National Geographic : 2000 Oct
Then there's his second driving motive. He doesn't voice it explicitly, but I will: Mike Fay is an untamable man who just loves to walk in the wilds. Completing this thousand-mile trek won't be easy, not even for him. There are dire dis eases, armed poachers, political disruptions, and other sorts of threat and mishap that could stop him. He's familiar with malaria and fila riasis, aware of Ebola, and has found himself inconveniently susceptible to foot worms, a form of parasite that can travel from elephant dung into exposed human feet, burrowing tunnels in a person's toes, only to die there and fester. But the biggest challenge for Fay will come after all his walking. Can he make good on the claim that this encyclopedia of field data will be useful? Can he channel his personal odyssey into practical results for the conservation of African forests? S UDDENLY, a mile and a quarter on, Fay makes a vehement hand signal: stop. As we stand immo bile and hushed, a young male elephant appears, walking straight toward us through the understory. Ndokanda slides pru dently to the back of the file, knowing well that a forest elephant, nearsighted and excitable, is far more dangerous than, say, a leopard. Fay raises the video camera. The elephant, visually oblivious and upwind of our smell, keeps coming. The videotape rolls quietly. When the animal is just 15 feet from him and barely twice that from the rest of us-too close for anyone's comfort-Fay says in a calm voice: "Hello." The elephant spooks, whirls around, disappears with its tail streaming high. Tusk length, about 40 centimeters, Fay says. Maybe ten or twelve years old, he estimates. It goes into his notebook. NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC, OCTOBER 2000 11cat circ/c III tlic iiiirrorlikc iirfiicc O'Lac /c /it Ilort/lcr/l ("()1w0l 0 1 '1/1 111'1'01111( Fif'tccll 1111/c awa 'V10Y'S olcl-111glits rcivillcd t1h, I,(V(,IIt pa,4 111all), /11011, pc()p/c 111vil III(/ J_(II'llWil [111' I'Cgi. 11, I011cli 111a), Ilan, /'ccI/ 1)y tllc4illv tradc.