Belated Blog #1: First Encounters with Moka Monkeys

11/13/14

We are on our break between our two censuses of the day, and so far this trail has proved promising. Up until yesterday we were marking trails, and then we had our first full day of census on the San Joaquin trail. This trail is closer to the road and seems to have fewer monkeys than some of the others, but we did see a group of erythrotis (red-eared monkeys) and pogonias (golden-crowned monkeys). Today we are surveying the Balacha Sur trail, which has been pretty exciting so far! At first we didn’t see much except for a lot of bullet cartridges and some shotgun batteries from hunters, sadly. Just as I was starting to lose energy and be very ready for lunch, we found drill poop on the ground! Our guide, Fermin, had been pointing out signs of drill activity, such as the fruit they eat or bark that was stripped from a log in the process of searching for invertebrates. Finally we found something we could actually take back as a sample!
As we continued down the last 1000 meters of the trail, we saw a polyspecific group of erythrotis and pogonias, and could clearly hear the warning calls of territorial disputes. We finally finished the trail and I ended the census on our Cybertracker, the device we use to enter our census information. Just as it was loading the final GPS coordinates, we saw a large group of nictotans (putty-nosed monkeys) at the end of the trail! We ended up putting it in as a new survey and will later add it to the first census. I have high hopes for our census on the way back, at least this last half of the trail farther away from camp. Tomorrow we are planning to mark our third and final research trail, Balacha Norte, and do a census on the way back.
The days are fairly, but unsurprisingly, walking slowly through the forest and observing your surroundings can be quite nice (even if we do have to get up at 5:30 am). It can get monotonous sometimes when we don’t see as much, but it seems like every time I’m starting to lose hope, we hear a distant “chi-choh” or “de de de,” the calls of elusive monkeys in the trees.

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