June 11th, 2008
09:37 AM ET

Hunting for "bush meat"

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2008/images/06/11/art.philonjeff.jpg]

Phil Littleton
Senior Photojournalist

Why are my lungs burning and legs aching? Could it be I finally made it to my half century earlier this year? There were many who doubted I would reach this milestone.

Or, was it the large amount of beer that was forced down my throat the previous evening… going up an endless hill with the promise of seeing wild gorillas..."not far now"...the voice of Charlie, our producer, egging me on. Fine for him to say – the southern mountain goat – I mutter darkly a phrase that is very similar to…love and travel.

The journey is always there, we have to do it, sometimes smooth, interesting, and a tad troublesome— at the end the reward of seeing something new, hearing new points of view and being able to share with you...priceless.

Standing in the street or downtown market, the top of a hill, the middle of the desert people always come up to you, "what are you doing"? I am standing with a large tripod with a big camera atop – "I'm in my office working," I reply, and "I did not hear you knock when you stepped in."

I figure I have some of the best "borrowed" office space in the world. In the case of Rwanda certainly the cleanest, never seen a country anywhere in the world so clean – and in Africa.

From Chad to Rwanda, briefly into the Congo and now to hook-up with Sanjay in the Cameroon to do a little hunting for "bush meat" and find out where some fine exotic viruses come from – can't wait.

As always

soundoff (19 Responses)
  1. Bren from Atlanta

    Bonjour Phillip,
    I find myself waiting up every night to read your posts from afar and toasting to your travels. Don't worry about preserving your innards with a goodly amount of alcohol. It cures the ills of that foul land and will kill the bad ills of malaria, cholera and other foulness bourn in that bad land. Cheers the soul from sadness as well. I found that sadness bears on the wind just being in the place...Chad, Bosnis, Kevu, Rwanda, Bukuvu, the names just reek with souls of lives lost man and primates...so sad. But I am thankful that there are souls such as yours to document for those who cannot go there for generations to come ...for my grandchildren...lives lived...thank you my friend. Cheers! Light the fire and spread the flame. May we spead the warmth until tomorrows come again and again. Safe travels my friend. Bon chance!! Bren in Atlanta (MSF)

    June 11, 2008 at 10:58 pm |
  2. Eugenia - San Francisco

    Can a link be set up to see your other pictures?

    June 11, 2008 at 8:40 pm |
  3. Ratna, New York, NY


    It sounds like you are de-hydrated. THanks for the update and the dead elephant put tears in my eyes.

    How is the climate and the air quality?

    June 11, 2008 at 7:37 pm |
  4. Sharon from Indy

    I see 50 as the beginning of a second adulthood. At your age, and mine as well, you know who you are and don't take much gruff from anyone. That in itself is a milestone.

    Yes, the bones may be a wee bit achier and the trek a bit longer, but the wisdom of your time on this planet will only show in the images you share with us. Obviously a gifted photojournalist, the work you do could not be copied if it wasn't for the years and miles you have traveled.

    June 11, 2008 at 7:19 pm |
  5. Cherisa

    How fortunate you are not to be confined to four walls and a chair for eight hours a day.

    Thank you for all you endure to bring us the world, to open our eyes to details we might never observe on our own.

    Stay safe and keep posting.

    June 11, 2008 at 6:46 pm |
  6. Sabrina in Los Angeles


    I hope you guys take lots of pictures and do a slideshow of sorts to show the vastness of this country.

    Shows us the people in their everyday lives – candidly.

    How do they dress? What kinds of living arrangements do they have?

    One of my favorite pictures of Anderson is him sitting on an electrical or supply box working on his laptop in the village.

    It is interesting that you say that even though they are in Africa, it is very clean. I guess we associate jungle areas with uncivilized. It would be neat to see a picture of the comparison – the jungle set next to the town, if it is that close.

    Oh and Happy Birthday. Don't drink, it will kill you and then you can't share your cool pictures or explore.

    June 11, 2008 at 6:42 pm |
  7. Anders Scooper

    George might not take your remark, kindly. 🙂

    June 11, 2008 at 6:30 pm |
  8. JC- Los Angeles

    I'm hopeful that on your wonderful journey you can discover someone who's selfless, bi-partisan, honest, trustworthy, humble, ethical, kind, humane, worldly, driven, experienced and empowering to come back and lead the United States of America. Our once proud nation needs this discovery.

    June 11, 2008 at 4:37 pm |
  9. Jo Ann

    Dear Phil,

    You may be complaining about your job now, but I bet you wouldn’t trade it for a boring nine to five! I am sure that you feel privileged to be able to travel to such exotic and interesting places. The difficulties you face getting your stories probably make the rewards that much more satisfying. I am sure that you have stored up many wonderful memories to share with your family and friends.

    As a vegetarian I am a little nervous about seeing your report on “bush meat,” and although I do envy your ability to travel for a living, I don’t think that I would want to go looking for exotic viruses, but I will watch the reports with interest.

    Maybe John McCain could have given you some hiking pointers!

    Keep those great blogs coming; they are always appreciated!

    Jo Ann
    North Royalton, Ohio

    June 11, 2008 at 2:50 pm |
  10. Lorie Ann, Buellton, California

    Hi Phil,
    Remember the glass is always half full, not half empty. That goes for age or life and of course, beer. Hang a Do Not Disturb sign on your back. It might keep the masses from entering your "office space."
    You haven't come upon the roaming gnome yet, have you? I hear he's a mountain goat too, besides being kicked to the curb, thrown over a cliff, and mowed down by a luggage cart..What some people will do to bring you the joys of travel! To be serious, keep up the good work and I think we viewers do appreciate the grueling work that goes on behind the scenes to create the finished product. "It's not far now." Take Care

    Lorie Ann, Buellton, Calif.

    June 11, 2008 at 2:09 pm |
  11. Kent Fitzsimmons,Illinois

    we appreciate your efforts..........I'll watch for what you show us...............

    June 11, 2008 at 2:02 pm |
  12. Kristen- Philadelphia, PA

    Wow, that must be an amazing job. Do you plan on having a photo slide show on the site? I would like to see more pics.

    June 11, 2008 at 1:40 pm |
  13. deborah, OH

    Phil, thanks for your interesting blog. And, again, like Minou, we are all very very jealous of you guys! Just keep the 'sharing' coming, please.

    And, please, Anderson, don't bring home any 'souvenir viruses'. But, do keep in touch–we miss you.

    And, thanks again, Phil, for your 'half century' observations!

    Stay safe, all of you.

    June 11, 2008 at 12:38 pm |
  14. Betty Ann, Nacogdoches,TX

    Hi Phil!
    I can't wait to hear what you and Dr. Gupta come up with.
    All those meds and alcohol take their toll. Better get Dr. Gupta to check your liver enzymes.;-)
    Don't worry too much about being 50. My Grandmother lived to be 112 1/2!!! Just stay active and cut back on the alcohol consumption~
    You'll be alright unless you get trampled by an elephant or donkey in '08. HA!
    Take care of yourself and no accidents. Since misery loves company, I was bitten by a copperhead a few weeks ago. It made me sick but it could have been worse. I didn't get full venom.
    ok, see? Others can get in a pickle too! Nothing that a little tequilla can't cure!

    June 11, 2008 at 12:00 pm |
  15. Annie Kate


    Sounds like quite the safari you are on. I know that phrase too – :not far now" – from a hike where the slope seemed like it was straight up and there was a crew just out of sight frantically making the mountain bigger so there was further to hike. I'm glad you made it and got to enjoy a good beer after the trek.

    If you find any fine exotic viruses please don't bring them home as souvenirs. They can remain right where they are for as long as possible!

    Annie Kate
    Birmingham AL

    June 11, 2008 at 11:03 am |
  16. Tammy, Berwick, LA

    Deadly viruses, good viruses, cause the CDC to go into cardiac arrest viruses? Sounds like fun just so long as they don't come home as unwanted souvenirs.

    Beer drinking, Ambien gnawing, gin and tonic drinking, hill climbing, gorilla watching, guerilla watching, malaria prevention, virus hunting, awesome scenery–what a fun job! Can we say risk management nightmare?

    Stay safe all of you.

    June 11, 2008 at 10:38 am |
  17. Mike Ryan

    Anderson: With all the doom and gloom regarding the economy, why don't we hear anything about the Bakkan Oil Fields in N. Dakota, Montana and Canada? It is my understanding the USGS released a report saying the Bakkan Oil is the largest oil field ever discovered in North America. Why isn't anyone reporting on this? Today on CNN they spent a good deal of time talking about the green background when McCain speaks. For the love of God, why do I have to hear about the largest oil find in history from my neighbor. What is going on? Am I missing something?


    June 11, 2008 at 10:38 am |
  18. Cindy

    Great to hear from you again Phil! You are one lucky man to get to go to all of these exotic and fascinating places to film. I would imagine that you have seen it all. Thanks for the updates on what you all are doing for PIP2 over there. I hope that we get to see a great report from you all tonight.

    And stay away from all of that beer and you can be like Charlie...the mountain goat...and that'll make your treks a bit easier! LOL


    June 11, 2008 at 10:22 am |
  19. Minou, New York City

    Hey Philip
    thanks for the update! I can only repeat myself: I envy you!

    June 11, 2008 at 9:59 am |