snare

June 28 Thursday      My stealth camera is ready for another round of surveillance.  I recall a well-defined game trail adjacent to the road to Point Dick, so I am off to place the camera.  I am also becoming familiar with my new digital SLR that I have acquired, so I have packed this along.  I pedal down the road, then a few hundred metres of trail, greeted by a few mangebeys sprinting across the road in a hasty retreat, and  arrive where a forest pinches between the savanna and marsh.  Several animal trails merge here, so I step quietly into the forest along the converging trails to find a suitable location.  Clearing a few downed branches from the trail, I suddenly feel something agitate under my foot. The leaves and twigs twist round and I fear I have stepped on something living. Impulse sends me flying into the air in an effort to avoid a defensive behavior should this possibly be a snake.  But no, now I hear a metallic scrape as the coil of a snare snaps round to attempt to catch my foot. As I spring clear, the whole apparatus flies off to the side of the trail, attached to a sapling that has been pegged to the ground with a tripwire.  Regaining my balance, I breathe a sigh of relief, both for not having stepped on a snake, and for not becoming entwined in the snare bouncing at chest level alongside the trail.  Examining the wire and sapling, the 3mm doubled and twisted cable is very flexible yet strong, and the sapling, 8 to 10 centimetres thick at the base, would have held any antelope, and perhaps even a juvenile buffalo, until its eventual death.  I dismantle the trap, as traps like this are illegal throughout Gabon.  Finishing my camera set, with concern that I may photograph a puzzled poacher, I exit the forest and follow forest edge to a raised savanna, sitting behind a thick bush to listen to the sounds of the forest, hoping to observe something feed into the savanna in the passing late afternoon.  A few monkeys call and chirp from the distance, the usual pairs and small flocks of gray parrots pass overhead, palm-nut vultures labor on heavy wings out to the surf scrub, and as the sun is swallowed by a clouded horizon, I pedal back through the forests and savannas in the cool evening air.

 

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