Animals & Wildlife Magazine

A Month in the Life of a Short Term Primate and Predator Assistant

By Iratemonkey @_sam_williams_

Upon arriving at the Primate & Predator Project a little over a month ago, I have experienced a welcome and encouraging environment, provided through the excellent tutelage of project managers, PPP staff, researchers and other interns alike. A wealth of knowledge is available to anyone willing to venture out and experience working life in the bush; this project offers positions to aspiring students keen on working with wild populations, contributing to international conservation efforts. Leopard, baboon, samango and vervet monkey, crowned eagle, honey badger, galago, and aardvark are just some of the charismatic species here at Lajuma.

Bush Camp is situated high in the Soutpansberg mountains and days are full and bursting with things to do. As a primate assistant; following Samango monkeys is a vital part of the work, 'follows' consist of shadowing habituated groups from dawn until dusk, scan sampling behaviours and observing individuals, providing data for long term research. Spending significant lengths of time with the animals creates a bond and closeness to wild primates, that is undoubtedly unique. An exclusive biome with endemic flora and fauna, secluded along a montane mist belt forest, offers an exceptional opportunity to study primates, predators and much more.

As a new addition to the project, I have much to learn, that being said; my time has been carefully conducted providing a plethora of experiences thus far. How does a week look for me? Starting Tuesday, my week begins with three follow days, followed by two utilised to office work, vegetation sampling, predator hikes, phenology and other miscellaneous tasks. Evenings and weekends (Sunday-Monday) are dedicated to socialising with like minded people allowing for rest and relaxation; with the opportunity to explore hiking trails, waterfalls, wildlife and the incredible vista views. Biweekly trips to town are provided, where you can find "home" equivalents along with anything else you may need.

The PPP is a unique place with a distinctive atmosphere, time here is therapeutically calm and moves at a gentle pace, underpinned by a shared comradery toward a united goal. If you're open to new experiences, are willing to work hard, and be versatile, this is a superb chance to see South Africa at its finest. I thoroughly recommend the Primate & Predator project to any hopeful volunteers keen to gain real-world experience, at an endemic location, irreplaceable to an already special country.

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