The Urban Scientist

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#DispatchesDNLee: Trapping in Tanzania


Dispatches from Tanzania (art work by @Lalsox)

Dispatches from Tanzania (art work by @Lalsox)

Karibu Marafki,

Checking in with you all and answering your questions. This one I get often.

What exactly are you studying in Tanzania?

I'm trapping. Seriously, I'm studying African Giant Pouched Rats, Cricetomys gambianis in the wild to learn more about their natural history and behavioral ecology. Specifically, we (my PI and I) are interested in knowing more about the social organization and behavior of this species.

My primary research experiment is a field study using capture-mark-recapture methods to 1) quantify the number of individuals in a specific area, 2) assess their general health, development, and allometrics, and 3) determine the social organization of this species.

Despite the wide distribution of this species - throughout sub Sahara Africa, the natural history of this species is still not nailed down. For example, what's the mating system of this species? What are the dispersal patterns? What's the birth interval between litters? How long do young remain with parent(s) until dispersal? What's the home range of individuals?

None of these questions are really known and that is why I am here.

So far, things are going pretty well. My first week here, with the help of my PI and mostly the amazing (and very knowledgeable) technicians from Sokoine Agriculture University Pest Management Department, an ideal site was been identified and the trapping grid was set.

Baited trap on my grid for panyabukuu (Cricetomys)

Since my second week (and after a couple of days of pre-baiting) I've been catching pouched rats every trap night.

Here I am, baiting and setting traps at my field site.

Yes, that field is a beast! Certainly gives Beez in the Trap an entirely new meaning.


If you would like a postcard from Tanzania, be sure to complete the form at this link.

And asante sana to my donors. I appreciate your generosity.

Dada DNLee

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

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