Finally at our last campsite! It is funny; we are at a spring, the only water for miles around. Everyone is bathing from a pot of water, including Scooby and Sadie! Scooby is on bed rest for the next few days until his muscles get better. Looks like Sadie is on her own for a little while. Sadie is doing fantastic! She is working with Vong and Oudom and is covering lots of ground. Not too many scats, but definitely some wildlife, as always. The crew has seen cobras, muntjacs, wild pigs, monkeys, hornbills and scorpions. It has been an adventure here in Phnom Prick.
Finished surveys for our cell! Scooby and Sadie have done excellent work. We worked alternate days giving each dog time to train on tiger scat. The dogs worked a blind trail problem with Vong and Oudom as their handlers while Jen and Liz took some training videos to show future handlers. Everyone did great and it was a refresher for the dogs. Go figure after training, Scooby was resting in his hammock and flipped! Usually a normal occurrence but this time he landed odd and strained a leg muscle. Guess he is out of business for awhile.
Wow! We are heading on our last camping trip for the study. It’s incredible to believe that we are finally on the last few cells. We set-up camp and are settled in, these back roads are definitely hard to drive. We are at the only waterhole around; the dry season is taking its toll on our water resources. Unfortunately, just around the corner of the river was an illegal camp that had set a civet trap. Thanks to WWF rangers, the trap was safely disarmed. After we all settled down for the night, a wild elephant trumpeted his disappointment we were camping at his waterhole. Yikes! At least he didn’t want to say hello too.
Change of plan. (Again.) We decided to make our 3 day camping trip a 6 day trek! We headed out to Bramath on the O’Pley river, hoping to complete 7 transects by the time we make it back to Chhouk. Jen, Liz, Sadie and Max headed out with the elephant while Vong, Heath, Oudom and Scooby set out on their own. Of course, Liz and Jen lost the elephant halfway through the hike but did run into 3 men (resin collectors). After a brief exchange of words (with the little Khmer Liz speaks) we got out of there with only a few nerves rattled. The boys made it to camp long before the ladies and had camp already set-up, including boiled water for some instant coffee and milo! The crew even managed to call Tom (WWF) via a Vietnamese SIM card. This is becoming quite an adventure.
The teams set-out again for Chhouk, this time going 3 different directions after a day of rest. (Our elephant and mahout had to go all the way back to Chhouk to get more food and then come back to O’Pley – they definitely must think we are crazy Americans!) Jen, Vong and Max took the road to better get Max on the wild scent. Heath, Oudom, a ranger and Scooby headed out into the woods and Liz, a ranger and Sadie hiked a riverbed. Leave it to Sadie May to find a boa! At least this time it was only part of a dead one, she definitely makes life interesting. All 3 teams met-up on the road and took an afternoon snooze while we waited for the truck. Definitely a successful and fun trek.
Heath arrived with Max, our back-up dog, a couple days ago! We headed out into Mondulkiri for some intense dog and handler training, and to find more tiger scat. After a full few days of training, we changed our plans and all headed out on a hike north of Trapeang Chhouk. While we all knew it was going to be a long day, we had NO idea what we were getting into. Lets just say, 15 kilometers, 38 degrees Celsius, walking through a burned area (no shade), ran out of water, AND lost our elephant (with our supplies and a couple of rangers!). Whoa, right?! Luckily, just before sunset, the elephant and rangers arrived at the waterhole Heath and Oudom had found and we all ate a very late dinner in the dark. The next day was spent sleeping in and taking a much needed rest for the dogs.
Whoa! Check out the size of that scat that Sadie found! Liz wears a woman’s size US 9.5 boot. That is definitely a large scat! It had a great diameter…could be another possible tiger sample! Look how proud and happy Sadie looks!! She is loving working again. We are still taking it really slow and steady. We want her to recover completely before working too hard…of course, Sadie always has other ideas.
Finally heading back to town, where we will met up with Heath and Max, another of our Conservation Canines. After two weeks off sleeping in hammocks, the team can not wait to sleep in a bed!
Sadie is back to work! It’s her first day since getting Tick Fever in the middle of January. She has a slow, steady and short day but does great! Scooby is raring to go and struts his stuff with a smile for Jen and Vong.
We had a surprise visit in the afternoon. While sitting in camp, reading, trying to ignore how hot we are, we hear huge crashing noises coming through the bamboo heading straight for our river! Lo and behold, a herd of wild elephants came through the trees. 12 in total!! With 2 babies!!! It was incredible! Of course, Sadie May has to bark, scaring away the whole herd. I kid you not. Luckily we had a ranger who was quick as a muntjac and headed off after them for a couple of photos. Amazing!