Saturday, January 26, 2008

The 103rd good thing about Lagos: A peek at natural Nigeria.

Life is settling into a familiar rhythm here. The weather has actually been very pleasant -- not too hot, though we have the Harmattan winds bringing dust from the Sahara, so it can be somewhat hazy. But it's quite a nice time to be here. We finally got our outdoor grill hooked up to the gas (here they have butane in the tanks instead of the propane we have in the States) and grilled some chicken and had dinner out on the balcony tonight.

In light of the nice weather, we decided last Saturday to take an outing we had been trying to schedule for a while out to the Lekki Conservation Center. This is an area that is across from the Chevron compound on the Lekki Peninsula where they have designated a nature preserve. It is funded and maintained by Chevron, which is quite a good thing for them to do. The plants and trees are indigenous to the property.

It's kind of amazing to see the lush growth and realize that this is what the peninsula used to be like before the mad expansion of Lagos led to the clearing of the land. We arrived and looked through a photography display in the main building, and were met by a staff member who informed us that they were replacing the boardwalks through the nature area, so we wouldn't be able to walk through the different habitats on that day. Too bad! We'll have to wait for another visit to check out the crocodiles. But the guide did walk us around to show us a few things that we could see around the main building.

When we walked toward the boardwalk, we had a bunch of peahens come running in a mad dash for us. They didn't waste too much time around us after learning that we hadn't brought any treats for them. Next time, I promise! But the peacock didn't have any hard feelings and pirouetted for a nice display.

The staff member pointed out a couple of very large tortoises -- one sheltered by the lumber being stored under one of the residence buildings, and another sunning itself in the open. There were also 5 babies that had been born last July. He showed us the hole under the roots of a tree which was the home for another tortoise that he said was the oldest at 101 years. (He didn't say who documented the birth year.) The big ones were at least a couple of feet in diameter and the babies were about as big as my palm.

He pointed out the monkeys in the trees. He said that the ones peering out at us from a distance would come into the open if we had a banana or other treats to offer, but they were wild and would keep their distance from us. But they were clearly curious about us and whether we had any offerings for them. Later we had a visit from a Mona monkey in the branches of a tree right over the path. He said this monkey was donated to the Center and was accustomed to people, so she wasn't shy at all. Next time we'll bring some food to share with them.

I see wildlife like the pictures below on the roads every day, but it was a breath of almost fresh, albeit dusty, air to see some animals in setting that's a bit more natural.

1 comment:

grace trott said...

have read your blog...nearly entirely now!!! and it has been slightly comforting as it is the only positive thing I have seen on Lagos!! I am leaving in January for a week in Nigeria to support my brother in law marrying his nigerian fiancee, and I am terrified! my husband is hoping it will be an adventure, your blog has made me think he may have a point and not to be so scared! thanks!