VOICES Ideas and Insight From Explorers
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In “High Moon Over the Amazon”, a book about the dawn of her career as one of the world’s most distinguished primatologists, Patricia Chapple Wright recounts her pioneering research to study wild nocturnal monkeys in the Peruvian Amazon. It’s a page-turner of a yarn, in which Wright recalls stumbling around in total darkness, trying to follow the owl monkeys (Aotus) moving through the trees high in the canopy above her. The story is not only about how she came to discover the secrets of the world’s only night monkeys, but also the terrors of working in the jungle, including a face-to-face encounter with a jaguar, evading a large snake dangling from branches above her, and watching helplessly as a swarm of army ants swept into her encampment’s provision stores to devour supplies meant to support the scientists for months.
Kenya’s common warthog, thought to only be active during the day, appears to have ‘swapped’ its strictly diurnal lifestyle for a nocturnal one. In the desert environment of central northern Kenya, food is scarce and there is no drinking water for several months at a time.