Lina - Working with local people
There is no successful field season if you work alone. And there is no fun, worthwhile and amazing field season if you don’t interact with and learn from the people with whom you are living with. And I don’t mean your fellow field assistants and colleagues. I mean all the amazing local people who live at your sites. They are a key component of being in the field, not only because you are working in their hometown or staying at their place or eating their food, but simply because they have acquired an astonishing knowledge of the environment that surrounds them and which you are studying and trying to figure out.
They comprehend your study system in a way no graduate degree or long-term research project can succeed. Why? Because they possess an immense knowledge of their environments based on centuries of living close to nature.
In my case, they always were one step ahead of me, regardless of all the fancy technology I used. They always knew where the monkeys were and what they ate, they know how primates they responded to environmental changes and were empirical ecologists. I was constantly amazed by their deep understanding of the ecology and behavior of primates and even felt stupid at times when I realized it had taken me a couple of years to learn what for them was so obvious.
My field work experiences would have not been the same or as successful if it wasn’t for all the support, love and friendships I made with the local community. Thanks to them I am a better researcher, conservationist and human being. I now see the forest, the monkeys and conservation through a different lens.