elegy for a leopard

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The details surrounding the death of this leopard are unfortunate. According to Elie Tobi, scientist and curator for the Gabon Biodiversity Center in Gamba, the body of this leopard was recovered in November of 2009.

“A leopard was caught by an illegal bushmeat snare set between Hippo Lake and Sette Cama, in the Gamba area of Gabon. The animal struggled fiercely, finally managing to break the spring-pole stick holding him prisoner of the mechanism. Unfortunately, his struggle for freedom became corrupted by a wound to his right front leg. This leopard, now injured, drew behind him a cable attached to the broken piece of wood. Under these conditions, it became impossible to hunt. Weakened by hunger, the animal left the cover of forest, dying, likely of starvation, on Sette Cama Road.

In light of his dire circumstance, it is possible the leopard presented himself along the roadway to escape from other dangers in the forest. Or, it is possible he offered himself to science, to create a lesson in conservation.”

Wire snares are illegal in Gabon. Snares do not discriminate between protected and unprotected species. Like this leopard, large and powerful animals can tear a snare free of its anchor, dragging the broken cable through the forest while still constricted on a limb that will likely become infected and cause crippling injury or death.

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Monrovia view from the Ducor Hotel

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Senegal parrot

Not sure of the tree species flowering in the back garden but this morning it was busy with Senegal parrots. They seem to relish the flower spikes.

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Saturday morning with the Plantain-eaters

Perching on a wire above the street, a lone Plantain-eater, preening feathers along her back, stopped to assess any potential threat as I approached on my walk with Elle. Apparently neither of us posed sufficient danger, and she resumed her morning ritual, the ruffling and smoothing, straightening wing primaries and sorting tail feathers, occasionally returning my attention with a look resembling curiosity.

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Not long after, another bird arrived and appeared to engage in a display of communication by body language, tipping on the wire, fanning his tail, eventually moving closer to deliver a peck with that sturdy yellow beak. Soon the first bird began to show some annoyance, crouched low to the wire and launched herself airborne to disappear over the neighboring rooftop.

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foggy morning on Vera Plaines, Gabon

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tropical colors, Mouila, Gabon

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Village elder, Doussala, Gabon

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Village elder and Bwiti Priest in Doussala, Gabon. Some subjects seem to have more emotional depth in black and white. The transition from film and darkroom has not been easy, but with the availability of iphones as tools to complement photoshop, it might be possible to re-discover the magic of the darkroom, though I continue to miss the tang of stop-bath and fixer.

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rain squall

An isolated storm at sea, some 25 miles off the coast of Monrovia pounds the Atlantic Ocean in an astounding show of natural force.

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And beyond that, due west by approximately 2,975 miles, the port city of Paramaribo, Suriname, lies on another continent, by latitude directly across the Atlantic. Other than being too far away to see, Paramaribo has nothing to do with this picture.

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Western plantain-eater

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A Western, or Grey plantain-eater cruises above the tree-tops over Old U.S. Embassy Compound in Monrovia. They are of the Turaco family, half a meter in length, head to tail. Like the turacos, they have a loud, crowing call.

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starling

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Starling on a wire.

Iridescent blue and green,

golden eye watching.

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