Greetings from the coast of Gabon. Following the outside edge of Africa, this Land Rover supported humanitarian odyssey is proving one of the greatest challenges of our lives. In Gabon the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) do excellent work in providing logistical and management support to the national parks. And so we have linked our world first attempt to circumnavigate Africa by land and sea to their conservation efforts.
In a school in Mayumba children gather excitedly to participate in the expedition’s Teaching on the Edge programme. The geography lesson is a giant map of Africa that pulls down from the side of the Land Rover.
The children recite the names of the 33 countries that make up the outside edge of Africa, then there’s a competition in which the pupils read off the countries’ names and flags that run down the length of the expedition Landies. Next on the programme is a delightful theatrical skit arranged by Aimee Sanders of WCS.
Little actors dressed in the costumes of sharks, jellyfish and giant leatherback turtles. The theme is about conserving turtles in the coastal nesting grounds of Gabon which are some of the best in the world. Don’t kill the turtles and don’t steal their eggs is the clear conservation message and there’s even a little fellow dressed as a tourist in a big straw hat and safari jacket. He points a mock cardboard camera, “take pictures only and leave nothing but footprints” – is his conservation message.
The Land Rover supported expedition then distributes mosquito nets, pens, pencils, exercise books, stop malaria stickers and a pair of reading glasses to the albino principle who suffers from poor sight.
He grins with joy and gratitude – no longer does he have to read at arms length. The English lesson to these little French speaking children is simply the chanting of “Please don’t kill the turtles – S’i vous plait ne tuez pas les tortues”. Quevain Makaya, a 29 year old Gabonese conservationist with the WCS is now traveling with the expedition as French interpreter and conservation educator, with his help we will keep up the good work as we continue north up the beautiful coast of Gabon.
Les, please give our best regards to the rest of the Land Rover team.
Best wishes and thanks for the support
Kingsley and the Africa Outside Edge team
P.S. As you know Don Pinnock from Getaway Magazine has been traveling with us as we’ve been making our way around the outside edge of Africa. He’s been great fun to travel with, swapping yarns around the campfire at night, chatting about the day’s activity and working out the journey ahead – not always easy following the edge of Africa, sticking to the coast. But Don’s been great, an old experienced traveler. First up in the morning, outside his small red tent blogging the stories off to distant Getaway. When he left from Pointe Noire in the Republic of Congo last week his last words were: please keep it up, even if it is just a few lines a week (have a look at getawaytoafrica.com ). So here goes.