by Christy Ihlo -- June 12th, 2012
Primates have always been my favorite group of animals. Once upon a time, I thought my career would be devoted to primate behavior and conservation. So, as soon as Laly mentioned that there are some bushbabies that hang out near the dorm I am staying in, it became my mission to see one. And once I saw one, it became my mission to photograph one. I realized over the last couple of days that one of them has a little routine, appearing at around the same time. So tonight, I staged a stakeout.
I arrived early. It was very cloudy today and I thought maybe they would appear a bit earlier given the reduced light. I wanted to read for a bit before dinner anyway, so I decided just to read outside the dorm and keep watch. I read for quite a while and then it occurred to me just how incredibly quiet it is here. No talking, no music, no familiar humming of appliances or distant drone of cars on a highway. Just the gentle rustle of the leaves and the calls of the birds as they settle in for the night. It was growing darker so I pulled my camera out and chose the right settings for the dusk photoshoot. I waited a bit longer and thought perhaps I scared it away. Perhaps it saw me waiting and decided not to venture down that path tonight.
Just as I was about to give up, I heard the familiar “swoosh” behind me. Ah ha! Sure enough, it had just arrived – but tonight, not one, but two bushbabies! I snuck in for a closer look in the fading light and started snapping away. I worried that perhaps the flash might prove to be a little much for them as their eyes are huge, but the contrary seemed to be true. The more pictures I took, the more they looked at me. I ended up sitting on the ground under the tree and they got curious enough to come down the trunk. One actually jumped down on the ground a few feet behind me and jumped onto the posts supporting the dorm porch! You can see the results of my efforts here – nothing spectacular but a good start. I am particularly pleased with the color photo because I was basically shooting blind at that point. It was really dark, the camera was still set on manual focus, and I wasn’t even sure where they were anymore. Sheer luck! So, now I know they are not afraid of or bothered by the flash – great news for me…more pictures with less guilt! Stay tuned for Stakeout Mbili!