Published: February 26th 2010February 26th 2010
Sorry for my lack of an update but all I can say is that life got rather intense! Almost as soon as I got back from Puerto I started going out with the rest of the team following FC and scouting for new groups. These days typically start at 4am and end at 9pm with data entry. There is something incredibly satisfying about them, especially when you find a brand new group or follow an existing group in an area they haven't been seen in before. In the past few days our combined efforts have brought the total number of observed tamarins in the area up to 82. Now we just have to catch them all!
As so much has happened since my last post I'll just write about a few interesting recent happenings. The cabin Karina and I are sleeping in has been found to have a rather nasty infestation of termites! Of course the nest is right by the head of my bed. They aren't actually that much of a problem to us except that one day soon we will have to pack up all our stuff and move out for a few days so that the cabin can be fumigated. We also have another uninvited visitor in the cabin - a large rat. I have always been a fan of rats but this one has really annoyed me by nibbling at suitcases, running up and down my towel and generally being very noisy at night so that I am loosing sleep. Hopefully the fumigation of the cabin will convince him that our cabin isn't the best place to call home.
While Mini and Gideon were in Puerto, after much searching, they managed to find a juvenile saddleback we can use as a caller animal. He is currently at an animal rescue centre where he is being quarantined but in about two weeks he'll be arriving at CICRA. We don't want him to become too humanised so he'll be kept in his own enclosure. That meant that we needed to make one. A few afternoons ago, Gideon and I managed to knock one up out of wooden strips from old food boxes and chicken wire! The biggest problem with recycling wood is that each piece has several nails in it that need to be removed - that was my job. I worked out that I must have removed about 80 nails in total. The enclosure turned out rather nicely in the end. We even put in a little platform and a knotted rope that the little guy can climb on. My first foray into enclosure design!!
Yesterday was a particularly interesting day. Erin, Karina and I went out scouting, following a route Mini had decided upon. It involved walking down six different trails and once we got to the end of the route without finding a group we turned around and walked the way we had come. What made this more difficult was that we encountered a fair few steep ravines that had become very slippery from recent rain. Each time we went down and up these slopes we ended up slipping more and more. Thankfully just before we reached the beginning of the route, and would have had to follow it for a third time, we found a group of six individuals. They were quite fun to follow as they didn't seem at all troubled by us, even coming down to the ground to forage for insects. During the course of the day I spotted a large spider, that I am sure is some species of tarantula, in my way. Understandably, so I like to think, I got rather scared and jumped over it very quickly. Still shaking, I stood a little way from the spider. I suddenly felt what I thought was something crawling up my right leg. I almost jumped out of my skin and turned around to see Karina laughing and waving the stick she had rubbed against my leg. I will not repeat what I said to her! Earlier on in the day we saw a bullet ant attacking a little lizard. The poor creature was writhing from what must have been intense pain. Quite quickly it stopped moving, which we assumed meant that it had died. What a horrible way to go!
A few hours later, we followed the group as they disappeared into a bramble. They frequently do this when they want to rest as they are perfectly hidden from both aerial and terrestrial predators. It also makes them rather hidden from us. They hid out in this bramble for about half an hour. Just as they ventured out into a neighbouring tree, to eat some pacai, it started to rain very heavily. Typical. Thankfully they went back into the bramble after about 10 minutes of us trying to look up at them whilst being blinded by the falling raindrops. The rain continued for the next two hours. During that time something happened to me and I went a little gaga! To keep moral up, the three of us started singing songs about rain. Eventually, as often happens with girls of our age, we began singing Disney songs; a much better coping strategy than crying, which was the other attractive option. The rain didn’t let up so by 4pm, when the monkeys usually start heading to their sleeping tree, our group decided to go for a last munch on pacai. I was willing them to hurry up and go to bed. Finally, at 4:20pm they made a mad dash for a near-by large tree and stayed there. Unfortunately, this was not the end of the day for us as we had to find our way back to CICRA. We were about 200m away from the nearest trail and that was a good 1km away from camp.
By the time we got back to camp we were all very tired. While we were showering the day’s grime off us the rain, which had quitened down a bit by then, picked up a LOT. It was the heaviest rain I have ever seen in my life. Having all just put clean and dry clothes on, we were loathed to make the 2 minute walk up to main part of the camp from our cabins. Thankfully I had brought some waterproof trousers and a big waterproof jacket with me so I didn’t get completely soaked. As it was raining so hard Mini decided that we should take the next day off, as the rain was likely to continue, which meant we didn‘t need to do any data that evening. Instead we watched Monty Python and the Holy Grail! Mini also gave us the honour of naming the group we'd just followed. We found the group on a trail called 'Perro' but there was already a group named 'Perro 6'. Karina came up with the idea of naming them 'The Power Rangers' as there were apparently six power rangers in the TV series. As another treat we given the choice of colour for our trail on the GPS map. Erin suggested maroon but I thought that maroon should be saved for a group of five individuals, after the Pop group. This idea went down so well that one group that had been previously called 'Perro 5' had their name changed to 'Maroon 5'. Its a little bit sad what you find funny when you're in the jungle.
Today I got to lie in until 7:30am, what a luxury!! I’ve spent most of the day reading and just generally chilling out. Spending a day doing very little is wonderful and not at all boring when you’ve spent the past few days working as hard as we have.
Hopefully I won’t take quite such a long time to put up my next entry.
Lots of love
Emma and the monkeys