From the field!
Welcome to our "From the field" blog @ GMERC!
GMERC – or the Greater Mahale Ecosystem Research and
Conservation Project – invites you, dear reader, to have a
glimpse into our life and work, here, at the research station in
the remote Issa valley in Western Tanzania.
Numerous times friends and family ask us questions: Why are you doing this - this fieldwork? How can you cope with the isolation? How can you choose to live in a remote, basic research field-site with no flushing toilet, no running water, no reliable electricity and even more importantly – no high-speed internet?
And the answer always looks simple to us, but is a challenge to explain to others who have not experienced life in the bush. Fieldwork is more than adventure and learning about our beautiful planet and its inhabitants. There are those small moments of beauty, the dealing with solitude and frustration or the struggle to maintain a work-life balance (too much work, not enough life!), that reveals so much more about oneself than any self-help book will ever be able to. Fieldwork is a way of living, a whole worldview one might say. And it is full of setbacks and rewards that happen in the most unlikely situations.
In the following entries, we would like to share some of these moments and experiences with you from the perspectives of those on the ground. We hope that it will be an entertaining and educating journey that will make readers smile at times and wonder at others about wildlife, scientific research, and fieldwork in remote East Africa.
In our latest instalment, Seth Phillips takes us down the corridors of Macrotermes termite mounds to describe his work one of chimpanzee's favourite foods. Read about his work here!
In her final entry, Frauke describes the onset of the wet season, with vivid description of the first downpour! Read and listen here!
This most recent entry is written by Gal Badihi, visiting PhD student from the University of St. Andrews. Read Gal's post here.
This first entry was written by Frauke Olthoff, researcher and the camp manager ('20-'21) with a 11 month tenure at the time of writing. Frauke's post describes an incredible encounter from August 2021, which was one of the most stunning experiences of her time at Issa. Read Frauke's post here.