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Thursday, June 17, 2010
Today was our last day in the field and I SPOTTED A RHINO! Now I am definitely ready to go home. I had accomplished everything I wanted to on this trip. We had processed and organized all the fecal samples to bring back to the U.S. for analysis. We had trained Thando to collect samples and data. And I found a rhino.
Last year, we were in Addo for two weeks and never spotted one rhino. Well, this trip we have seen one almost every day, and I found one! We were checking a latrine for fresh feces and I heard a branch break. I looked up into the mountainside and, sure enough, there was either a rhino or a rock or a very large warthog.
We all pulled out our binoculars and yep, I was right…a rhino. It was the male that was often spotted in this area. It must be his territory. He always leaves a large scraping at the latrine. This made my day, my week, my time in Addo. It was so rewarding. We had set out to do what we needed and wanted to do. It was time to come home.
This homecoming would be different. I was bringing Jordie back with me. She is staying in Chicago for a month to process and analyze samples. And Dr. Elizabeth Freeman is coming too. So we will spend some much-needed time together working on manuscripts and planning our next steps for this project.
Rachel Santymire, Ph.D.
An endocrinologist in the Davee Center for Epidemiology and Endocrinology, Santymire studies stress and reproduction in Gombe's chipmanzees.
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