I spent a summer working with Mini and Gideon, and in that time I learned things that sitting in a classroom never could have taught me. They provided the perfect balance of supervision and independence, taught me excellent field skills, and embodied the meaning of “creative”.
I applied because I wanted improve my experience in tropical rainforests, especially techniques related to different topics, like birds, climbing, telemetry, orientation, etc. I was expecting an intense and significant experience, and that was exactly what I found in the course: very diversified, fun, didactic and unforgettable in every sense.
Deirdre was one of our earliest research assistants, back when the wildlife handling and behavior programs were melded into one. When she joined us in 2010, she participated both in the capture and release program, as well as the full-day follows of the tagged tamarins that the capture program produced. We were immensely busy developing new protocols and getting accustomed to the forest.
Absolutely everything was brand new – as a result of which, she witnessed us at our most vulnerable, taking baby steps, falling down a lot, and experiencing a whole host of “firsts”.
After several months with us in the rainforest, Dee headed back to become a veterinary technician, all the while working hard towards a graduate program. We were terribly proud but not surprised when she got into Cornell University’s College of Veterinary Medicine.
Life has been very full since then, but Dee has still kept in touch and managed to find the time to do a few other internships as she nears the end of her program.
I will be headed to Botswana this summer to conduct a study on the domestic dogs there. They are free-ranging semi-owned animals that live on the perimeter of Chobe National Park, home to one of the world’s last populations of African wild dogs. There has been some recent concern that the domestic dogs are coming into contact with the wild canids and transmitting various viral and parasitic diseases, endangering an already fragile population of wild animals. I will be conducting a tracking study to better understand the ranges and movements of domestic dogs, the basics of which I learned from my summer with Primates Peru! I will be combining this tracking information with data we get from disease surveillance efforts to shed light on potential areas of interaction between domestic and wild canids, and to identify pathogens of major concern in potential transmission events. This information will help the organizations I am working with devise better conservation and management practices for the endangered African wild dogs.
The domestic dogs of Chobe National Park couldn’t have a better caregiver in Deirdre as the National Park negotiates the delicate balance between feral and domestic populations of the same species living in such close proximity. Unexpectedly, her radio telemetry training on little arboreal monkeys will now assist her in this unique venture!
We wish her the very best in the future.
(And yes, Dee, the second you are done with school, you’re going to be our go-to person for any pet-related issues. Possibly the go-to person for most of the PrimatesPeru alumni. Don’t worry, we know you can handle it!)