Here in Abidjan, I am staying at the Centre Suisse de Recherches Scientifiques, a scientific organization that helps us with logistics here and also maintains a nice hostel for researchers in their compound in Yopougon. We're right on one of the lagoons (and can hear the Chinese dredgers working to take sand from the lagoon floor all day). Back in the 60s and 70s, the center was totally forested, and there were groups of Campbell's monkeys in the grounds. In fact, one of the first studies of Campbell's monkeys, which was published in the 70s, was carried out here. Unfortunately, the monkeys are long gone, and so is most of the forest cover (a combination, I think, of hunting and building expansion). There are lots of neat birds in the area, though, and we hear bush babies (galagos) and rock hyraxes all night. There are lizards and geckos all over the place - I am currently watching a tiny gecko, maybe three inches long, hut for spiders on the patio ceiling! There are also squirrels.
So yesterday, I was sitting on a patio overlooking the lagoon, when a squirrel started running around. I looked a little closer - and saw a long snake slithering up the tree. The squirrel started jabbing at the snake, chittering at it and trying to chase it away from a big hollow in the tree. The snake was having none of this, and struck the squirrel at least once while the squirrel ran around and around the trunk. He actually knocked the snake off the tree to the ground! This went on for maybe 20 minutes, and then things calmed down and the snake disappeared.
About an hour later, the snake showed up again (I assume it was the same one, anyway) and slithered up the tree trunk, this time without the squirrel noticing. He went all the way into the hollow, stayed there for a while, and then came back out and relaxed on an adjacent branch for a while. The squirrel showed up a little while later, and chased him away again. And just now as I am writing this blog, I'm sitting on the same patio and the snake is slithering up towards the hollow. I haven't seen the squirrel yet - I hope he didn't get eaten! I'm guessing the snake may be a green mamba - he's green, with a yellow underbelly, and a reddish tinge to his tail. He's probably about 4 feet long, with a rounded head (not diamong shaped like a viper). He's pretty, but I'll watch him from the patio with my binoculars and keep my fingers crossed for the squirrel.
Today is my last day in Abidjan - I'll leave for the forest tomorrow. The roads are bad enough that we expect it to take two days between here and Tai, so I should be surrounded by monkeys sometime Friday afternoon! I'm waiting for Anderson to come back from the bank, and then would like to load up the truck with supplies so that we can get an early start tomorrow. Hopefully, next time I write, I'll be at the internet café in the forest!