I landed in Costa Rica questioning if science has anything to do with where I wanna be in the next few months, let alone years. Do I really wanna be that weird nerdy kid who studies shit that no one else really cares about? Or that asshole who seems to keep getting in the way of actual conservation work being done by real warriors with his hypotheses and experimental tests and god damn p-values. I was always that loud obnoxious douchebag pounding too many beers and screaming my lungs out for the Bokke, the Lions and Chelsea (yes, in that order). So what the fuck am I doing in a room full of scientists?
One of those scientists is named Nate Sanders. This dude is most probably the Don Corleone, or at least the family consigliore, of the ant mafia. Stop laughing, this shit is real. And that’s all I’m allowed to say about that. Nate-dawg pushed me to understand the cascading effects of a single species on the rest of the ecosystem. The harlequin land crab appears to be driving evenness of plant diversity along the Costa Rican coast line. If this is true in Costa Rica, there has to be key species other than the usual elephants, rhinos, lions and leopards that are having far reaching effects on the South African ecosystems. I guess I’m gonna have to start giving shit about animals other than the majestic beasts we all love to look at while driving around Kruger, drinking breakfast beers and having a kak praat.
Another one of these “nerdy” scientists is Buck Sanford. This guy is a genius. He’s fluent in Swahili, Shona, Spanish and a variety of Native American languages I couldn’t begin to spell correctly. He taught me that human settlements from hundreds of years ago are one of the drivers of animal movement and dispersal in Kenya. As the human populations relocated to different locations on an average of 3 to 5 years, they spread vital nutrients to soils for plant growth. This has created islands of browse and graze material in an otherwise unpalatable dry season. Let that sink in for a second… If we can map the movement of traditional cultures from Southern Africa we could potentially gain a much deeper understanding of the drivers of animal movement and dispersal allowing us to make actual tangible conservation gains.
So shit, I guess I was wrong again. Not all scientists are those weird nerdy dudes or those assholes who slow down actual conservationists. Some of them can pound beers with the best of us and scream louder when Costa Rica beats Uruguay than any other gringo in that bar. And then wake up the next morning and knock science out of the park. Some of them are geniuses who know more about Africa than most Africans. Who have been inspired by a continent and all of her people and are driven to help her grow. So yeah, I’m a fucken scientist.
WHAT? Costa Rica destroyed Uruguay!
Robert “Buck” “Sanford Jr.
The Harlequin land crab
Ole Ole Ole Ole, Ticos, Ticos!
Cabo Blanco’s beach. boom.