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24 October

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[Up at 0000h and 0330h; I hope my belly's not feeling quite so rebellious tomorrow]

Woke around 5.10, for a very quick shower and dress. I met Ed, and found out that Dianne had slept through my alarmclock, so I went down to the steps to look for Sappho with one of the locals. I didn't want to waken her, in case she decided to go to the water, but I called her, and heard her snuffling around. I climbed into the vegetation, and she snorted at me - the classic warning/alert noise - which was presumably her waking up properly, but I held out my hand, which she sniffed, and she came up and curled along my thigh for a while, then started playing with the bottle of water I'd brought in case Dianne was thirsty. She was so soft, not exactly velvety, but a thick hide, and much softer than a cat.

I tried to get the local to go up to the house and fetch Dianne, but he just nodded and smiled at me. I was getting frustrated at that, but if we don't share a common language... I'm sure I wouldn't know what he was saying if he'd asked me to do the same thing.

After a while, while I was talking to Sappho, I heard voices, so I called out that I had her with me. Sappho yawned a few times, so I got to see her teeth up close. They didn't look so big, but I suppose it's their sharpness and how strong the jaw is that matters. Sappho stood up and went over to Dianne and the fish. It turns out that Edward had woken Dianne, not the local guy.

So Sappho played around in the pumphouse with the water bottle, then someone brought some coffee, and we took Sappho down to the steps and played there. Dianne told me about Atilla and Ethelred the Unready - neotropical otters they'd been given by a misunderstanding - and Tugger, who'd become Atilla's best friend; Atilla made a holt just downriver from the steps. Dianne is sure Atilla was waiting for Tugger to come back. It seems Tugger became agressive towards 'other' girls, on one occasion biting all along one girl's arm (she was in a boat, hand trailing in the water, despite having been warned to stay away) and Tugger caught her high on the arm, then bit lower and lower, getting her other hand when she tried to defend herself, then her heels when she ran to the other end of the boat.

Dianne also mentioned Persephone and three other otters (whose names escape me) who started the family that Rewa eventually joined (by chasing for a fish Dianna had thrown for the family to /distract/ them from Rewa, and swimming over to the dominant male and presenting it before rolling onto his back and pawing up in a submissive gesture).

The man who looked after Atilla and Ethelred, Dianne thinks, used to tease them by grabbing their tails and swinging them into the river. She thinks Ethelred managed to curl round and bite him on the leg, and perhaps his reflex action broke her neck/spine. He returned saying Ethelred had swum off, but Dianne says neotropicals mate for life, so simply swimming off would be unthinkable. Later, the boy's father admitted he'd killed her because she'd bitten him, but didn't admit to the tail-swinging.

Peter The Great came from a saw mill, flown by sea-plane (landing on the river) then land-plane. When he came, he was young, and his feet were't tough enough for the gravel in the area, so Dianne would carry him to save his paw-pads from wearing through. Of course, otters get used to things, and he learned that Dianne was an otter taxi. :) Peter was very tame, and only slept out four times. The area around Karanambu Landing was then adopted by the Persephone group, who eventually objected to Peter when he presumably smelled mature, and they made a few attempts to kill him. Sadly, the girl Dianne had left to keep watch, hadn't been told what to do if the otters fought, and didn't have the initiative to come and get Dianne until she'd lost sight of them.

On an earlier occasion, Dianne had seen Peter and the other otters fighting, two holding his head down for longer and longer, with Peter yelling shorter and shorter each time. She got out and distracted them with fish, and Peter escaped.

Still earlier, they had him on land, werestled him to his back, and were biting his face. Then Dianne found an old stick and fetched it on the otters, but it was very rotten and 'exploded' (?but it distracted them enough for Peter to get away).

In the photo of Dianne holding Peter (insert link here), Peter's just snuffling Dianne's neck at the back.

They've all gone off the Accari pond before breakfast, but I've stayed here due to gut problems, which the immodium may have helped with.

Very odd dream last night... I opened the sterile surgical pack to check it, curious whether there were sterile needles, only to find a pathetic set of seamstress needles, some pliars, and lots of commerically branded things - sugared peanuts, soap, and other random stuff that manufacturers had decided would cast them in a good light to donate; including a bag of Persil washing powder which had split. Then everything else split too, of course.

The others came back from Accari pond, having seen the three otters, who saw them, gave the warning call, and disappeared in the direction of where they're thought to have a holt, but reappeared so swiftly that the others thought it was merely a formality. Back at Karanambu, I wandered down the steps to watch Rohan with Sappho. I'm not sure what Rohan's supposed to do, but it looked like he'd given her two fish at once. She ate one fish's tail, then juggled another she found. She was then distracted by the fishing boat (the man who catches fish each day for the otters and the people) and swam after it, so Rohan continued calling her back, while I walked along the riverside path to the landing, looking for her, then back to the main house, and down to the steps again. Eventually I met Melanie and her family at the landing, and Rohan was sent back to the steps where he found her and brought her back. I petted and stroked her, then we went for breakfast. Stomach still gurgly.

Dianne showed me a picture of Atilla and Peter. Atilla looked about the same size as a common otter, especially compared with Peter, even though Peter was still only young.

Dianne wants an old style alarm-clock, and perhaps a jam-jar grip/opener thing.

I need to find a copy of Samaki for Dianne, along with a list of the other otters books I have.

Dianne said (while in Sappho's house, tidying and refilling Sappho's pool) that she's criticized for not being more scientific, and that she's labelled as rehabilitating the otters, but she says it just pleases her to give them somewhere save, and they rehabilitate themselves.

I just went to check on Sappho's pool, and found it shallow, so I wandered over to tell Mel/Ed. They're busy preparing for some doctors they've only just been told will be arriving shortly, so I told Dianne. She's about to go swimming with Sappho, so I went back to my hut and slathered on the waterproof sunblock, and waited for Dianne, reading. We walked down, and found Sappho in the brush; Dianne and Rohan called her out and into the water. I went in with Dianne, and waded about - the water's quite shallow, although Dianne warned me about stingrays; apparently you have to stamp your feet to warn them off, or their tails come up when you tread on them. I mostly forgot about that while playing with Sappho - crouching down, patting the water, trying to catch her. I towed her under her forelegs, around and around, but she's more used to being towed around with a finger hooked behind her canines, so somehow we ended up doing that! Cute, but I think I'll avoid that if there's a next time. She climbed on my back, and shoulders, and swam between my knees. Her tail is strong and muscled, and you can feel the vertibra bumps along its upper side, just like on a kangaroo, but hers is flatter than a roo's.

She started taking mouth-holds on my arm (about enough to hold on, but not even pinching; perhaps it would rapidly have grown rougher as she grew more excitable) but Dianne decided she was getting too rough, so we moved towards the steps and out.

We had to tempt her up with a fish, and Dianne carried her a few times, saying she might be less likely to return to the river, if she was further from it.

On the way back, I commented on the tricky balance of treating her like a pet and a wild animal, to which Dianne agreed. Apparently, there'd been a softer path for the otters, better than the gravel, but it went. I didn't entirely gather why. Also, Dianne's father had better plumbing, but it'd been replaced a couple of times - the metal pipes started leaking, and the raised plastic pipe from the river to the compound had Agouti chewing through it to get at the water!

She walked back to her house, and was clearly very sleepy. Even Dianne flicking the towel in and out of her sleeping barrel to clear the mosquitos didn't excite her. Dianne rearranged her blankets, and we snuck off.

I suggested clear perspex tubes, sealed at one end, connected by T-junctions to act as water-tank monitors on the down pipes, and perhaps as pressure-gauges on the up-pipes to tell when the feed pressure was good. 1200-1345 reading, then over to the big house for what sounds like singing.

[ Sappho's vocalisations: arrreeEEEeeeeEEEeeeeEEEeeeooo = want attention, and the rather cuter 'hurry up' which is 'm-m-m-m-m-m' as quickly as a child making an uh-huh-huh-huh-huh machine-gun noise ]

Minor excitement: the power went off. It turns out that my hut's light switch went wrong. As a result, I find the hole in the mosquito net, so I hope that's how the tiny mosquito from last night found its way in. Very tired. Up at 6 tomorrow. Hopefully gyppy stomach's sorted out, although it still feels gurgly.

Ash - English by birth, but moved to South Africa and Botswana during his youth. Moved back to England, then out to Guyana. Periodically returns to the UK to visit his sister and brother. [Unreadable] Guyana at Dianne's request, to work at Karanambu.

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This page last changed Sat Dec 25 00:35:52 2004