Sunday, August 6, 2017

First Week in the Mara


My name is Leah, I graduated from Michigan State University this past May. While there I studied Animal Science with a concentration in companion and exotic animal biology. While I have always loved animals, I developed an interest in animal behavior volunteering in the hyena lab my junior and senior years at MSU. While this merely entailed pulling behaviors from field notes on lion-hyena interactions, I found the process interesting. I got my first experience with the entire research project while on BEAM, the Behavioral Ecology of African Mammals study abroad to Kenya in 2015, and there decided that I definitely wanted to focus my future career on behavioral research. I completed an independent research project this past spring comparing male and female hyena participation in lion-hyena interactions. Not only did I learn more about the research process, but I also learned that female hyenas are some tough cookies! They participate in the majority of interactions, and in a specific behavior called “mobbing” where hyenas will band together and rush their opponent (in this case lions).

Since I have been here just over a week, Ill share some highs and lows of my initial exposure to fieldwork. My biggest high so far (there have been LOTS to choose from already) was when we darted Legend. We dart hyenas to take more specific measurements than we ever could just watching them as well as taking blood samples for analysis. While this is an incredibly serious task and is not to be taken lightly, it was still fun and I learned a lot. My low was definitely a den session from a few days ago, where one adult hyena brought a carcass that had most likely been in the sun, and smelled absolutely terrible-but when your job is watching hyenas, that’s just something you’ve got to learn to deal with.

I can’t wait to see what the rest of this year brings!


Tanzir Rahman said...

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Anna McTigue said...

Love the blog! Nice to hear your thoughts. The other posts and pictures are fascinating too!

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