Non-invasive methods will be used to collect data about troop size, sex/age rations, behaviour, and food sources by means of focal or scan ethograms, using wildlife trap cameras, digital photographs and collecting fecal samples .
The relatively recent development of non-invasive genetic analysis has allowed primatologists to better understand the population and group dynamics of wild primates, simply by the fact that it is now possible to obtain genetic information by extracting DNA from by-products such as faeces, shed hair, and urine. By using DNA analysis it is possible to identify the genetic structure of a fragmented population and levels of gene flow between units, and then assess the need for protection of the species. For this project, three different study sites have been identified.
In one of the study areas, samango monkeys have been observed on the edge of the forest foraging on the ground together with vervet monkeys
- Samangos are difficult to observe when in the high canopied forests. Researchers will begin by identifying the foraging paths of each samango group by visiting each study site once or twice a week for at least five hours at a time. Non-threatening body language is used while following troops. It is anticipated that it will take months to habituate the study samango troops to the researchers.
- Researchers will collect faeces (using rubber gloves and tweezers) in ziploc bags. Each sample will be clearly marked with collection details and observations relevant to the sample. Samples collected will be stored in a freezer prior to being sent for DNA testing to obtain information on population size, parentage, relatedness, sex, dispersal and population structure, and on genetic diversity and diet.
- Trail cameras are set up in key areas to determine further information on behaviour that may be relevant to the secondary objectives of the study.
- Where possible, scan and/or focal sampling will be conducted to obtain information on behaviour.
- Surveys will be conducted with residents in the areas under study.
- The initial process is likely to take at least two years and forms part of an ongoing research process.