Today was quite possibly one of the best days of my trip so far. We did a census of Balacha Sur and the morning started off with some challenges. The Cybertracker stopped working right as we got to the trail head, so we had to walk back to the wildlife center and switch it out for another one. This delayed us about half an hour and we hadn’t gotten an early start to begin with, but we were still hopeful. As we walked I became slightly disappointed, and when we finally reached the end of the trail we hadn’t seen a single monkey, just heard the call of a male red-eared guenin.
We took our lunch break and were rather disheartened, but planned on getting an earlier start the next day. With low expectations for the census back, we trudged up the muddy hill, slipping and tripping on thorny vines. After some time, we saw a couple of groups of red-eared guenins, and decided things were looking up after all. All of the sudden, we heard a loud cacaaaawww! It was the crow of a male drill, one of the rarer primate found in this region. The sound was terrible, but so exciting! We kept walking and hearing the calls, hoping to meet up with the group later on along the trail. Things quieted down after a little bit and we kept walking, and finally we heard a loud call again right off the trail! We sat on the edge of a ridge that opened up into a foliage filled canyon, and we could hear movement down below. There was a group of five Bioko drill monkeys ascending the hillside: two males, one female, and two juveniles. I was able to see them clearly through my binoculars, and I even got of view of their colorful rear ends! We watched their interactions for about 10 minutes until they left again. Our guide said we had been lucky to see them because they would have run away if they had not be fighting over a mate. It was the most amazing wildlife sighting of the trip so far, and quite possibly one of the best moments of my life. I can’t wait to see how things go tomorrow, but I don’t think much can top this!