Category Archives: regional

Bwindi’s wild bananas

It’s one of those times of year at ITFC when everyone is busy analyzing and writing up their completed research and we chose this opportunity to talk to Frederick Ssasli about his interesting study conducted on the little known wild banana species (Ensete venticosum) in Bwindi.

The objective of his study  was to investigate the ecology of the wild banana by recording the animals that visited and utilised the plant’s fruit and flowers. Most fruiting plants in Bwindi are seasonal, however these wild bananas are special as they fruit and flower all year round, possibly providing a reliable ‘fall back’ food source for animals. Little is known about wild bananas and even less in Bwindi, so Frederick expected some exciting results.

A convenient site was chosen less than a kilometre from ITFC’s premises. Ten camera traps were set up, each on a different tree, five focusing on the flowers and the rest on the fruit. The study ran from 2011 to 2012 in the months of November to April and has just come to an end. 

Now for the results, what everyone had been waiting for! The most frequent visitors to the fruit included L’hoste monkeys, baboons, squirrels and mice which were viewed feeding on the ripe bananas, or in the L’Hoeste’s case, humorously squabbling over them (as they often do). The flowers’ visitors included some nectarivorous birds in the day and lots of bats (which are yet to be identified to the species level) and mice during the night. Even more interesting was the presence of the predatory two-tailed palm civet (Nandinia binotata) which was captured on several occasions visiting the flowers and in one case with a mouse in its mouth!

Two-spotted palm civet after catching a mouse

Two-spotted palm civet after catching a mouse

Bat on banana flower

Bat on banana flower

L’Hoest’s monkey on banana fruit

This study has set the stage for further research at Bwindi to find out more about these inter-specific relationships and to test the list of hypotheses stimulated by each camera picture. There are also some interesting implications for crop raiding. Could the conservation of wild bananas help in preventing increased crop-raiding incidents by providing an alternative food source in the low fruiting season? Could the wild banana be a new keystone species (a species which has a large effect its environment and that many species rely on)?

We hope to see some interesting papers in the near future!

On a side note this is our (Lucy and Andrew’s) last blog. We hope you enjoyed them!

squirrel on wild banana

squirrel on wild banana

The search for Bwindi’s River Otters

As we set off, through the tea plantations, past the abrupt transition to tropical forest (as is often the case around Bwindi), the heavens opened up on us with the force of a true tropical storm. We continued our wet, slippery journey down to the Ishasha river (along with numerous comical slips and disappearances down holes), in the hopes we might find what we were looking for… a picture of an otter!

Frederick looking at the impressive tree ferns

Frederick looking at the impressive tree ferns

Otters have previously been recorded in Bwindi between 1990s and 2000. A social study in 2000 by Andama Edward on the ‘Status and distribution of carnivores in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park’, identified that local people around Bwindi knew of two species of otter, the Clawless otter (Aonyx capensis) and the Spot necked otter (Lutra mavulicollis), however there has yet to be a camera trap photo to confirm this.

Frederick Ssali (ITFC’s research officer) is undertaking a study which aims to camera trap in areas not being done by ITFC’s TEAM project, investigate the ecology of Bwindi’s otters and other aquatic and semi aquatic animals, as well as open up the area to further research. The study, which started in 2001, also plans to use water quality as a factor that could influence the distribution and presence of the different species.

Setting up the camera traps

Setting up the camera traps

So far, the otter team have conducted six camera trapping sessions along the Ihihizo river at the ‘neck’ of Bwindi, but were unlucky and didn’t catch a glimpse of any otters. However, they still found an abundance of wildlife including the African Golden Cat, African Civet, Bush Tailed Porcupine and Yellow Backed Duiker. The team then changed their location to the larger Ishasha river (where we went) and have been camera trapping along its steep banks.

Camera trap picture of an African Golden Cat

Camera trap picture of an African Golden Cat


After 10 camera trapping sessions and still no sign of an otter (although an exiting glimpse of a long tailed pangolin), the team plans to move their study site somewhere closer to home (Ruhija).

Let hope that, in the future, we can report that the otters have finally been spotted!

The Ishasha river flowing through Bwindi

The Ishasha river flowing through Bwindi

Andrew & Lucy

Conservation Through Poverty Alleviation (CTPA)

This week we are introducing the Conservation Through Poverty Alleviation (CTPA) project, run by Medard Twinamatsiko (ITFC’s Social Research Leader). This three-year integrated conservation and development (ICD) project, funded by The Darwin Initiative, is run jointly by The Jane Goodall Institute (JGI), Advocates Coalition for Development and Environment (ACODE), Institute for Tropical Forest Conservation (ITFC) and the International Institute for Environment and Development (IIED), with support from Imperial College London and Cambridge University.

ICD schemes in the form of allocation of resource use in multiple-use zones are already in place in Bwindi; the CTPA project intends to build on this and support Uganda’s capacity to link biodiversity conservation and poverty alleviation through research to better understand the drivers of unsustainable resource use in protected areas that are critical to the survival of endangered species (e.g. the Mountain Gorilla, Gorilla beringei beringei, in Bwindi). This understanding will then be used to shape policies and practices so that conservation is achieved while simultaneously supporting local livelihoods. The project ultimately aims to improve ICD policy in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park and replicate the programme in other protected areas within Uganda in the future .

To gain some firsthand insights into the research phase, Andrew and I joined Medard on Monday to attend a meeting with CPI (Community Protected Area Institution) parish representatives. CPIs were developed to provide a link between communities, local governments and protected areas, and this meeting was to discuss the effectiveness of the scheme before the project was halted two years ago by UWA (Uganda Wildlife Authority).

We made our way down from Ruhija to Ikumba to meet with Gerina, Alex and Mary, three CPI representatives. After the introductions took place, the discussion slipped into Rukiga, with Medard keeping us up to speed. The CPI representatives saw the scheme as highly important for integrating communities in conservation. They shared their personal experiences as CPI representatives, how the scheme could be improved, as well as any other ideas or recommendations they had.


Medard meeting with CPIs

Medard meeting with CPIs

Later in the day we joined-up with field researchers for CPTA, who were conducting household surveys of authorised and unauthorised resource users and their neighbours to elucidate the effectiveness of multiple-use zones, and how poverty might drive illegal activity. Arrests and details of unauthorised forest users are also documented, and through GIS mapping (thanks to Andrew’s GIS skills) maps are being generated to help illustrate these activities and reveal trends in the data.

CTPA researchers off to survey households

CTPA researchers off to survey households

ITFC field researchers collecting data for CTPA project

ITFC field researchers collecting data for CTPA project


‘Anybody addressing the fate of tropical forests must confront peoples’ needs and perceptions if they are to achieve equitable and acceptable conservation and land use outcome…’(excerpt from Ghazoul and Sheil, 2011. Tropical Rainforest Ecology, Diversity and Conservation). Watch this space for updates on this exceptional project as well as more news from ITFC.


Lucy & Andrew

Bwindi Mountain gorillas at 400

The results for the fourth Bwindi Mountain gorilla census were announced yesterday by the Uganda Ministry of Tourism, Wildlife, and Antiquities and the Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA). It is now official that Bwindi is a home to 400 gorillas, close to half of the world’s population that is estimated at 880 individuals. This result has taken a staggering twenty months of intensive gorilla search, counting and genetic analysis. Pictures generously provided by Theresa Laverty, MPI-EVA research assistant.

Rukina from the Kyagurilo research group, Bwindi-Ruhija

Conducted by the Uganda Wildlife Authority, the 2011 Bwindi Mountain gorilla census was an effort of a big collaboration involving many organizations that work in Mountain gorilla conservation including; l’Institut Congolais pour la Conservation de la Nature (ICCN), the Rwanda Development Board, International Gorilla Conservation Programme, the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology (MPI-EVA), the Institute of Tropical Forest Conservation, Conservation Through Public Health, the Mountain Gorilla Veterinary Project, and the Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund International. WWF-Sweden funded the census with more support from Berggorilla & Regenwald Direkthilfe e.V., the Wildlife Conservation Society, and the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology.

Earlier today, I had a privilege to chat with the director of the Bwindi Mountain gorilla project, Dr. Martha Robbins. Ladies and gentlemen, lets hear from the horse’s mouth (the lead scientist) for the 2011 Bwindi Mountain gorilla census. Please find the details of our Q&A chat in BM and MR below:

BM: Thanks a lot Martha for allowing talking to me after a very short notice.

MR: Sure


BM: May you please tell our readers what Mountain gorillas are? What makes them different from other primates, and great apes in general?

MR: The Mountain gorillas are one of the two and four gorilla species and sub-species respectively. They have many differences compared to chimpanzees and Bonobos. Their bodies are much bigger…actually they are the biggest apes.


BM: Bwindi is a home to 400 Mountain gorillas, close to half of the World’s population. This is the highest number of gorillas ever recorded in Bwindi. Why the big difference in numbers compared to the previous census?

MR: We count gorillas using the sweep method, where teams intensively walk through the forest in a dense network of trails searching for gorillas. Analyzing for the genetic make-up (genetic analysis) of feces allows us to differentiate if the gorilla groups encountered during the sweeps are the same or different. Genetic analysis creates a genetic identification for every gorilla that we find feces from, and this helps us not to over or under count the gorillas.

One limitation of the single sweep means that we can only count or do genetic analysis on the gorillas we find. The assumption that we find all the gorillas in a single sweep is not necessarily accurate. This time around we did two sweeps, meaning that there are some groups we found only during the 1st sweep and some groups only during the 2nd sweep. Genetic analysis was later done for both sweeps. This is the only way that we can know for sure that the groups from both sweeps are the same or different.


BM: What does this result mean to the conservation world, and mountain gorilla conservation in particular.

MR: This result means several things. First of all, the Mountain gorillas are the only sub-species of the great ape where we see the population actually increasing, and that provides some hope for conservation not only for the Mountain gorillas but of other endangered great apes and other primates. The increase and the hope that this population is sustainable depends only on the continuation of extremely intensive conservation efforts both inside the park and also with the neighboring communities living outside the park, Uganda as a country and in terms of international support at all levels.


BM: Any additional remarks for our readers?

MR: Lastly I want to say that the end result from a census is one number so it may seem easy to determine, but the censuses are only possible through a very big collaboration among many organizations, involving many individuals. Some where between 80-100 people were involved in last census.  These censuses are a way to really bring together all organizations that work in Mountain gorilla conservation, and this one has resulted in some very good news about how all the efforts of all these organizations are paying off. I thank all the organizations mentioned above for their efforts that made this census a great success.

Kanywani and Twijykye of the Kyagurilo group, Bwindi-Ruhija

Best regards,

Badru Mugerwa

Where are the Endemic Bird Areas (EBAs) in Uganda?

Endemic bird areas (EBAs), defined by BirdLife International, are geographical areas home to at least two endemic bird species whose ranges (i.e with a world distribution of less than 50,000 km²) are restricted to a relatively small area. More than 70% of such species are also globally threatened with extinction. For this reason, EBAs should be high on our list of habitats to protect. Though the focus is on birds, however, the idea has great significance for the conservation of other species, and of biodiversity in general.

In 1998, the book Endemic Bird Areas of the World cemented the connection between endemic birds and biodiversity, and argued that it’s critically important to protect these areas: “At the ecosystem level, biodiversity underpins the ecological processes that are vital to human life, for example in influencing global climate patterns, in mediating the carbon cycle, in safeguarding watersheds, and in stabilizing soils to prevent desertification” (p. 13).

Birdlife International now recognizes 218 EBAs and lobbies for their conservation.

Uganda has parts of three EBAs.: the Albertine Rift Mountains (EBA 106), Eastern Zaire lowlands (EBA 107) and Kenya Mountains (EBA 109). There are 31 restricted-range species in Uganda, five of which categorized as Vulnerable: namely African Green Broadbill, Karamoja Apalis, Grauer’s Rush Wabler, Shelley’s Crimsonwing and Chapin’s Flycatcher.

The Shelleys Crimsonwing

The Shelley's Crimsonwing

The Albertine Rift mountains (classified Priority Urgent) has 36 restricted range species, 10 of which are threatened. It includes the Rwenzori Mountains (5010m ASL) and several other highlands in Southwestern Uganda (ranging between 2000 and 3500 m ASL) with wildlife protected areas namely: Bwindi Impenetrable National Park, Echuya Forest Reserve, and the national parks of the Virungas. The restricted range species include the monotypic endemic genera Pseudocalyptomena, Graueria and Hemitesia. They mostly range in montane forest, bamboo zone, highland swamps and Afro-alpine moorland.

Nectarinia stuhimanni is only known to range in the Rwenzori ranges.

Nectarinia stuhimanni is only known to range in the Rwenzori ranges.

The Ugandan portion of Eastern Zaire lowlands EBA (classified Priority High) lies in the northwestern sector of Semliki Forest (Semliki National Park) touching DRC’s great Ituri Forest. Semliki Forest is outstandingly rich in wildlife and internationally recognized: it contains half as many bird species as the entire DRC and nearly two thirds as many as the 181,000 km² of the Upper Guinea Forests. Globally threatened species (Near-threatened) here include the Great Snipe, White-naped Pigeon, Sassi’s Greenbul, Papyrus Gonolek and Forest Ground Thrush.

A section of the Rwenzori ranges habitat. The park contains 17 Albertine endemics.

A section of the Rwenzori ranges habitat. The park contains 17 Albertine endemics.

Uganda’s fraction of Kenyan Mountains EBA lies on the country’s portion of Mount Elgon extending for about 80 km north/south and 50 km east/west. On its slopes is a 900 km² forest extending across the Uganda-Kenya frontier, gazetted as Mount Elgon National Park on either side. The bird diversity totals 300 species (three confined to this EBA, and one near threatened species – Taita Falcon). The restricted range species include Francolinus jacksoni, Macronyx sharpie and Cisticola hunter.

Over 25% of all bird species (2561 species) have restricted ranges being confined to areas less than 5000 km². Of these 816 are threatened species, yet most (80%) of the 62 species that have gone extinct in the last 200 years had restricted ranges. 77% of EBAs are located in the tropics and subtropics.

From a global perspective, the most essential feature of EBAs is that they include important numbers of the globally threatened species in somewhat small regions, as well as vast numbers of other organisms. They deliver a chance for maximum conservation with minimum effort.

Further Reading/ Sources:

Endemic Bird Locations. BirdLife International.

Endemic Bird Regions of the Planet: Priorities for Biodiversity Conservation. Stattersfield, A. J., M. J. Crosby, A. J. Long et al. (BirdLife Conservation Series No. 7.) BirdLife International. 1998.


Gorilla gathering at ITFC

Last week ITFC hosted the workshop “Gorillas across Africa” that included representatives from the majority of gorilla habitat countries. We believe this was the first time that such a broad gathering has been convened. The meeting was led by the Max Planck Institute (Evolutionary Anthropology), and the North Carolina Zoo.


Gladys Kalema of Uganda’s Conservation Through Public Health presenting a study on the health status of people, livestock and gorillas in and around Bwindi


Participants from research stations, management authorities, NGOs and conservation organisations attended the workshop

Three days were filled with enthousiastic and interactive discussions on research and monitoring methods, conservation, veterinary questions as well as communication and education activities in the various countries — all related to gorillas. All participants agreed that sharing such experiences and ideas was valuable. It is a remarkable difference that Mountain Gorillas have been intensely studied for decades already, and censuses have taken place several times, whereas in the Central African Republic the numbers of (Lowland) gorillas are not even known to the nearest ten-thousand.

One of the West African participants was heard to comment that where in East Africa gorilla conservation is supported by income from tourism, such support in West Africa still mostly depends on community education and cultural attachment to the forest habitat of the gorillas. These comparisons, insights and opportunities to share knowledge are valuable.

We welcome participants to add their own observations to this short blog on the workshop!

Miriam and Douglas

Elephants in the Mists: a rare Bwindi sighting

This week a contribution of a former gorilla research assistant, with writer’s aspirations… obviously!

The sudden crash hit the forest floor like thunder in the near distance. The ITFC tracker and field worker stopped, causing the team to fall short inches from him. His quivering lips, widened eyes, and stiff stance warned us all. Even the strong Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA) guard with his long, threatening rifle and strict facial expressions, became uncharacteristically anxious. He grasped two of the researchers and held them back. Branches and bushes rumbled against the crashing sounds meters from us, on the thick forest floor. Our hearts pounded, some with excitement and others, apparent fear and caution. For most of us, we just stood in wonderment, waiting to hear the guide’s explanation. Could it be? Were we meters away from one of the most elusive, yet largest, creatures that inhabit the lush impenetrable forests that make up Bwindi’s National Park? That was the question going through our minds as we strained from the pushing, shoving and gentle grasp of our soldier and tracker. One thing was clear, they wanted to leave and fast!

Bwindi, as you can read from previous blogs, is home to many amazing, beautiful and mysterious creatures. From exotic butterflies to a variety of primate species, including the endangered mountain gorillas, the National Park is a treasure chest of information, exploration and wonder. That is why ITFC, in collaboration with the Max Planck Institute, hosted a small group of Rwandan mountain gorilla researchers and conservationists from the Karisoke Research Center, which is based in Rwanda as part of the Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund International. This exchange lasted for a weekend, where the group was split into two teams. One team would observe the Kyagurilo Gorilla Research Group while the other team went on a forest walk to Mbwindi Swamp. Teams would change the following day. And it was on this misty, Sunday morning that one of the teams would observe more than they thought on their forest walk.


From left to right: Alex, Joel, Felix and Medi walking in the Sunday morning mist so typical of Bwindi in rainy season

We walked along the steep paths that are typical of Bwindi, meandering our way down towards the famous swamp. The team explored the forests, seeing some interesting birds. In the background, the “booms” and “pyows” of blue monkeys followed us, echoing across the forest. As we neared the swamp, there were elephant signs–tracks in the mud, dung on the ground. While the elephants are difficult to observe, such signs are everywhere. Never did we, or anyone else, think that we would actually see these giants.

The tracker and guide told us that we needed to move away and quickly. We would not be able to continue along the path towards Mbwindi. The crashing continued. But our curiosity won us over as we crunched, stretching on our toes, together on a fallen tree stump in order to see the mystery behind the dense vegetation. And there he was–a bull elephant! He was just meters away. We could see his thick, grey back as he slowly made his way through the bushes. As we crept away, we noticed more elephants, higher up on the sloping hillside. The team found a spot, on the opposite slope, where we could observe the herd without disturbing them. Once in awhile, one would make a loud trumpet vocalization. I am sure they could sense our presence but they continued to feed. We passed around binoculars, eager to get a better view of these giant, yet peaceful, and intelligent creatures. The team sat for over an hour observing the herd; 13 elephants were counted, including some infants. The infants suckled. One juvenile used her trunk to throw dirt over her back, to help cool herself from the heat. The large clouds of brown, gritty dust encircled her, adding to the misty day. The other infants nestled between the females.




The above photographs were taken by Alexander Pinsker, from a great (safe) distance; excuse the quality!

There have been a few sightings of these elephants in Bwindi (several have been mentioned in past blogs). The population estimate was approximately 30 elephants through the National Park, however since they are so difficult to study this is just a rough number. Watching the 13 some elephants in front of us, we knew how lucky we were. We were also able to watch them for over an hour. It was more than we ever hoped to experience that day. The elephants are definitely one of the treasures that makes up Bwindi’s impenetrable realm.

Thanks to Joel Glick, one of the Karisoke visitors who was former assistant on the Max Planck Institute’s Mountain Gorilla research in Bwindi.

Is it getting too hot for Mountain Gorillas?

Last week Robert, Badru, Douglas and I went to our local town, Kabale, to participate in the closing workshop of the ‘Gorilla Conservation and Climate Change’ project run by AWF-IGCP and EcoAdapt. This project has been collecting and synthesising data and expert views concerning the consequences of climate change for the endangered Mountain Gorillas. The aim is to develop an action plan for climate adaptation. The project had financial support from the MacArthur Foundation — also a major donor to ITFC.

A broad group of participants attended:  protected area managers, research stations, conservation NGOs, and local governments from Uganda, Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of Congo. We were there to share and review the outcomes of the project and to prioritise and clarify adaptation strategies based on the results of previous workshops.


Isabella Masinde (AWF-Nairobi) presents the outcome of the project to the stakeholders (photo by Anna Behm Masozera, Communications Officer IGCP – Kigali

The main threat of climate change for mountain gorillas appears to be that it comes on top of so many other existing pressures (population growth and increasing pressure on protected areas, diseases, poaching and other illegal activities). Therefore the workshop highlighted the importance of strong communication, support, and coordination among stakeholders focused on gorilla conservation and those focused on human well-being.

Participants still expressed diverse views on the reality and cause of climate change. But at the same time, no-one doubted the benefits to conservation and human welfare of most of the many proposed strategies for ‘climate change adaptation’. Workgroups on different themes prioritised these strategies for action.


Too hot for you in the sun?

Little is known about the impact of climate change on the gorillas … and many unanswered questions came up. There’ll be plenty of research to keep ITFC and our partners busy for a while.


and eh… Douglas asked me to mention that in the evening ITFC won the pool competition with Karisoke research station (Felix anyway)!

An interview with Peter Kabano

For just over a year I have been working at ITFC, as a gorilla research assistant, employed by the Max Planck Institute; working with the mountain gorillas here in Bwindi. My current work is based on the habituation of two groups of mountain gorillas (for tourism purposes), in a joint collaboration with the Ugandan Wildlife Authority. This involves; data collection for assessment regarding the habituation process and also identification of the gorillas within the group – the group composition needs to be considered; the total number of gorillas, and the age class of each gorilla. These age classes range from fully grown adult silverback males and blackback females, to juveniles and infants. This is done through nest counts, and dung measurements, also a sample for genetic identification is taken. I also work with a number of different people – from training UWA rangers on data collection, to an ongoing conservation education programme in primary schools. I also help with the gorilla census, to monitor the population change in gorillas in Bwindi, and in the Virungas. Finally, I am involved with research in the Bitukura group, where we are observing how the gorillas are reacting to the tourists – the impact of habituation. As you can see, I am very busy!

Peter Kabano

The first time I came to ITFC I was as an intern, and was motivated by my experience of research work in tropical rain forests. I then returned as a volunteer for a year, working on the Multiple Use Programme. Whilst I was volunteering, the opportunity came up for this research assistant position with the Max Planck Institute, so I applied, and got it.

One of the things that I really enjoy about my work, is the element of cooperation with many different companies, such as the Ugandan Wildlife Authority. Ultimately though, I love being with the mountain gorillas, and helping to conserve and protect them. I still remember my first contact with the gorillas – it was so exciting; they are such beautiful, majestic creatures.

Tracking the gorillas can be a real challenge sometimes, and field work can be intense, due to the fact that we are chasing wild gorillas! However, my work is extremely important, as we are continuously monitoring the entire gorilla population, and keeping an eye out to anything threatening their existence.

Note : This blog is based on an interview conducted and transcribed by Alex Pinsker

An interview with Emmanuel Akampulira

Since February 2010, I have been the coordinator of the WILD West Project, (Wildlife Landscapes and Development for Conservation in Western Uganda). My role on this project is to explore human perceptions of wildlife-human conflicts and what governs the adoption of specific measures to reduce animal raiding into fields around national parks. I also coordinate other objectives under this project which include:

  • Evaluation of the resource use program me
  • Supporting Uganda Wildlife Authority in research and monitoring
  • Improved understanding of disease transfer

I have had a passion for research since my second year of university, and when I visited ITFC as an intern, I completely fell in love with the area, and realized that it was the ideal place to carry on with research – there were endless opportunities for me here. I initially started off as a volunteer for a year, but when the opportunity to apply for the WILD West Coordinator arose, I instantly took it. The directors had appreciated and valued my hard work over the last year of volunteering, and accepted me for the job.

Emmanuel Akampulira

An average day for me at the field station consists of sorting out data, and writing reports. My field work involves visiting communities neighbouring protected areas, where I talk to local people about issues concerning problem animals. Here they raise issues concerning interventions used against problem animals and what they think would be alternative ways of dealing with animals. This is a factor of my work that I really enjoy – I get to meet and interact with lots of different people, all with varying opinions regarding the conservation. Dealing with the local people is very challenging – they expect a lot from you, and being just a researcher it is hard for me to find instant solutions to their ever-growing problems.

I feel that my job is very important, because it is the research that helps conservation. When animals come out of the park, the local communities lose crops, livestock, damage to property and sometimes their lives. This would inevitably result in animosity toward the animals and conservation of protected areas at large. This is the opposite of what we want. We want to harmonize the community, AND the park, and help to conserve the wildlife, by working with local communities to find ways to control animal problems.

Note : This blog is based on an interview conducted and transcribed by Alex Pinsker