A wild mongoose chase

It’s been around 6 months, almost to the day, since I presented the results of my Master’s project to my lecturers and peers. It was anti-climactic, especially with work looming over me only a few hours later, which left me with plenty of time to not drink and enjoy my freedom, but to consider the vast expanse of time stretching in front of me still yet to be filled and the consequent futility of my degree. I had toyed with the idea of further study, but decided that that would be yet another attempt to avoid LPU (life post-uni). My moral-compass wasn’t set so high that this conclusion completely put me off another Master’s, but the thought of one more year of labouring over my laptop quickly put that idea to rest. The previous summer, I had spent 3 months as a Research Assistant at the Limpopo Dwarf Mongoose Project, South Africa (I know you’re all desperately trying to place what on Earth a dwarf mongoose is, so I’ve supplied a photo especially).

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I followed them around, I took notes on their behaviour, collected data, and I couldn’t have had a better three months. I mean if it was so fun, guess I could just do it again, right? I could almost make-out a careers service adviser screaming “graduate scheme” at me. The idea of redoing the same experience does sound like a waste of time, I agree, but it can’t be if I’ve been promoted. Meet the new Project Manager.

I committed to six more months (well, now just over four) of mongoose chasing fun, but this time I’m in charge. That means making sure all the mongoose groups are seen, that their dye marks are always looking distinctly blondie, and that we’re getting all the data we need. I’m now just over one month into the job, and I’m feeling relatively calm. The research assistants are wonderful, and the mongooses have been behaving; ideal goosing conditions. I’ve also had the pleasure (and pain) of habituating a new group of gooses. Essentially, that means following around a group of completely wild animals whilst chucking food at them to desperately try and get them to like you, or at least appreciate you for the masses of mashed-up hard-boiled egg you’re supplying. It’s taken them a few weeks, but I think they’re starting to come round to the idea of having a human companion. I received an outstretched paw today from one of the pups; if that doesn’t mean we’ve reached a compromise, I don’t know what does.

There’s been some distinct changes from my usual South Africa routine; the nightly wine has become a thing of the past (probably wise considering the 4:30am starts), dreaming of mongooses is happening almost every evening, and I’ve made the switch from Black Label to Castle Lite (I’m not proud of it).

I finally feel properly set-up in my new/old home here on Sorabi, which means it’s more than time to start telling some of my tales. Expect more Africa anecdotes, Sorabi stories, and mongoose moments from me in the months to come.

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