Today will be the first of a two part update on some exciting research going on in Shimoni Forest. We are attempting to build on work previously done in 2001 by Julie Anderson and then in 2007 by GVI. We are doing a colobus census of the whole forest!
Marta is a volunteer here with us for three months and is currently working towards her masters in environmental modeling, monitoring and reconstruction. She contacted us asking if she could use her time here to do the field-work for her project in the forest, consisting mainly of a colobus census – we welcomed her with open arms!
Preparing to synchronise watches
We timed the census for when we had the most number of people on the mainland, and managed to get a keen group of 15 people fired up and ready. To do the census we require groups to conduct what is essentially a primate community survey along all of our regular transects, plus groups moving through the forest in between the transects following compass bearings, so a group every 100 metres. Unfortunately our GPS’s do not work in the forest due to poor satellite coverage, so we had to devise a cunning system of counting paces and regular check points coordinated using mobile phones (on silent of course!), to ensure we were all moving through the forest at a similar pace.
The team heading in
In an ideal world, you would have enough people to do the entire forest in a single day, leaving you with a ‘snapshot’ population count. We don’t have enough people so are having to do it over two days. For those groups traveling between our regular marked and cut transects, it was pretty rough going – there was plenty of crawling through thickets and fighting through thorns. However our sense of adventure and the belief in the value of the work prevailed, and lots of smiling faces headed back to base.
Getting through one of the many thickets!
During the day five groups of colobus, ten groups of sykes and one group of yellow baboon were sighted. Some of the other casual observations included a pair of zanj elephant shrews, hornbills, African fish eagles and lots of red bellied coastal squirrels!
One of the sighted colobus
We’re all tired, but looking forward a second day out in the forest. We really can’t wait to see the results and compare them with the previous years. I’ll hopefully get a post out letting you all know how it went!