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  Field Notes From
Hotspots: The Philippines



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On Assignment
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From Author
Priit J. Vesilind



On Assignment

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From Photographer
Tim Laman



In most cases these accounts are edited versions of a spoken interview. They have not been researched and may differ from the printed article.

Photographs by Jodi Cobb (top), Tim Laman
 

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Hotspots: The Philippines

Field Notes From Photographer
Tim Laman
Best Worst Quirkiest

On my first day on Panay Island with the team from the Philippine Endangered Species Conservation Project, local hunters brought in a live specimen of a monitor lizard that turned out to be a species previously unknown to science. Itís not every day that a new species of lizard about five feet (two meters) long is discovered. This unusual lizard was very black, had long claws for climbing trees, and small teeth for eating plants. What especially struck me about the lizard was its remarkable dinosaur-like eyes. I made a close-up of one of its eyes. It ended up as the lead picture for the article.



It was just getting light as my guide, Noah Jackson, and I scrambled up a steep rain forest slope on the way to a blind I had set up to view a hornbill nest. As we entered the blind, I barely noticed Noah squinting with one eye. A few minutes later, as I settled down, I looked over at Noah and asked him if he had something in his eye. He said he did. When I took a closer look, I saw that a small leech had attached itself to his eyeball. It had already started to fill with blood. I gave Noah a mirror so he could try to pull the leech off, but he couldnít get ahold of the slippery bugger. Finally I held his head steady with one hand, grabbed the leech between my fingernails, and pulled it off. It must have been excruciatingly painful for Noah, but he was stoic. His whole eye turned bloodred, but it was back to normal after a few days.



In order to photograph wildlife and plants in the remote Sierra Madre on Luzon Island, we planned a 12-day expedition into the region. A group of local porters helped us carry in all our photographic and camping gear, and we set up camp along the banks of a boulder-strewn river flowing out of the mountains. As we gathered around the dinner pot for our share of noodle soup, we realized that no one had remembered to bring utensils. No problem, I thought. I used to whittle a lot when I was a kid. I grabbed a piece of bamboo and started making a spoon. Soon most of the group had crafted their own utensils. Best idea of the night? The easiest eating utensils to make are chopsticks.





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