High Capacity! Cheek pouch storage in Sanje Mangabey

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Videos from the field / Videos del bosque

Enjoy some videos of the life of a mangabey!

!Esperamos que os gusten estos videos sobre la vida diaria de los mangabeys!

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Bado amamantando a su cría.

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Acicalando al macho dominante

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Hora punta en la montaña.

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A éste juvenil de Sanje mangabey aún le falta aprender a compartir…

Asante Celebration at Msalise

Friday, July 30th was the Asante Sana (Thank You) celebration at Msalise Primary School for the donation of the solar panels, computer, printer and projector. The students and teachers prepared small presentations for David and I and asked us to convey their thanks to all of you that helped to bring this incredible gift to their school.

In addition to speeches from the Head Teacher, Assistant Head Teacher and the Village Chairman, the students entertained us with songs written especially for the occasion, including a rap! We were very honoured to have a personalized song written for Mr. and Mama Mrs. Davidi. It was a fantastic day and we were so happy to share it with many people from Msalise village, in addition to the students and teachers. Thank you again to everyone who helped us successfully complete this project.

Here are some photos from the celebration.

The school gives Mwalimu Churi fabric for a new suit for all his hard work

The school gives Mwalimu Churi fabric for a new suit for all his hard work

The head teacher and his wife presented us with a handwoven mat

The head teacher and his wife presented us with a handwoven mat

The school presented Grainne with a kanga for her and her mum back in Canada

The school presented Grainne with a kanga for her and her mum back in Canada

The kitanga is a traditional cloth worn by women

The kitanga is a traditional cloth worn by women

The school gives David a shirt in thanks and one for Grainne's dad also

The school gives David a shirt in thanks and one for Grainne's dad also

The head teacher gives a small speech

The head teacher gives a small speech

Students from Standard 3 and 4 entertain us with a traditional dance

Students from Standard 3 and 4 entertain us with a traditional dance

Girls from Standard 6 perform the Mr and Mama Mrs Davidi song

Girls from Standard 6 perform the Mr and Mama Mrs Davidi song

All the students gathered for the presentation

All the students gathered for the presentation

Mwalimu Churi and Grainne inspect the solar panels on top of the library

Mwalimu Churi and Grainne inspect the solar panels on top of the library

News from Msalise

We are very happy to report that the new solar panels at Msalise Primary School are working well! David and I visited the school on Tuesday to deliver the next surprise – a computer, printer and projector! Mwalimu Churi and the other teachers were speechless. We also delivered some soccer balls donated by friends and family from Canada.

Some of the best news is that the school has already earned 600 shillings (about 50 cents) from the first day of the small cell phone charging business they have started! We advised them to set a limit of 5 cell phones per day so that it doesn’t drain all the power from the batteries. They have also hired an askari (night watchman) so the panels have created an employment opportunity in the village. Isn’t it amazing what one small gesture can do?!

They are now talking about hiring a secretary to operate the computer and then they can charge a small fee if anyone in the village needs letters typed and printed. And we recommended that they also charge a small fee if groups from the area want to hold meetings in the school at night and use the lights in a classroom. Then they can earn money to make small repairs or buy supplies for the school. They are also petitioning the village council to put in strong metal doors on the library to protect the computer and the solar power system which is housed in there. It is so exciting!!

David, Ala (the woman who teaches conservation education at the Udzungwa Ecological Monitoring Centre where we live) and I went to other primary schools Wednesday morning to distribute the soccer balls donated by Kristi Wowryk and Jackie Ross, from Calgary, Canada.  The students and teachers were very happy and excited. At Mang’ula A Primary School they called out all the students from class and they sang us the school song after a small presentation. Imagine so much excitement for one ball and a pump – unbelievable.  Thanks so much for the donation!

Friday is the big Asante celebration at Msalise for the solar panels.  The students have already been practicing songs and dances. We also asked them to set up a short football game between the standard 6 and standard 7 students to use the new ball!


One of the soccer balls donated on behalf of Jackie Ross of Calgary, Canada.


The head teacher at Mang’ula A Primary School tells the students about the gift of the soccer ball.


The teachers of Mang’ula A Primary School with David and Grainne and the coach of the school’s football team (front row next to David).


Kindergarten and Standard One students learn about the new soccer ball.


Mwalimu Churi overwhelmed by the news of the new computer.


The village chairman and teachers from Msalise (along with some curious villagers) gather to see Mwalimu Churi practicing on the computer.

More pictures tomorrow after the solar panel celebration at Msalise!

– Grainne

Let there be light!

At 6:30 pm last night we officially turned on the lights at Msalise! It was followed by a loud cheer from the watching crowd. Click on the photos to see a larger view.

The Solar Power Installation Project has begun!

A very special thank you to all the people who so generously donated their time and money to help us install solar panels on Msalise Primary School. This week the installation has begun. We will be posting throughout the week to keep you apprised of the progress!

Special thank you to the Grainne’s family and friends, especially Ann, Richard, Roisin, Kristi, Fiona and Shannon, who put so much effort into organizing events in Calgary to raise funds.

Here are some first shots of the work in progress!



Students learn about the project and are very excited!


Technicians begin the wiring and installing the inverter.



Everyone wants to help unload the truck!


The first day of painting the flags and our mangabey!


The Sanje Mangabey! The Tanzanian flag is still being completed.

Last trip to the forest for Grainne and David

July 1st is a bittersweet day for us as we are heading back up to Mizimu for the last two weeks of our project here in the Udzungwa Mountains. While we are very excited to be officially finishing our field work for our Ph.D.s, we are also very sad about leaving the mangabeys. We have grown very close to our monkeys and will miss having the opportunity to observe their complex social lives each day. We will especially miss Pua, the noseless but strong mother, Uvimbe our alpha female, Masai, who fell from the top but is hanging in there and of course, beloved Babu Kidole – the wise one.

We still hope to post here on the blog from time to time with interesting findings from our data and updates on the progress of Msalise Primary School and its students. We also hope to be back in Udzungwas in the near future to continue research on Sanje mangabeys, as well as other important conservation issues facing this biodiversity hotspot.

Baadaye Kidogo,

Grainne & David

Sanje mangabey male

Masai, one of our beloved male Sanje mangabeys

An Addition to the Team

The Sanje Mangabey Project would like to welcome a new member to the team. Karibu sana, Guillaume Pages!

Here are a few words from Guillaume:

And so, it is time for a change of the guards. David and Grainne are bidding their farewells to Tanzania, and it is with great excitement that I join them for their last month here; watching and learning how to navigate field research in Tanzania as if it was child’s play. My name is Guillaume Pages, I was born and raised in France in the fantastic city that is Lyon. I did most of my undergrad work in the UK, and worked for several years as a volunteer with wildlife research projects in Thailand, where I met my wife, Emily Lloyd (who will also start her research next month here in Tanzania). After which, I applied to pursue doctoral wok in the US. Fast-forward a few years and here I am. I am a colleague of Grainne at the University of Texas at San Antonio and I will start my own research sometime in September. Grainne and I share similar research interests, as we both seem to be fascinated by what monkeys put into their mouths. Part of my research is to collect data on the nutritional content of the food eaten by the Sanje mangabey, especially toxins, as well as looking at the physical barriers that the mangabeys encounter when eating (such hard shells and tough pulp). One of the many data I will collect will be the force required to open and or crush certain food items.

So far, David and Grainne have been great field mentors, and I have enjoyed my few forays in the forest. However, even they can’t control the weather, and last month was a thorough washout for me, a literal one at that, as the rains fell heavily in the Mwanihana forest. These rains had a nasty habit of starting just before we would wake up, and finish (suspiciously if you ask me) when we would get back to camp, with very little interruption in between. And so, I cursed the day the rain was born, as I was getting soaked to the marrow (that’s not just the bone we are talking about here) in the name of my PhD.

Until then,


Guillaume learning to identify the monkeys

Guillaume learning to identify the mangabeys.

Pole sana, Mama Yeyoo- Lo sentimos, Mamá Yeyoo

May 29th was both a very happy and very sad day for the Mizimu group and the research team.

We  were extremely happy to welcome a brand new baby girl for Bado. The past year has been an eventful one for Bado. She lost her previous baby in June 2009 and then disappeared from the group for a brief period before returning and conceiving this new baby – Fiesta.

The sad news is that Mama Yeyoo has lost her little girl, Versa (born March 6th, 2010). This is the second baby that Mama Yeyoo has lost. Last June, her little baby Mary died 2 weeks after birth. As we have no way of knowing Yeyoo’s age or how many offspring she has had, we cannot know for certain why her babies are not surviving, but Grainne is collecting urine and feces from Yeyoo to determine her energetic condition and parasite load – perhaps she isn’t healthy enough to be able to provide nutritious milk to her offspring. It is also possible that getting enough food at this time of year is particularly difficult for young infants and low ranking mothers, such as Yeyoo.

Mama Yeyoo missing her baby

Mama Yeyoo recently lost her baby. Pole sana!

Whatever the reason, we are all very sad for her. As one of David’s field assistants, Bakari, said: Pole sana, Mama Yeyoo.


El día 29 de mayo fue un día de celebración y tristeza  para el grupo de Mizimu y nuestro equipo.

Por un lado, estabamos muy contentos de dar la bienvenida a la nueva cría de Bado: Fiesta. El pasado año había sido desafortunado para Bado. Primero,  perdió a su cría de entonces en Junio de 2009,  para luego desaparecer por un tiempo. Afortunadamente, unas semanas más tarde regresó, y el pasado día 29 dio a luz a una nueva cría.

Por otra parte, nos entristeció enormemente el que Mamá Yeyoó perdiera a su hijita, Versa, nacida el día 6 de marzo. Este es la segunda cría que Mamá Yeyoó pierde, ya que en junio de 2009, con apenas 2 semanas, moría la cría que entonces tenía. No hay manera de saber la edad de Yeyoó, por lo que no podemos estar seguros de por qué sus crías no logran sobrevivir. Afortunadamente, Gráinne está  recolectando orina y feces de Yeyoó para determinar su condición física y la cantidad de parásitos que tiene. De este modo, una vez que tengamos las muetras analizadas, podremos saber si, por ejemplo, Yeyoó se encuentra débil y  produce leche poco nutritiva para sus crías. Por otra parte, es posible que esta época del año sea especialmente dura para los individuos más jóvenes y las madres de bajo rango, como Yeyoó.

Sea lo que sea, estamos muy tristes por Mamá Yeyóo. Como ha dicho Bakari, uno de los asistentes de David: pole sana, Mamá Yeyoó.

Epilogue to the Male Takeover-El final del macho recién llegado

It has now been five months since one of the new males, Usiku, took over our study group and there have been some big changes since then. Fataki and Mashoto have also taken up residence and our alpha male, Masai, was deposed. But Masai is officially back in the group, albeit at a much lower rank – it appears he now ranks just above old Babu Kidole.

In his new position, Masai has displayed some interesting behaviors. He spends most of his time around the infants and small juveniles. This behavior could be explained in a few different ways. It is possible that Masai prefers the company of the younger individuals as they are less aggressive to him and appreciate his grooming, as well as the use of his body as a climbing apparatus!

Lately Masai has been very busy taking care of the youngest infants and juveniles

Masai lately spends quite a bit of time taking care and grooming the youngest infants and juveniles

It is also possible that he is protecting the infants he believes he fathered. Masai was the alpha male for a number of years and there is a strong possibility that many of the infants are his. Given that we have seen evidence of possible infanticide in this group, perhaps Masai has accepted his fall from the top and embraced a new role as infant guardian. Regardless, we are happy to see him back!


Hace ya cinco meses que un nuevo macho, Usiku, llegó al grupo y tomó control. Desde entonces ha habido grandes cambios en el mismo. Para empezar, otros dos machos, Fataki y Mashoto, han inmigrado y han sido aceptados por el resto de los individuos. Además de esto, el macho alpha, Masai, ha sido destituido de tan preciada posición. Ahora, en lugar de estar al mando del grupo, se ha visto relegado a los últimos puestos, justo por encima del venerable Kidole.

Masai, ya asentado en su inferior rango, ha comenzado a mostrar nuevos e inesperados comportamientos. Por ejemplo, ahora pasa gran parte del tiempo con las crías y los juveniles más pequeños. Hay varias formas de explicar esto. Es posible que Masai prefiera la compañía de los individuos más pequeños, ya que no sólo son menos agresivos que los adulto, sino que agradecen el que Masai los acicale. Por otro lado, quizá simplemente les guste colgarse de Masai y utilizarlo como columpio!

Es también posible que Masai esté protegiendo a las crías que él considera haber engendrado: Masai mantuvo el estatus de macho alpha durante un largo tiempo, por lo que es muy posible que sea él padre de la mayoría de las crías y juveniles que ahora viven en el grupo. Durante nuestro estudio hemos observado evidencias que indicaría la existencia de infanticidio en esta especie, de modo que quizá Masai simplemente haya aceptado su caída en la jerarquía se haya resignado a su nuevo papel como guardián de las crías. Sea como sea, nos alegra mucho que aún esté con nosotros!