Monkey Forest Tales: Thinking about my beginnings and why I still enjoy studying primates

Over the past weeks while giving a field course, I have found myself thinking again why I still enjoy so much studying primates. In today’s post we revisit together some of those thoughts and impression that still motivates me after 27 years from my first time in a forest looking at wild monkeys.

Teaching had a particular way of make you evaluate the good’s and bad’s of research life. Not only because is challenging to explain to others the concepts and theory behind what you do in the field but also because it can show you the things you don’t enjoy at the same time it shows you what you love.

Most of my professional and academic life had been in the field with few periods of time teaching at classrooms or more commonly in the field. Teaching in the field is what I prefer, for me it give the most rewards when you see a student develop their own research project and present their results. You saw them grow as researchers but also as persons.

However, it is when I’m alone in the forest looking for monkeys or just observing their behavior when I felt the happiest and luckiest person in the world. It is at those moments that I found my motivation to continue doing research, finding time to teach and searching for options to make my research and action more valuable for monkeys’ conservation.  

I had forgotten how many times I asked myself why I still do research with monkeys and why I go too far places to see them and study them. Maybe the answer is still the same I once told my grandmother when preparing to go to the forest for my second trip to Tinigua National Park, because I love them and want to spend my life helping them to survive.

Sometimes that last part of help them to survive seems too far, however it is the example of others smarter and more successful than me that give me the energy to continue. But most importantly are all those small moments I share with wild primates what give me the motivation to continue. It is on those quiet moments where it seems that they completely accept me in their groups that I found the strength to continue with the life I choose…

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