As part of the project, we need to collect urine samples. Despite the laughter of friends when I am telling them that a part of the work is to collect urine from wild monkeys, collecting urine samples is hard-work!
First you never know when the monkey that you are following is going to urinate. You have a list of monkeys that you must collect the urine from every day. So there are two different strategies to get it. Either you follow one monkey for hours until the monkey urinates or you look around the group and try to catch a monkey at the right time! To be honest, I still do not know what the best strategy is!
Secondly, when the monkey urinates, how can we collect it? There are different techniques that we are currently test running and I will proudly admit with quite high success! For this I thank the team as they are becoming expert urine hunters!
The first technique is simply collecting the urine with a pipette from a rock or leaves. AsBarbarymacaques spend a lot of time on the ground and usually sit on rocks, it makes the collection easier.
The second technique is more hazardous and requires skill and practice! We created revolutionary urine catching equipment made from a sieve, a stick and a plastic bag. When the monkey climbs up in a tree, we hold the stick with the sieve covered with a plastic bag under the monkey. As soon as the monkey decides to urinate, we are ready to collect it. In reality, it is harder that it sounds. In addition of the time spent waiting for the monkey to urinate holding the stick under monkey, there is a high risk that the monkey decides to urinate on you (on purpose or not)! That’s one of the risks of our job!
Alan proudly collecting the first sample!
For now, we have been fortunate enough to collect 44 samples in 5 weeks. Here some pictures of our best catches!!
A full tube of 1.5 ml, not bad!
We just hope that the collection continues to be this successful…