FIELD Experience: James Bukie

photo of James Bukie

Who are you?

Personally, I identify as (He/him/his), and a primatologist. I am married with two lovely kids.

What is your favorite field food?

In the field, my favorite field food is eba and egusi soup.

Tell us about your field work

Map of Nigeria showing the location of Afi Mountain Wildlife Sanctuary (AMWS) in Cross River State.My research involves several aspects of primatology, but has almost always revolved around population, feeding, ecology, human-primates interactions and zoonosis. My current research is on the population, feeding, and endoparasites of wild drill monkeys (Mandrillus leucophaeus), My objective is to better understand the ecology of these endangered primates by focusing on their roles as hosts for the many parasite species that infect them.

The field site is Afi Mountain Wildlife Sanctuary in Cross River State, Nigeria. What I love about AMWS is that it is one of African Biodiversity Hot spots, and is one of the remaining natural habitats for the critically endangered Cross River gorillas, the Nigeria-Cameroon chimpanzees, the drill monkeys as well as other endemic and endangered animal and plant species. It harbors the largest roosting site for the migrating European barn swallows.

The challenges with the research site and the plants and animals in it are the menacing issues of illegal farms encroachment, illegal logging and illegal hunting.

One of the scary experiences I had was during the laying of sample plots in 2020. Because of the rugged terrain and the rock boulders, when we were measuring the plots, I stepped on one such small rock, only for it to pull from the ground and before you know it, I and the rock were rolling down the valley. If not for the timely intervention by my research partner, I would have sustained serious injuries or worse I would have died, because we were over 900 meters above sea level.

How does your identity interact with your field work?

Photo of an adult female drill monkey and baby
My identity at home and in the field is the same.

What identity-based challenges have you faced in the field?

I have not faced any one.

What advice might you have for someone preparing for a similar experience?

If you will need to conduct field research, be prepared mentally, physically, and financially.

How has your field experience influenced your perspective on diversity, equity, and inclusion?

My field experience has positively influenced my perspective on diversity, equity, and inclusion. Even though my field team consisted of only male members, it included individuals from different backgrounds and all are given equal opportunities. However, I am a member of ASP diversity, equity, and inclusion committee and have enjoyed the mentorship of individuals of different perspective and diversity.