Bonobo radio: Rain, poto poto and bonobos (maybe)

23 July 2013 by Kerstin Hoppenhaus, posted in Primatology

This is last week’s exchange between the team at the Iyaka field station and Barbara Fruth at the institute in Leipzig.

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Dear Barbara,

Since tuesday, We have cut 3 more transects (C17, C18, C19) and we have done 3 censuses with Mp. (C14, C15, C17). Mp. is a good worker.

The plan is to finish first the south west corner (A13 to C20), then we  will start the south east corner (D13 to F20). Local poeple says we should find Bonobos in this area (south east of Iyaka), fingers are crossed!

[...]

Some other points related to our work :

-We have some issues related to water... We had rain last sunday, and  the level of water in the Bompindji river increased for 3 days. All the  forest around as been inundated. When we tried to start the census of  C14, we had water up to the belt, and poto poto [swamps] were pretty tricky. We finally haven´t been able to make this census on the first 100m. Some bit of transects are already in or very close to rivers (C16 crosses 8 times the Bompindji river). That will be much harder during the rainy  season.

We guess this kind of field problems are common with random  transects, what is the good thing to do? What used to be done?

-We will put camera traps on saturday, maybe 3 (rte268, rte270, rte272)  or 5 (+rte214 & rte216). We have 20 cam traps, but we just have enough batteries to set 7 cam traps (without spare to change in the field). Do you know what would be the minimum length of time to use them on a  specific spot?

-GPS Maps are very heavy (6MO just for Iyaka). The pactor won´t  appreciate. Do you need it now or is it better to send it to you through P. (on a compact disk) on end of August?

-We will use a new habitat : Bocao. This is a kind of palm, often growing around swamps. There are big patches, comparable to Marantace patches.

-For the "riverine" vegetation, does it includes all the swampy forest  around rivers? Does it need to be permanently inundated or only in the  rainy season?

We will give a USB stick to Lui Kotale in order to read your reply  before our next email. Porters should bring it back to Iyaka on Monday  morning or in Thursday morning. [...] We will try next friday to send you our first datas of Iyaka. Hopefully  we ll be able to compress them enough.We will also send you our shopping  list for Kin[shasa].

Many thanks, Have a good week end,
Best,
Matthis and Rodolphe.

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Here is Barbara's reply:

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Dear Matthis and Rodolphe,

thank you for your informative and detailed letter [...]. I very much appreciate your effort.  I'll answer in-between your lines, shortening your sentences to economize transfer-size:

> -3 more transects (C17, C18, C19) and 3 censuses with Mp. (C14, C15,  > C17). this is great news!! [...]

> Some other points related to our work: We have some issues related to water...
I am aware that all these transects close to Lokoro and Bompindji are problematic. Ideally you'd have cut transects in the dryer area and in case of such heavy inundations you just do other transects (e.g. Savannah) these days. I think you should try to finish all transects  close to running water before end of August as September is usually wetter than August ...

> -We will put camera traps on saturday...
If you need more batteries please let me know type and number. We'll  send a parcel next week to be brought in begin of August with E. - the new Camp and Research-Administrator.

> Do you know what would be the minimum length of time to use them on a specific spot?
I'd say for our purpose minimum 1 month as we have to keep samples comparable. If it's easier for you to return to a specific spot, more  would be also fine - but again - for consistency it would be great to have comparable time-length and ideally comparable sample sizes for  specific habitat types.

> -GPS Maps are very heavy (6MO just for Iyaka).
Please send out the data with P. who is said to leave with the August-flight [...]. Please give him all electronic data  you have and - if you wish - one copy of all check-sheets (as he is  going to Germany the transfer to us is easy). If you wish to keep them  because you have not yet copied originals, ok as well.

> -We will use a new habitat : Bocao. Yes, great!

> -For the "riverine" vegetation, does it include all the swampy forest around rivers? Does it need to be permanently inundated or only in the rainy season?
I realize here I have an omission - and a discrepancy between table and  text (Ilumbe 2004). We usually distinguish between permanently inundated (forêt permanement  inondée = marécageuse) and "seasonally inundated" (forêt temporairement  inondée = inondable). If you feel safe making this distinction (it's always easier to do so in the dry season), fine - just call the  temporarily inondated one e.g. FI [...]

> We will try next friday to send you our first datas of Iyaka. Hopefully we ll be able to compress them enough. We will also send you our shopping list for Kin.
Ok, this is good. If the data won't pass I can now wait for Paul to bring t back. However I need your lists with all wishes as I have to  send a list to Mme H. latest Wednesday 23rd morning. [...]
Many thanks to you & all the best
Barbara

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All dispatches of Matthis and Rodolphe and some background information about their work can be found here.

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