we encountered Mama, who was difficult to find for the last days of work, and then we went to Ugly. She looked at us, and then continued to feed, with Kenga climbing up and down her. She was nice, no aggressive vocs, just looking at me. When I walked away, a mixture of feelings invaded me, among all sadness of not seeing her anymore and happyness to see her so much calm and not fearful anymore.
After that we heard a strange noise as a rhythmic tam tam. Knowing it was Kusu, but very curious to see how he was doing that noise we approached him. He was playing alone with a big Marantacee leave, putting it between his clapping hands. It used three different leaves, and then used the same leaves to make his napping nest. It was hilarious and put us again in a good mode. Coming back we went to see Mekome and Ekendi , who were sleeping close where Kingo was too. Then was Julia turn to see females and infants. When was the time to go back to camp, we both had the chance to see all members.
We then, went to Bayanga for the last time to see all tracker families. We slept at the Shanga Lodge a fantastic place on the river, quite and still “in the forest”. We visited BaiHokou where we met another gorilla group, Makumba. The visit was great, the gorilla group is extremely well habituated, and trackers and assistants well prepared. The forest is much more open than that at Mondika, and hillier I would say, it was extremely interesting to see how different can be the forest. We have been told that in the area there are also much more elephants.
After the morning at BAiHokou we went to say good bye to Andrea at the Dzanga Bai. There were many elephants, sitatunga and finally for Julia also same bongos. The same night a forest spirit was dancing in Moussapola and we went there to spend some time with our trackers, the dancing was amazing. The day after I bought some food and palm wine and we ate all together listening to music.
We are now starting the traveling back to Brazzaville to take our international flights. I want to thank all the people and organizations that made the collection data for this project possible. First of all, Diane Doran-Sheehy, my advisor, Richard Leakey, Leakey Foundation, Primate Action Fund, Wildlife Direct and Wildlife Conservation Society, especially Patrice Mongo, Mondika Director.
A special thanks goes to all our readers and donors of Gorilla Sound blog, who helped to increase the monthly salary of our trackers. As you know their work is essential in Mondika. They took great care of Julia and me in the forest, protecting us from any potential danger. They learn to use microphone, cameras and camcorders. They understood the importance of some specific data for me and they were always telling me if something interesting happened and we were not there. They shared their impressions on gorilla behaviors as well as their knowledge of the forest with us. I would like to name them all: Mangombe, Mamandele, Mongambe, Kete Mokonjo, Dona, Zomela, Mkpeta, Mbolo, Samedi, Bakombo, Zalague, Mopeto, Mapoko, Nye Buka, Kamo, Fini Samedi, Moyekele, Makiso, Mangua, Goli, Mbeko, Kenga, Bakanga.