In my second year at the University of Manchester I studied parasitology, and the terrifying images of dramatic lesions and extreme elephantiasis are burnt vividly into my memory. Of course, I never considered that one day I would become one of those horror stories. In July I was diagnosed with a tropical flesh-eating parasite called Leishmaniasis, and for the past 10 weeks I have been battling to regain my health. We never fully appreciate how lucky we are to be healthy, and unfortunately I learnt this lesson the hard way.
Archive for September, 2014
This year got off to a great start, with tracking backpacks being deployed on 4 wild sloths during January and February (I introduced these sloths in a previous blog: Burrito, Star, Pancake and Apple/Pie). Unfortunately, we find that far too much research focuses on achieving the largest sample size possible, yet fails to study individual animals for long enough to understand their patterns of behavior. This is particularly important for sloths as everything happens so slowly! It can take an individual up to 30 days to digest one leaf, so you can imagine how much time is needed to document the complete diet of just one sloth. For this reason, I have spent the past 8 months intensely following the 4 sloths that I tagged with backpacks at the start of this year and getting to know their individual habits. This time has also allowed me to perfect the harness design and iron out any faults with the backpack-tagging process. As a result of this, I am excited to announce that we are finally ready to expand the project and there are exciting plans for the next few months.