Musenze: the local net mender of Lake Nabugabo (Fishy Ugandan Tales: Episode 3)

Currently, I’m living at Lake Nabugabo, in Uganda, where I’m trying to figure out how and why mercury finds its way into fish. To be able to successfully do this, one thing I can’t go without is nets.  When we first arrived here and I found several of our nets with holes in them I wondered what we would do about this. My research supervisor looked at me smiling: “Oh, don’t worry about that, we’ll bring them over to Musenze, he’s the local net mender.”  A few days later, I met up with Musenze outside of his shop in the village. He showed me some of his finest work.

Musenze and some of his finest work
Musenze and some of his finest work


He then proceeded to lay out my nets in his yard.  Using a small hand carved wooden tool, it wasn’t long before all the holes in my nets were fixed and I was ready to head back out onto the water. These are some incredible pictures of Musenze hard at work.

Net mending tool

Two hands and feet mending nets

Two hands mending nets

Net mending

…After packing up my nets, on my way back out to the water, I stumbled into some amazing monkeys.

They were so friendly, that I couldn’t stop watching them.  Dr. Julie Teichroeb, a primatologist that is also currently living at the Lake Nabugabo field station, is interested in their behaviour. Later this week, I’ll have the chance to give this researcher a hand looking for them throughout the surrounding forest. Stay posted for pictures and stories of this adventure!

Changing Planet

Meet the Author
Since as far as I can remember I've spent my time outside attempting to understand and connect with the natural world that surrounds us. When it came time to make a career choice, this lead me toward research in ecology and conservation, topics that are of fundamental importance to me. I completed a Bachelors degree in Environmental Sciences at the University of Ottawa in 2011, during which I studied the effects anthropogenic traffic noise on birdsong; discovering the impacts human activity has on even the most unexpected aspects of animal life! I then completed a cross-Canada canoe journey in partnership with the Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society & the Ottawa Riverkeeper Alliance raising funds and awareness for watershed conservation. Between 2012 & 2014 I studied mercury contamination in African freshwater fish as part of a Masters degree in Biology at McGill University. (The stories in this blog series are from my field work in Uganda!) Following this, I spent time developing Science Faction, a podcast all about unbelievable discoveries and creating an urban beekeeping collective in Montreal, Canada, with which we teach locals about beekeeping and pollinator gardens. Today, I'm working on a PhD in the department of Natural Resource Sciences at McGill University, during which I will explore questions related to riverine ecosystem service conservation.