a tree falls

Tuesday, Jan. 25

Today I biked past the airport down the road in the direction of Mayanomi. I was looking for a forest road that connects to Mosso-Mala. I have heard it has been closed to vehicles for sometime now because of a fallen tree across the road. Not only that, but when I find this forest road, I am soon forced to detour around washouts that further prevent four-wheel traffic. There is elephant sign on this road, which is surprising because of its proximity to Vera Plaine. A couple kilometers in and I arrive at the treefall, deep in a low patch of forest prone to flooding. The road appears to have been scrubbed during the forest rain I experienced last week, and pools have softened the road surface. I find imprints of elephant tracks, and as I walk to the treefall, to my surprise, I discover a set of gorilla knuckle-prints framed by footprints where a gorilla apparently sat alongside a pool on the road, perhaps for a drink of water. I am in awe, and suddenly the forest takes on a new perspective. Another tree falls nearby, first a gradual snapping, then the rush of crashing limbs to a muffled thud, and I jump, not knowing what may have triggered the downfall. I look around and listen, this lowland stretch of forest seems ideal for a gorilla, with tall gingembre plants providing food and cover, isolated from vehicles by the washouts and treefall. I detour my bicycle through the forest before resuming my travels along the forest trail.

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