Another big creek swell came up fast and silent, morning sunlight dancing in the skies flashed on its face. Rolling fast to my left, it lifted and dropped my eight-foot dugout canoe with the smooth motions of an elevator. I heaved a loud sigh and amidst the multitude of bird chatter around us, my two local guides at both ends of the canoe heard me and laughed. I smiled and shook my head, marvelling at how quickly they adjusted their oars and steered against the galloping waters.
About an hour later, the tides dropped, and we turned into a narrower creek, just as the gliding sun hid behind a pillow of spotless clouds. The paddlers rowed to a nearby creek edge where a narrow bush track meanders away into the interlocking mangrove forest. “Na here dem dey” announced Pius- the heftiest among the two guides, pointing to the distant end of the track road. “Ok then,” I said, lifting my tripod from the wet floor of the canoe, “make we go sharp sharp before dem go run comot”. Emma, the second guide, quickly jumped out from the bow of the canoe and moored it to the big stem of a nearby mangrove tree.
We trekked for a few minutes into mangrove thickets, carefully manoeuvring across shallow mud flats as we approached a fifteen meter-wide creek. With a swift gesture, Pius quickly ordered us to slow down and walk silently. At the instant, my ears and my eyes opened up, and a loud chorus of grunts swarmed my ear drums. At the other side of the creek, a myriad of Mona monkeys enveloped the tree tops, trunks and stilt roots in their tens. I swerved into a nearby foliage cluster and began to observe these amazing creatures.
The photos below summarizes the story that ensued:
A big mother monkey sat on a half-fallen branch near the top of a tree with her baby clung to her chest, and seemed to be dishing out orders to some other monkeys sitting on the lower branches. Most of them also had babies clung to their chests.
In an instant, three of the monkeys seated on the lower branches dashed into the muddy creek bank beneath the mangrove trees, and started rummaging through the shallow waters left-over by the receding tide.
They were hunting for trapped fishes and toads. the sight was amazing. They moved with such great stealth and furtiveness that no fish in the mud could elude their strike. They began to grapple things here and there in the water, munching at their picks and feeding their babies with the leftovers.
As the few monkeys hunted beneath the tress, others called out and danced anxiously on the branches above them, with gestures that suggested they were hoping for more catches.
Two gorgeously dressed woodpeckers perched nearby and watched the scene with great delight before deciding to make their own move. In a moment they began to fly in turns to a bag of beehive hanging from a tree branch above, treating themselves to a delicious breakfast of bee and honey.
We secretly watched as more drama followed, till both monkey and man had had their fills and began to withdraw to their homes- they, into the forest in their rear, and we, into our canoe nearby, satiated by the feast of natural wonder our eyes had just been fed with.
**The mona monkey (Cercopithecus mona) is an Old World monkey that lives throughout western Africa.**Tweet