By Erica Charnock (volunteer research assistant)
It’s pretty impossible to say what a day following a group of sakis is like because each day is completely different; however, a guide can be useful.
When following sakis DO:
Make sure that what you’re looking at is actually a saki: termite mounds and knots in trees can be deceiving. Binoculars come in handy for that.
- Keep your eyes on the monkeys as often as possible. They could be sitting motionless for five minutes but chances are that as soon as you take your eyes off of them, they will have moved away silently.
- Watch out for falling objects. It could be poop or discarded fruit, either way it’s unpleasant when it lands on you from 30m up.
- Always bring a camera. You never know what other animals will show up or when the sakis will decide to become photogenic.
- Watch out for spikey things. Ferns, palms, vines, and trees all have potentially lethal spikes and are all found in saki home ranges.
- Come prepared. Rain can come in without notice, batteries die quickly, pens get lost, etc.
When following sakis DO NOT:
Confuse other monkeys for the sakis that you’re following. It’s easy to start following a movement in the canopy or a crash on a branch but when you finally realize it’s a capuchin or tamarin or even just falling leaves, your saki will be far away.
- Worry about falling/sliding down the cliff-side. If they’re going down to the palm swamp, so are you. Falling on your butt is the fastest way down and there is no shame in that!
- Forget snacks. Following sakis takes a lot of energy so you’ll need to replenish. Watching sakis feed for hours at a time can also make you hungry. Vanilla Dia’s somehow taste better out in the field while following sakis than when you eat them in the comedor.
A day of following sakis will always be an adventure. It can be extremely fun but also difficult. My best advice would be to always remind yourself that you’re in the Amazon and exceptionally lucky to get to see what you see and do what you do.