[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2008/images/06/19/art.pip.friends.jpg caption="Some of the Planet in Peril team- Anderson Cooper, Neil Hallsworth, Phil Littleton, and Dr. Sanjay Gupta"]
Editor's note: The Planet In Peril crew is back stateside, and some are doing better than others... and by 'others' we mean Cameraman Phil Littleton. Seems he caught a stomach bug. He writes us this blog:
For the past five weeks I’ve been in Africa, the land of my birth, the continent I love. We traveled from Chad, through Rwanda, and into Cameroon. We ended our journey deep in the forests of the DRC and all along the way, there was plenty of hospitality. The folks of the continent have always given of their hospitality, even if it were meager, they were always willing to share. The fare at times did not seem palatable, when dressed in its original clothing, once cooked, it was quite enjoyable… and so not to offend our hosts, we ate everything…
…Zoonotics…This is a word I have learnt. (It is about the study of “nunus” found in animals). All I know about it is that there are Field Virologists who go out into the jungles to find the Zoonotics. Sound simple – not really.
To film this you have to wander through the rolling hills of Cameroon, with the indigenous hunters, looking for little furry animals—which are trapped and killed.
Right…The rolling hills are covered in thick jungle, with all sorts of nasty vegetation, sometimes so thick, getting my large pink body through into the bush, is akin to thumbing a marshmallow through a keyhole.
On the day (yes, eight hours) I went in we did not see one living animal, except a porcupine, but alas a sharp blow to the head with a machete ended that as it dangled in the hunters snare, he did however have nine hungry mouths to feed back in the village. The blood I’d collected and analyzed—finding out what dark secrets await us.
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.
Sharp stones covered the ground, all the ground. Perched on top were make-shift homes. Well, if you could call them that, filled with people. And the people – chased by the endless ebb and flow of war which has ravaged the region for years. What on earth am I doing here?
It started earlier in the morning when Charlie and I crossed tediously into the DRC looking for the Congolese Mountain Gorillas. The other guerrillas – the ones with big guns and nasty habits – have taken over the mountain neighborhood homes of the gentle giants. There is no end in sight to the conflict.
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