Biologist, Conservationist, & Portlander. My passion lives in Africa.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Now that's determination.

1:09 PM Posted by Tara Easter No comments

I once sat on a rock for 8 straight hours while conducting research on rattlesnake/squirrel behavior in California. I was waiting on a squirrel to approach our bait station so I could launch a harmless, spring loaded cannon to measure his reaction time. The target squirrel had already been scared away once because of the presence of a rattlesnake, and because of this, we predicted that his reaction time would be faster out of the fear of a snake still possibly being around.

I had a feeling, however, that one sighting was all this little buddy needed, and he was not coming back. I was right. The rest of the crew finally called my team in; they were hungry, and we were all tired of waiting. We'd try again tomorrow.

My butt was bruised, and sitting on anything hard was quite uncomfortable. Erynn, my friend and co-intern who sat there with me kept saying, "It's OK, this is just training for the big leagues, for when we have to wait for 7 months to film a snow leopard hunt in the wild." We were quite fond of that episode of Planet Earth. If you haven't seen it, you should.

I thought that was hardcore. But it doesn't compare to John Lukas's work. Featured in a book I am reading called "Wildlife Heroes", this admirable man especially caught my attention. He has been working to protect okapis for 25 years, and has never even seen one in the wild.

This strange and elusive animal, the only living relative of the giraffe, is a master of disguise. This, in turn, makes them very difficult to study. Scientists aren't even sure of how many there are. Thought only to live in the forests of the Democratic Republic of Congo, John Lukas's Okapi Conservation Project works there to establish protected areas for the okapi. 

I can't imagine being so dedicated to one species that I had never even had the privilege of seeing. I applaud Mr. Lukas for his outstanding commitment to the conservation of this unique animal. 


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