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A picture of Ed Wright

Ed Wright

Gorillaologist

in scientist

Who are you, and what do you do?

I'm Ed Wright and I am a biologist. I studied zoology (and French) at university. My current position is a lecturer in conservation science for Bristol Zoological Society. But you could also call me a primatologist and if you want to get really specific a gorillaologist, as I specialise in gorilla behaviour and conservation. I have been working with gorillas for over a decade now, spending a considerable amount of time in tropical Africa, in Gabon, Uganda, Rwanda and more recently Equatorial Guinea. These days I spend most of my time in the office or teaching, but I still hope to go to the field around twice a year.

What hardware do you use?

In my current position I work a lot with camera traps. They are a really neat way to monitor wildlife without actually having to be there. Unfortunately, the very wet and humid conditions of the tropics, particularly in Equatorial Guinea, don't play well with electronic equipment and the camera traps don't tend to last that long. Recently I have splashed out on more expensive RECONYX camera traps, with the hope that they will fare better.

In the past I have been interested in measuring the body size of gorillas and relating this to dominance rank and reproductive success. But how does one obtain body measurements of a wild gorilla? I used a non-commercially available laser device. Projecting two parallel lasers, separated by a known distance, at a gorilla and taking a photo using say a Nikon D800 with a decent lens, allowed me to measure liner dimensions of interest without having to get too close.

In the field, when recording behavioural data, I still like to go old-school with a notepad and pencil, but it does depend on the data being collected.

I have whatever laptop work gives me and the specs seem to be enough for what I need.

And what software?

Microsoft Office, I'm afraid. R for data manipulation and analysis (I am not a fan of RStudio, so I use an editor such as Notepad++). More recently ArcGIS Pro. AIs such as the one Wildlife Insights uses are very handy for automatically going through the camera trap images and assigning them a species. However, the AIs are still not quite there yet and the pictures need to be reviewed by a human.

I used ImageJ to measure body measurements on gorillas and now and again I also use GIMP.

Zotero for references. A mix of Teams, Skype and Zoom for meetings.

What would be your dream setup?

I don't need anything too powerful. However, something that can withstand high humidity, temperature, dust and occasionally being dropped would be good. Also, something with a crazy huge battery life. Oh, and something small and light. Ah! And something that always has high speed internet even when I am in the middle of the jungle.

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