Greetings from TZ!
This past Tuesday, I had my first official fieldwork day in Lake Manyara National Park. It was one of many days out completing hands-on, and one of the most amazing experiences I have had in my life. Just being in the park was astounding, but being able to complete research while there was a dream come true.
The research we completed could be completed on one of two topics related to olive baboons in the park. One was looking at the prevalence of syphilis in the troops and analyzing its impact on various genders and ages. This is important because male olive baboons generally mate with numerous females and quite often, which can result in syphilis spreading dangerously fast, and can cause infertility as it worsens. The other research (which is what I chose to complete mine on) examines the behavioral patterns of the baboons, and what they generally spend their time doing, whether this be locomotion, foraging, social interaction, or other behaviors. I also looked at any associated species that have a beneficial relationship with olive baboons, and what the observed interaction between them was.
I spent two hours of my day completing my behavioral research, traveling from troop to troop and writing down observations every five minutes. After this, we had the rest of the day to observe the various species we will be learning about and potentially researching over the next three months. We drove all around the park, and I got to see both the larger land mammal in the world, as well as the tallest animal, both in the same day. Nothing can describe how beautiful all of the wild animals were, and there was a distinct difference between how they acted in the park as free animals, versus what one typically sees in a zoo. They were so free, just like how I felt in those moments getting to observe them.
I have many more days of research and completing game drives ahead of me, and who knows what else I will have to opportunity to see while in this beautiful country.
Until next time.