March has been a rather windy month, with a plethora of tree and flower species dispersing their seeds with these winds. The gusts of wind have also caused many fruits to fall to the ground, effectively dispersing their seeds, but also feeding a variety of herbivore species which wander below the treeline to take advantage of this literal 'windfall'.
Weather and Landscape
The windy conditions also resulted in some good rainfall as Ngaga Camp received 174 mm of rain, 57 mm more than last month. The rain resulted in humid conditions that were coupled with hot daytime temperatures. The mornings and evenings were cool and comfy though.
March has proved to be a difficult month with gorilla tracking as we battled to get sightings and encounters with both the Neptuno and Jupiter Groups, both of which are receiving pressure from two new silverbacks in the area. Interestingly, one of the new males has taken up residence close to Ngaga Camp, while the other has settled further south. Neptuno was challenged on a few occasions, but has managed to fend off the intruding males for now.
Walks through the Ikessi Forest have produced some great sightings of gorilla though, as well as a couple of chimpanzee sightings. There were also fresh signs of duiker, hogs and elephant dotted through the forest. On the smaller side of the scale, we had a couple of great sightings of red-legged squirrel and either a Lady Burton’s rope squirrel or ribboned-rope squirrel in the forest (unfortunately we were not able to positively identify this squirrel as it was in thick brush).
At Lango, the highlight was definitely the giant forest hogs that took a liking to the area. Red-river hogs were also seen just east of the camp viewing deck. The bounty of fruit is clearly benefiting these two species as they both look very healthy and in good condition.
Forest elephant were also prolific, and we were amazed by the numbers that would visit Lango Bai daily to dig for minerals in the clay. Blue duiker were seen daily around camp, and I believe I had a brief sighting of a yellow-backed duiker close to camp too, but again it was a fleeting view.
Western Guereza colobus, grey-cheeked mangabey and putty-nosed monkey were seen regularly around camp, and were seen in the trees next to the camp walkways from time to time. African giant squirrels were also seen in the trees surrounding camp.
Birds and Birding
Birding was great this month and we saw some pretty special and unique species, namely black-collared lovebirds at Ngaga Camp and vermiculated fishing-owl at Lango Camp. We also had a fantastic sighting of black coucal at Lango Camp.
As the weather conditions are still warm, we had a number of good snake sightings. A big highlight for us was the sighting of a Jameson's mamba. Etienne and I walked right past one of these snakes in the forest and only saw it when it slithered off through the ground cover!