Monkey Forest Tales: Back in the field: how it is working at night?

Today’s post I’m going to explore a question a colleague makes to me a few days before I went to the field, ¿Are you scare when you work at night? But first, let’s explain why sometimes we have to work at night.

As you have notice from this website, at the study area there is nocturnal species, Brumback’s night monkey, a small size monkey who make all its activities during the night. They sleep during the day in hollow trees or very high trees cover with lots of lianas and vines and they search for food and move around during the night.

To be able to know how they live, how many they are and in which forest fragments we can find them, sometimes we need to go out at night and search for them. Although we have not been so successful as in other places to follow them at night, we have been able to count them and find out some of the forest fragments in which they live in the study area.

My first nocturnal monkey counts weren’t in the study area, they were in the Amazon, in large areas of continuous forest, where there is also big wild cat such as cougars and jaguars around at night. So, in those days, specially at the beginning yes, I usually was scare while doing my work at night. I was always with an indigenous who knows the forest a lot and who was good at recognizing many animal sounds and smells.

At night, you can rely on your vision as much as you do during the day so you learn to recognize the sounds of nocturnal animals, and sometimes the sounds of some diurnal animals that you encounter sleeping during night walks. For example, during this last fieldwork we were working in one of the fragments in the study area, one that I never walked before at night, and we found a small group of coatis sleeping in a high tree, near to the stream. I had never encounter them at night before and never paid attention to the noises they do, so at the beginning it was difficult to know what they were, we just saw small bright green eyes, until we can use our binoculars and see their long nose and fluffy banded tail.

At the study area, usually is not that scary to work at night as it was in the Amazon, because the forest are smaller and I have walk them for so many years I can recognize parts of some of those forest fragments even with poor light. My main concern in the study area is to meet a person during night work, that is why we usually do night work only in farms where we make sure the landowners and farm workers know that we are there.

We sometimes found snakes that usually leave you a bit shaken, but don’t attack you. In the bigger forest fragments in the area sometimes we hear or found tracks of jaguar or cougar but never met them face to face. Not in this area, although I met the in the Amazon and in Macarena (a bit southern from the study area)…

So, the answer to my colleague’s question is yes and no, depending on where I’m working at night…

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