Since I’m feeling a little under the weather on the day of this writing, I decided to pick a topic that makes me feel all warm and fuzzy. Bonus points that it’s a subject that doesn’t require too much research or, frankly, deep thought. So here goes.
I was watching an episode of an amazing five-part documentary series called Our Great National Parks, which is narrated by Barack Obama. You can find it on Netflix, and I highly recommend it. And the best part is that it’s about great national parks not just in the United States, but all over the world, including Loango National Park in Gabon.
Gabon is not a country that I hear about very often, so it was fascinating to explore it a bit via this documentary. In particular, I was taken by the footage of Hippos surfing in the Atlantic Ocean waves. These creatures love the water, but usually stick to inland rivers or swamps. But for some reason, the Hippos in this neighborhood are even more hip than usual they like to keep it salty. And they’re fun to watch. From a distance. If you don’t have the opportunity to see the fantastic documentary, at least check out this amazing Youtube video, and this one.
Possibly the first photos of these Hippos’ antics were taken by Michael Nichols, a photographer and journalist, who traveled to the area with Michael Fay, a researcher for the National Geographic Society. Those photos were taken in 2000.
Nichols’ beautiful images of that region drew the attention of Omar Bongo, who had been president of Gabon from 1967 until his death in 2009. Bongo was inspired by them to create a system of national parks, and by 2002, 11 percent of the country is now protected wilderness. He was hoping that the country would benefit from ecotourism, but according to this article, Gabon is still hard to get to and travel through, still lacks the infrastructure, and is plagued by corruption, so the idea of making Gabon the African Costa Rica is having trouble gaining traction.
Let’s hope that situation turns around, because if not, these parks may be deforested and mined and eventually destroyed, and these very cool hippos will be left with nowhere to hang ten. That would definitely harsh my mellow, dude.
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