Frightening, Disgusting or Nothing: Did Primates Evolve Cognitive and Physiological Responses to Major Natural Reservoirs of Infectious Disease?
Since March 1 2023 and for the next 6 months, I will be a Canon Foundation in Europe Research Fellow at Nagoya University with Prof. Nobuyuki Kawai. The project aims to explore whether bats and rats - as natural disease reservoirs - act as cognitive distractors (matching with disgust elicitors), enhancers (matching with fear elicitors) or none in chimpanzees and humans. More soon...
New position, new life chapter! I'm now a Postdoctoral Research Fellow at The University of Hong Kong at the Applied Behavioural Ecology and Conservation Lab led by Dr. Hannah Mumby. I'll mainly be working on the HK Wild Boar Project. Stay tuned for more!
Conserv'Session has a NEW EVENT coming up! On "Close-Proximity Pictures with Wildlife" 🤳 🦍 🐍 🦅 🐬 🦧 🦔 🐢 🐘 🦎 at the forthcoming 15th International Symposium on Primatology and Wildlife Science (PWS). Participants of the conference will be able to discuss and play games around that 🥵 topic! We are delighted to have Prof. Jo Stechell from Durham University (who recently co-authored the 'Best Practice Guidelines for Responsible Images of Non-Human Primates') with us for this event - March 1st at 6:30pm on Zoom after the conference. Awesome flyer credit: Tamao Maeda
When you receive an email on a Saturday night asking for your expertise to comment on an ‘unusual panda behavior’, you first think of a spam [no Saturday night fever anymore...] Then, you realize what got you there! Interesting behavior (-I wish camera traps existed during silk road times!) and pretty cool study. Always more to find out... #cameratrap #poop #senses #tradeoffs #cognition #behavior #silkroad #thermoregulation
Conserv'Session #30 is coming up! For this special online edition, we are teaming up again with Nerd Nite Kansai. Our nerdy speakers include: Marie Sigaud: "The anaconda in the living room: What’s wrong with the exotic pet trade?" ; Yena Kim: "How to study animal cognition?" ; and Carla Sebastian: “Are humans selfish or cooperative in the face of a pandemic?”. Details here. Be there or be square! Kick ass poster credit: Tamao Maeda
A film that will make you forget for a while the war and talibans in Afghanistan.
Next June, I’m embarking on a journey to the Wakhan in Afghanistan with two amazing women, Émilie and Claire, for a documentary project aiming to change the perception of that country. Incredible landscapes, moderate religion, iconic wildlife, and incomparable hospitality -this is Afghanistan. We have launched a crowdfunding campaign to buy the last visual and sound equipment needed and we need… YOU! All the material bought with your donations will be bequeathed to Reza Visual Academy/Les Ateliers Reza, which accompanies children in refugee camps to express themselves through photography and film. And if we exceed our goal, we will give the surplus to the NGO Afghanistan Libre, which accompanies Afghan girls and women to find their place in the reconstruction of Afghanistan. D-19!!!
Thanks to all of you who could sign it! #anyhopefornature
In a letter released yesterday, 346 conservationists and scholars from 70 countries assert that the imprisoned Iranian environmentalists “worked and carried themselves with the highest moral integrity” and call for a “fair and just evaluation of the evidence, access to lawyers of their choice, and a transparent trial.” In the letter addressed to Iran’s supreme leader, Ali Khamenei, the authors, including primatologist and United Nations Messenger of Peace Jane Goodall, “strongly condemn” the possibility that “the neutral field of conservation could ever be used to pursue political objectives,” and they declare that they “are convinced our colleagues had no such part.”
Link to Science article
Proud of our new logo designed in collaboration with Elodie Thomas! Meaning: the roots remind us of a connected past, while the tips of the branches promise a divergent future. The twisted trunk also expresses the importance of genetics shaping the future of our evolution, as well as the field of Primatology, with a resemblance to DNA supercoiling. The tree is a nod to the Kyoto University logo and symbol, the kusunoki tree that sits out front Kyoto University's Clock Tower. The dots (nodes) and dashed lines (connections), taken from social network analytics, reflect the interdisciplinarity we can find in the field of Primatology and at the Primate Research Institute. The two profiles, generic primate on one side and human on the other, are there to remind us how the study of non-human primates contributes to a better understanding of ourselves.
And… we are back to a very different kind of jungle, made of concrete and full of human primates [-weird…] aka Tokyo (and now to the more peaceful Inuyama)! So, of course, everyone is asking: “How was Wamba?!” and it’s hard to describe the Experience in a few words only, but let me try here. Wamba is an incredible place, in every sense of the word. Incredible because as human beings, we get to observe some of our last closest living relatives in their remaining natural environment and incredible also because we often witness surrealist situations (-the station is located in the middle of the village) linked to History and its socio-politico-cultural context. At least, that is how I perceived it during our stay but previous and future visitors/researchers may have a different perspective. Note that if you have been to Wamba, you have not been forgotten there! I think I have heard of ALL of you during my stay ;)
In random order, I will miss:
- Hot baked bread from Pasteur Aaron (who wants to develop a bakery project at Wamba!)
- The bucket of hot water under the stars after 14hours in the forest
- The “no teeth no underwear” (i.e. kids, not old people) waving and shaking hands on the way back from the forest
- The smiles, the laughter (particularly the one from Isolumbo aka “Vieux Calvin”), the colors, the fresh air
- Pigs, goats, chicken and other house-/toilet-/shower-mates
- The staff (Embele, Cedric, Batandanga, Lokemba, Bafaluka, Bafutsa, Bambambe and others -even Besao)
- The outdoor life
- The songs at the church and Cedric’s playlist (including Fally)
- The “appeased despite all” face of the old mamas
- Avocados, forest mushrooms, sese (fizzy palm wine), “Lion King” worms, and fried bananas
- The deep sleep
- And last but never least the bonobos…
Things I will not miss but I may soon start to miss:
- The daily 4am protestant church (our neighbors) drums
- Waking up with a boost of adrenaline caused by a 5am morning run in the forest to avoid thousands of army ants using the same path as us
- The “Ave Maria”, “Everywhere I go there is Jesus” and other songs
- The daily 7pm staff meeting
Will definitely not miss:
- Belo, bombo, yuku (at first mispronounced “kuyu” or [couillu]…) and other nasty flies
- Gun shots in the forest
- Giardiasis, malaria and other symptoms
- Coffee seasoned with flies and/or gecko poops
- Some corrupted officials
Humans of Wamba #2. Lokemba, 26, Ornella (his wife), 22, and their two sons: Bertholin (4) and Chico (1). Lokemba is the youngest worker of the Wamba Committee for Bonobo Research (WCBR). Like his father (Batsindelia –now retired), Lokemba aspires to become a bonobo tracker and follows the oldest habituated group of wild bonobos in the world: Kamekake (also known as E1 after civil war). While Lokemba is in the forest, Ornella teaches at the primary school in Yayenge –one of the six localities of Wamba. Before joining WCBR, Lokemba was a secondary school teacher. He met Ornella in 2013 while they were both studying Pedagogy (at different class levels) in a locality between their two natal villages. Then, one year, one goat, one “pagne” (traditional tissue used as a dress), three pots and 15,000 FC later, he got to marry her. When on the way back from the forest, I asked Lokemba how does he see their future, he said that they may have one or two more children, no more (–rare for here; they were laughing when I told them that a family with 3 kids in France is considered as “a big family”) and aim to evolve professionally as an established teacher (only after one or two decades of work, teachers can get a salary from the government) and a bonobo tracker.