Day 18 – Final Day of Bushmeat Shule
Today was a day of great things. Our new friends from East Africa were still very focused and passionate about every aspect of this course. We are all very happy that our hard work has been appreciated by all here at Mweka. It was wonderful to watch everyone be so involved in the manual PCR run yesterday. It was even better to find out today that we had some positive results from yesterday’s human operated polymerase chain reaction. Finding the primitive method worked today was cause for a great round of applause in the Mweka lab this AM. We think everyone realized the accomplishment.
After discussions of theoretical aspects of DNA sequencing and sequence analysis up in one of the teaching classrooms led by Megan and Zac, all groups clustered to generate regional species lists. Again everyone was very focused compiling the top bushmeat species for each region. This component of the workshop was very lively, especially with the Tanzanian representatives who generated species lists for both terrestrial and marine species.
We then had a culminating discussion on main ideas for our final report regarding our workshop. Poster paper was placed about the Serengeti Classroom with a series of questions for participants to brainstorm.. Interestingly, every classroom at Mweka is named for a different national park. After many thoughtful comments on the posters by our collaborators we had an extended discussion on the necessary items for our final report at the end of the workshop. We focused on a discussion of the next workshop, dissemination of concepts learned, and the future lab(s) in East Africa/Tanzania.
We then celebrated the end of the workshop by giving all a bushmeat identification workshop t-shirt and a copy of our Students of Consequence DVD and a thumb of key documents for our workshop. A few celebratory toasts were made and all were celebrating. The long anticipated workshop came to a close.
Mr. Kisingo, one of our workshop participants, took us down to explore the tunnels of the Chaga Chaga tribe. They were used by the Chaga Chaga during war times as a place to hide from the Maasai. The tunnels are over 400 years old and it was so amazing to see what could be constructed through hard work and determination through only the use of primitive tools. The tunnel was really warm and got increasingly smaller. Most of the group turned back a hundred meters in but Zac and Brittney continued on with Mr. Kisingo. There were lots of spiders and a few bats. On the way back to the entrance, Zac was in the lead. He saw one little bat fly in front of him, screamed like a little girl, and fell on the ground. It was a hilarious sight. We made it out of the tunnel, sweaty, but thrilled.
After our earlier closing celebration Martin from Tanzania invited us with other participants to the local container establishment across the road. This turned out to be a very warm, enthusiastic and special send off for us. Several kind toasts were made by the bushmeat fellows, along with colorful and amusing comments by our good friend Lazarus.
Zac and Brittney went to the the Kilimanjaro Christian Medical Center’s Research Laboratory to run PCR because they had a thermocycler that they allowed us to use. Their lab technician, Theonest, was incredibly helpful and stayed until 8 PM so that we could collect our samples. The kindness and generosity of the people here is amazing and we are so thankful.
After four hours of anticipation we ran gels and found that more than 70% of our samples contained DNA. It is so wonderful to know that the extraction worked and that our seminar participants can successfully complete DNA extraction.
We’re now packing up our supplies and preparing for our return trip. In the morning we will have to dry our samples to take them home. We leave Mweka around noon and we will try to stop in Moshi to do some last minute shopping. Most of us are ready to go home although I’m sure that we’ll miss the morning and afternoon tea breaks and not having to cook or clean for ourselves. Trajan and Evan, mommy misses you!