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#DispatchesDNLee: Rain and Field Work

The views expressed are those of the author and are not necessarily those of Scientific American.


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It’s the Rainy Season now in Tanzania. I’ve been told that it should be coming to a close soon.  I clearly underestimated how wet it would be. The vegetation is so much more green and lush from before.

The roads are bumpier, rocky and fill with large gaping crevices. Streets I’ve traveled dozens of times before suddenly look and new. It’s wet and muddy everywhere this time around. I will definitely need gum boots this time around.

Confession: I am not feeling the rainy season. Even when it isn’t raining the wet and the thick vegetation are slowing me down.  I spent yesterday with two assistants trying to carve out a trapping grid. Although we were on campus, I got turned around and wasn’t quite sure where I was (in relation to where we started and where the truck was parked). It was thick and brambly and one patch of viney branches were so tall and intertwined it reminded me of that scene in Sleepy Beauty where the Prince is hacking his way into the kingdom.

At that point, I just needed out. Field site be damned. As my very amazing assistants were slashing through vegetation I spotted my pink flag tape tied to a tree about 20 yards ahead. I diverted and found my own way out of there!  Call it my hood sensibilities, but I don’t like not knowing where the exits are and how to get out of something.

Later when got back to building, I drew out a rough map of the area.

The thick woods are off limits. The guys thought it was funny.  I’m still side-eyeing that entire last 70 meters of untamed wilderness I had to go through. Despite my angst, I am glad I explored the field.  I like knowing what the conditions are and things out.

My take home message: Setting up trapping grids is better in the dry season. Now I’m hoping for the rain to let up long enough to get outside and finish the grid.

And the rain brings out the bugs. Ants (my arch Arch Nemeses) seem to be everywhere, all of the time. And termites are everywhere, too. I am not above chemical assault. Just keep your fingers crossed for me. Hoping to start trapping soon.

Badaaye

In the meantime, have you signed up for a Postcard from Tanzania? Fill out the form at this link.

DNLee About the Author: DNLee is a biologist and she studies animal behavior, mammalogy, and ecology . She uses social media, informal experiential science experiences, and draws from hip hop culture to share science with general audiences, particularly under-served groups. Follow on Twitter @DNLee5.

The views expressed are those of the author and are not necessarily those of Scientific American.





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