Collection Trip #1

Phew, just got back from a week of trapping out in a nearby-ish (about 3 hours away) Maasai settlement, Koija.  It was a long week, and a lot of packing- Mtoto might need a check-up after the beating it went through carrying all of my equipment…


Mtoto, carrying a bit more than it was made to carry.

Thankfully, the car made it out to the field, carrying all of my supplies (I took out all of the processing supplies, my behavioral testing supplies, rodent cages- the plastic things hanging off the side of the car, camping stuff for my RA and me, and a big canvas tent that I was using as a mobile lab- since I couldn’t bring rodents back to the research property where I’m working).  Anyway- SPOILER ALERT- that ended with a busted tire and some other much needed repairs from carrying way too much stuff.  It was a hassle, but it proved enough to convince me that maybe my “mobile” lab might not be quite as mobile as I thought…


My "mobile" lab

Anyway, Koija was a good exercise in finding out just how much work I could cram into a week in the field (and in how much weight I could load into my car).  Lesson learned: a.) everything takes longer than you expect it to take, and b.) working from 6am to midnight everyday is no way to run a sustainable research project. I’m now going to be partitioning my work into field collection/processing days, and behavior/diet processing days (or, more aptly, nights, since pretty much all of these animals are nocturnal).  Hopefully, this will help to keep both me, and my research assistant, in high spirits and energetic enough to finish each set of collections.

Finally, while we were out at Koija, the rainy season officially took off in full-swing:


This is good for two reasons.  First, my samples taken during the first “rainy” season will actually be taken while it is raining.  But secondly, and more importantly, the rains mark an end to a very long drought that the region has been experiencing; this means more growth for crops and more food for livestock, but also, perhaps, more food for rodents.

Til next time,