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.