It may be the weekend for you but we are working through it. Yesterday we spent the morning trekking through the forest observing the monkey’s behavior. Our group of three was able to do between a half hour and one hour observation on five different female monkeys. I finally was able to collect my first fecal sample (poop to be exact). Actually it was more like dodging it than collecting it. I was walking under a branch and felt something dripping on me. I quickly jumped to the side knowing it was probably monkey urine. As soon as I stepped aside I heard something hit the ground next to me. Once you know you have a sample you get out a small plastic bag and pick up the poop making sure the only thing you get is the poop. Next you mark the bag with the date, time and the name of the monkey. After collecting the poop it is time to bake it. The first step is to spread the poop out on a piece of aluminum so you can remove any seeds, sand our other foreign matter. Next you put it in a small oven and bake it at 100 degrees Celsius for between two and three hours. The final step is to take it out and put a bit of frosting on it with some sprinkles. Okay, the last part isn’t true. Actually, the dried fecal samples are stored and then taken to the States to be analyzed.
After the morning monkey watching we spent the afternoon visiting the nearby town of Malindi. We had lunch and then time to walk around the town see the local sites.
Today (Sunday) we are doing a full day of monkey observation. It was definitely warmer today than it has been. It was about 35 degrees Celsius and humid in the forest. Yesterday it took 2 hours to find the monkeys and today the monkeys were in sight as soon as we arrived in Gede. I am starting to be able to recognize the eleven different females in our group more quickly. Today we were able to do at least a half hour on nine of the eleven female monkeys.
I apologize to my afternoon classes that I haven’t called you yet. I keep trying to stay awake long enough to call the classes but I keep falling asleep. I will keep trying to keep myself awake long enough to call this week.
Question of the day: What are ways to tell the difference between old world and new world monkeys?