Ol Pejeta, Kenya
In association with Ol Pejeta Conservancy (OPC), Kenya, the BONES (Bones of Ol Pejeta, Neotaphonomic and Ecological Study) project involves a longitudinal study of the taphonomic and ecomorphic characterizations of bone communities in the conservancy’s mosaic of several well-defined habitat types.
Project co-directors Dr. Briana Pobiner (National Museum of Natural History, Smithsonian Institution) and Dr. Kris "Fire" Kovarovic (Durham University, UK), along with research collaborators Dr. Kari Lintulaakso (Finnish Museum of Natural History LUOMUS, University of Helsinki, Finland) and Dr. Ogeto Mwebi (National Museums of Kenya) are tracing changes in mammal habitat affiliations and predator-prey pressure across time and space. This information that will be used to interpret past ecologies and mammal community dynamics in the Plio-Pleistocene fossil record. Pobiner and Kovarovic launched the project in 2007, building on pilot study data collected by Pobiner in 2003 and 2005. Other collaborators include Professor Peter Andrews (Natural History Museum, London), Samuel Mutisya (OPC Head of Conservation), Benard Gituku (OPC Ecological Monitoring), and Dr. Nick Walton (GIS, data storage).
The BONES team is grateful to OPC security staff who have helped keep them safe while walking bone transects in 2007, 2008, 2011, 2018, and 2019; to the staff of the Stables for their support and delicious meals; and to Ella Beaudoin and Kenneth Bader for their fieldwork contributions in 2018. They are also grateful to the Government of Kenya for permission to conduct this research, and to the Smithsonian Institution and the Wenner-Gren Foundation for fieldwork funding.
To learn more about this project, watch a 2014 Smithsonian Education online educational seminar by Dr. Pobiner about this project and what modern bones can tell us about biodiversity on YouTube, or the 2021 Smithsonian Science How webinar with Dr. Pobiner talking about this project embedded directly below.
Kovarovic, K., Pobiner, B.L., 2008. Bones of Ol Pejeta: neotaphonomic and ecological survey. Poster presented at the Society for American Archaeology, Vancouver, BC, Canada.
Behrensemyer, A.K., Pobiner, B.L., 2004. Differing impact of carnivores on bone assemblages in two East African ecosystems. Paper presented at the Society for American Archaeology, Montreal, Canada.
Pobiner, B.L., Kovarovic, K. 2011. The bones of Ol Pejeta: clues to the past. Popular Archaeology Volume 4, September 8 2011.