Hippos, and crocs and C-sections

Yes, hello!

The rainy season is finally setting in properly, and our little family has been enjoying the relief that the afternoon showers bring (although less welcome is the associated mosquito boom)
We’ve been keeping ourselves occupied since I last updated, with a number of veterinary and some totally non-veterinary-related activities.
This past week, Dor, Jenna and I made our way out to Wechiau Hippo Sanctuary. We arrived at the bus depot around 6:30 am, because despite the constant reminders of how things really run on Ghana-time, it’s so deeply ingrained in us to arrive on Canadian time. After about an hour of waiting around, we pile into a mini-van (called tro-tros here) and wait impatiently. Apparently, these tro-tros only depart when a suitable number of people are seated, so I counted the number of remaining spaces. Aside from Dor, Jenna and I, occupying the back bench, there were 2 other benches in front and the passengers seat. Seeing as how there were already 3 other passengers sitting with us, my hasty calculation estimated that we just needed another 6 , maybe 8 people to show up before we could hit the road. “Excuse me, how many people before the tro-tro can go?” Jenna asked our driver. “24 passengers”
Errrrrrrrrr….
The spirits of Canadian transport safety must have been watching over us, however, because Jenna then noticed a bus doubled parked in front of our tro-tro with “Wechiau Hippo Sanctuary” printed on the side. We chat with the driver, who used to be a tour guide there, and he says we can ride along in that vehicle provided we don’t mind that he needs to stop to pick up various chairmen on the way. We climb into this van, and are politely greeted by the officials who join us at various points along the journey. It turns out, there was a CIDA supported event going on, featuring many Canadians working on a reforestation-to-prevent-desertification project, hence all the officials gathering at the sanctuary (I made a very subtle plug for our own food security project.)
Our kind driver took us right to the river, and set us up with a senior guide and a canoe. Within minutes, we were watching 14 hippos wallow in the water (if only there had been a VWB hippo project…); we also had the chance to step (illegally) onto Burkina Faso soil. Then back into our official vehicle, arriving in Wa hours before we had even hoped. Funny how some things just work out here.

Jenna and I were given the chance to observe even more Ghanaian wildlife when we visited a nearby crocodile pond with Kirstin & Co. The highlight of this trip was watching a giant crocodile (“grandfather”) lunge out onto shore, miss the chicken bait and disappear back into the water with our guide’s sandal. Jenna actually has a video of this event, and it is truly Youtube worthy. Once we are back in Canada with access to cheap internet, I will see if I can link that for you, my loyal readers.

Last week, Dor and I assisted with a C-section on a goat. It is astonishing how surgery can be performed in conditions so different than the incredibly sterile/high-tech/well stocked facilities that we are accustomed to learning in. Despite the almost complete lack of sterility, and with very limited resources, the C-section was successful and both the goat and her kid are doing well today.

In terms of our project, Dor and I are really motoring along. We are currently working on creating educational posters for each of the four villages, describing the signs, transmission and treatment/control of four diseases (infectious bursal disease, Newcastle, coccidiosis and various parasites e.g. roundworms) identified by Kirstin and Steve during their necropsy surveys last summer. As someone who tends towards being grossly verbose, attempting to minimize the written descriptions in order to maximize the accessibility of the information to all interested villagers was a challenge for me. We included some coloured photographs of lesions, and Dor lent her artistic touch to some fun little diagrams. These posters also emphasize the role that the proposed project would play, vis-a-vis the hatchery/breeding flock/health management/nutrition/housing systems. I really hope we can get some feedback on how useful these posters are for the villagers….

On a final guinea fowl related note!
During our last visit to Nator, one of the village elders presented us with 15 guinea fowl eggs. We were really impressed by this gesture, as these eggs are very valuable (and tasty! I have been making guine fowl egg French toast for my wives)

I will come and go,

Ilona