The dry season is slowly coming to an end, making way for the first rains of the green season. Light rains at this time bring vital liquid and allow some cool breezes to balance the level of humidity which is increasing this time of the year. Clear blue skies often carry fairly low clouds of diverse patterns. The particles of dust in the air create heart-warming colours all around as the sun rises and sets. Early flowers, fruits or seedpods, and even light branches are carried away by strong winds at this time of year.
Lango Camp, Odzala-Kokoua National Park
Lango Bai has offered a few amazing glimpses of a group of 14 lowland bongos, right from Lango Camp’s deck! These secretive forest antelope tend to be less shy of human presence than we expected, as we also had two surprising encounters while walking along Lango stream. Forest elephants have been observed from Lango deck as well during the day; as the light faded away, the full moon high in the night sky lit up the area for some beautiful, evocative night-time sightings.
The boat trips on the river have been very successful with three unique glimpses of the elusive central chimpanzee, which often come close to the river to look for fruiting trees. Several monkey sightings including a special agile mangabey viewing – special because the very agile primates were all around our boat, a troupe of at least eighty to hundred individuals all playing, screaming, and even swimming around us. Putty-nosed monkey, de Brazza’s monkey, grey-cheeked mangabey and guereza colobus have also been observed on the river.
Savannah drives along the forest edges allowed great sightings of sitatunga antelope, marsh mongoose, and spotted hyaena. We suspect that there could be a hyaena den close to Lango Camp, as we have seen four very young individuals twice on the main road that leads to camp.
Ngaga Camp, Ndzehi Concession
Overall the gorilla tracking experiences have been great this month. There are two solitary silverbacks at the moment following the two habituated groups which seems to be putting constant pressure on the gorillas, resulting in them covering more ground and sometimes even crossing streams and rivers.
On a walk from the Ndzehi old research camp we stumbled upon the silverback Neptuno who we had not met for almost four months. First we smelled the gorilla’s strong earthy smell. Then there was a rustling in the marantaceae foliage and lo and behold there was Neptuno himself – about ten metres from us! Then he sat on the ground and started nibbling on the shoots of the marantaceae. The females and the young ones suddenly appeared slowly from the thick undergrowth. What a special privilege to meet this group and have a unique sighting of them.
We have also had good sightings of Jupiter’s group, the group being often seen crossing open trails inside the marantaceae forest.
The highlight this month was a fantastic sighting of African pygmy goose. We also had great views of black bee-eater, black-bellied seed-cracker, African darter, white-crested hornbill, Hartlaub’s duck, great blue turaco, compact weaver, and an unusual white morph of the African paradise flycatcher.