My name is Rebekah and I am a Primate research assistant at PPP.
Working with PPP so far has been life changing for me. I thought I would struggle to find an opportunity that would allow me to experience the career path that I would like to take, however working here has surpassed my expectations entirely.
Life as a Primate assistant can be a challenge, but there is nothing better than the feeling of completing a challenging week and knowing that all your hard work is going towards supporting an incredible project. The early morning starts (as early as 3:30AM!) during the summer months, can be the most difficult challenge to overcome. However, seeing the beautiful sunrise does make it worthwhile, watching the rays of sunrise splash across the canopy is mesmerizing and something I have not had the privilege of seeing anywhere else.
Day to day life of a primate assistant can consist of a multitude of activities. The main event being following a group of Samango monkeys. It really is a special opportunity to be able to follow such a habituated group and get so close to observe them. The juveniles are my absolute favourite to observe. They are always so curious and like to climb onto a nearby branch and watch what you are doing, while tilting their heads from curiosity, which makes them look even more adorable. However, be careful…..although it may not be in a published paper, they love to wee and poo on your head!! Ensure you don’t sit underneath what we call a ‘poo branch’, otherwise you will smell for the rest of the day. It is not pleasant, I can tell you from experience! Other activities can vary from vegetation plots as we study how the vegetation across the mountain can change over the course of a year to helping PhD students with their projects.
Living in bush camp is very different from living at home with the nearest shop over an hour away. Shopping for two weeks can be a challenge and you must be organised and plan ahead. Waking up and walking past a Bush baby or a Bush buck on the side of the road is something you will not experience back home and something I will never forget.
There are a multitude of activities to do at PPP during your spare time; hiking up nearby mountains, taking a trip up to the patches on top of the cliff or using your holiday time to take a trip to Cape Town. There are some very cool places to go swimming with giant waterfalls that you can climb on and sit under. One of my favourite social activities on the mountain is during the weekend or when there is a birthday to celebrate, we usually pick a theme for a party, dress up for the theme and cook a specific style food. It is a fun activity that gets everyone involved and provides a really relaxed social atmosphere for managers and assistants to get together and talk outside of working hours. It is also a great opportunity to show off your cooking skills:) Maybe even cook a meal that you might not have a chance to do within the week, whilst you are working, and to experience the food that others cook.
I have loved my time at PPP, working with primates for the first time has been so exciting with everyday bringing a new challenge and something I have not experienced before. Whether it’s spotting a new animal or discovering a new part of the mountain (when the monkeys decide to go on a bit of an adventure), it’s all new exciting experiences. I have met so many new people from all over the world who I will never forget and they will always be my bush camp family.