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Book details
  • SubGenre:Environmentalists & Naturalists
  • Language:English
  • Pages:604
  • Format:Paperback
  • Paperback ISBN:9781667805955

I Remember Africa: A Field Biologist's Half-Century Perspective

by Thomas Struhsaker

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I Remember Africa is a memoir based on the author's wildlife research and conservation efforts in Africa spanning 56 years (1962-2018). It describes some of the challenges scientists and conservationists faced in the early days of field research on primates and other wildlife in Africa. The stories range from the savannas of East Africa to the rain forests of Central and West Africa. The Kibale Forest in Uganda was the author's home for 18 years (1970-1988) during the reign of vicious dictatorships, genocides, civil wars, and economic collapse. The author describes how he, his colleagues, and students managed to continue with their research and conservation efforts in Uganda, despite these adversities. Their efforts, along with many others, eventually led to the creation of The Makerere University Biological Field Station and The Kibale National Park. The stories relate humorous and uplifting experiences, set in the context of very dark times. The author also describes the behavior of the primates and other creatures he shared the forest with. This memoir tracks some of the many changes that have transpired in Africa over the past half-century. (604 pages with 110 photographs)
As many African countries were gaining independence in the early 1960s, graduate student Thomas Struhsaker set off for Uganda in search of a field site to study patas monkeys. His surveys took him throughout much of Uganda, from the Sudanese border into the newly independent Republic of Congo. Among the many things he learned was that patas monkeys were elusive and difficult to see in their preferred home of tall grass. Facing reality, Struhsaker shifted his thesis research to vervet monkeys in Amboseli, Kenya, one of the earliest field studies of primate behavior and ecology in Africa. So began a loving but difficult relationship with the continent he would call home for decades. I Remember Africa is a memoir based on the author's 56 years of wildlife research and conservation efforts in Africa. It is both historical and autobiographical, describing some of the challenges scientists faced in the early days of field research on primates and other wildlife in Africa. Following his research in the Kenya savanna, Struhsaker shifted his studies and explorations to the rain forests of Cameroon, operating from remote villages and camps deep in the forest. Most of this volume is about the 18 years Struhsaker lived under rustic conditions as a full-time resident in the Kibale Forest of Uganda (1970-1988). There he created a research station, now the Makerere University Biological Field Station, and initiated the movement leading to the creation of the Kibale National Park. This was during the vicious dictatorships of Idi Amin and Milton Obote and through the early stages of Yoweri Museveni's reign. Struhsaker describes how he, his colleagues, and students managed to continue with their research and conservation efforts in Uganda, despite the opposition of some government officials, the genocides, civil wars, and economic collapse. He also describes fascinating behaviors of creatures they shared the forest with. I Remember Africa will be of interest to primatologists, tropical ecologists, conservation biologists, historians, and anyone interested in Africa and its wildlife. Includes 110 photographs.
About the author
Thomas Struhsaker began field research in Africa in 1962 with his study of the behavioral ecology of vervet monkeys in Amboseli, Kenya. Among other discoveries, he described the vervet alarm calls that distinguish between three classes of predators: mammals, birds, and snakes. Following that he conducted studies of forest primates in Cameroon and in 1969 initiated research on red colobus monkeys across tropical Africa from Senegal to Zanzibar. In 1970 he established a research station in the Kibale Forest, Uganda where he resided for 18 years. This station remains active to date, and in 1993 Kibale became a national park following 23 years of lobbying by Struhsaker and his colleagues. His biological surveys and shorter-term studies have taken him to 13 other African nations, as well as numerous countries in Latin America and Asia. In addition to Cameroon and Uganda, his efforts have focused on the red colobus and other primates of Zanzibar, Kenya's Tana River, and Tanzania's Udzungwa Mts. National Park. Struhsaker received his B.Sc. in Biological Sciences from Michigan State University and his Ph.D. in Zoology from the University of California, Berkeley. He was employed by the New York Zoological Society for 25 years and is currently an Adjunct Professor in the Department of Evolutionary Anthropology, Duke University. His publications include three books (The Red Colobus Monkey 1975, Ecology of an African Rain Forest: Logging in Kibale and the Conflict between Conservation and Exploitation 1997, and The Red Colobus Monkeys: Variation in Demography, Behavior, and Ecology of Endangered Species 2010), as well as numerous scientific and popular articles and technical reports on ecology, conservation, and animal behavior. In 2006 he was honored with the Life-Time Achievement Award from the International Primatological Society.
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