After another couple of weeks in the field, we have now managed to complete a third of our transects and move our cameras and sound recorders to new locations. One of the most exciting events of the past week came courtesy of the rain. After leaving camp at sunrise and heading into the forest, the weather took an unexpected turn. About 500 metres from the forests boundary line everything turned dark and all of the insects (that are normally active at night) came back out again. It was at this point we decided to turn back immediately, just as the rain began. Following the trail back to the boundary was almost impossible in the near pitch black, especially on the one day we had both forgotten our torches! Unfortunately, we didn’t get back to camp before getting completely drenched, but it did mean a very early finish that day. When the rain eventually stopped, we managed to dry off and prepare to try again the following day. A parcel that arrived with us from University containing waterproofing spray was much appreciated… now our tents might actually keep some water out! We also received some extra camera traps with our delivery… so the problems we encountered with our camera trapping in the first instance should now all be solved.
Moving camera traps went much smoother than anticipated, and over the course of four (very long) days we managed to collect and reposition all of them in the Northern most section of the Reserve. Our tree climber, Joe, managed to get them placed nice and high so we are hoping for the best for these new locations.
Though we have seen only limited signs of primate presence in the South of the park, as we now start to head North we are hopeful that sightings and signs will increase. Over the coming days we are continuing with our transects, before everyone takes a well-deserved break this coming weekend. We will be heading to an Eco lodge to the South of Cape Three Points Reserve, for a few days of sun, sea and a little catch up on data entry (ooops!).
It has been some week. The most challenging so far by a mile! After a few days of walking transects, being bitten by ants, stung by wasps, and a lot of falling over, it was time to go and collect the first of our camera trap footage. It was also time for the rain to start pouring down and some of the tents to start leaking. We made it to the cameras only to find there had been several technical problems (hopefully all sorted now though). However, our sound recorders seem to have worked very well. While we won’t be able to analyse the data captured on these properly until our return to the UK, it appears they have been working exactly how we wanted them to.
While some of the team have travelled home to see their families, we have spent the last couple of days recuperating at the beach during a well earned break. It has been nice eating some different food! We were able to find pancakes (happy belated pancake day!), pizza and burgers which made a nice change from rice and spaghetti. However, it’s back to camp this afternoon for another week. We are both feeling more energised and are ready to find out for what the next few days have in store for us and our data collection… hopefully less rain and ants!
So, we have just completed our third day in the field! After a few delays last week (the majority related to truck repairs), we arrived at a local community to the west of Cape Three Points Reserve on Wednesday. We set up camp and settled in, greeted by the children wanting to spend time with us.
After a 4am start the next day, we conducted our first line transect through the reserve, walking for a mere 10 hours before we returned to camp. As I learnt within the first hour of being in the rainforest, a fear of spiders quickly disappears when you are constantly covered in them trying to scramble up and down hills. During both our first and second days of walking transects, we saw various signs of primates in the reserve, including what we believe to be vocalisations from the white-naped mangabey! Today, we started our systematic camera trapping and acoustic recording of the middle section of the reserve. Thankfully, we have our expert tree climber, Joe, to scale up to the top of the canopy to place cameras… it’s VERY high! Tomorrow we have another day of placing cameras and more sound recorders.
Though field work in the rainforest is extremely hard, it feels like it is getting easier by the day. Returning to camp completely soaking and dripping in sweat has become the norm, and slowly but surely our body clocks are adjusting to the very early wake-ups. After all the build-up, planning and preparation for this trip we are both very happy to have started our research projects and we are looking forward to what the coming months have in store for us…which will hopefully include lots of monkeys.