Dance, Biogas and Baboons

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Happy Dancers


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Traditional Dance Dress

Harvard Junior Megan Murdock is spending this summer studying traditional Rutooro dances, and teaching Kasiisi Project students western dance. Megan, who is a dancer, choreographer, and teacher with the Harvard Radcliffe Modern Dance Company, and a dancer with the Harvard Ballet Company,  received a Harvard Artist Development Fellowship to go to Uganda this summer. You can learn more about her experiences from her BLOG. Image 26Image 23





Megan who is a concentrator in Neurobiology, is also working with Grinnell student Marissa Cottrell to maximize methane production from our Biogas Digester and to study the use of the effluent for fertilizer. This project also has a side interest unrelated to energy concerns- Baboons.

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A young baboon eating squash rind filched from the compost pit. Mum is clearly already full! © David Mills

Marissa and Moses feeding the Kasiisi Digester with Kitchen waste

Marissa and Moses feeding the Kasiisi Digester with Kitchen waste

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Even Baboon Proof Containers can be  broken and raided © Marissa Cottrell

We need more gas to reduce our dependence on wood for cooking school lunches. One way to increase gas output is to add kitchen waste to the Digester, and this solution has the potential to help solve an unrelated problem for the Makerere University Biological Field Station. Field courses, students and research programs generate a lot of vegetable peelings. These get discarded in compost pits. The pits are covered but getting into them presents no challenge for strong and wily baboons, with the result that baboons, and other animals, are drawn to the Field Station to scavenge, as you can see from the camera trap photos below taken by Kibale researcher David Mills.



A cook dumps peelings into a compost pit.

A cook dumps peelings into a compost pit.



Baboons circle student accommodation at MUBFS


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Followed by a Baboon




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Genet caught in a camera trap raiding a pit at night © David Mills




The result is wild animals that are not so wild any more and that can be dangerous, as those of us who have been chased by baboons can attest. The pits also attract other wild animals as well as domestic dogs which harass and kill protected wildlife.

Dog in the park - a threatto wildlife

Dog at a pit – a threat to wildlife © David Mills




The main focus of Marissa’s work with us is to look at the extent of the MUBFS baboon problem, and to figure out the mechanics and economics of transporting  field station kitchen waste to the Kasiisi Primary School Digester. Our goal is to increase gas production and decrease kitchen waste and hope that this will result in fewer resident baboons at MUBFS.

And maybe there will be enough left over to help feed our pigs on the Kasiisi Farm.

Win, Win, Win? We hope so – watch this space for further developments!

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Happy Pigs




This entry was posted in Conservation Education, Entrepreneurial Development Project, General, Girls Support, Porridge and Farm Project, Renewable Energy, The Kasiisi Project, Uncategorized, Volunteer. Bookmark the permalink.

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