What do gorillas, insects and music have in common? A Fossey Fund research assistant who is studying the tiny invertebrates that are crucial to the gorillas’ ecosystem while at the same time making music not only for artistry but for raising awareness of wildlife conservation.
Aime Bruce Nzeyimana Ngenzi (Bruce) says music has always been one of his passions but only does it in his free time, so that he can pursue a career as a scientist. After receiving a scholarship to study zoology and conservation at the University of Rwanda in 2018 and studying flying insects for his senior research, he became a professional intern at the Fossey Fund and began an important study aimed at assessing the distribution and diversity of insects found in soil and leaf litter in the forest. And recently he was promoted to the position of research assistant.
These tiny animals are critical to ecosystem health, since they perform a variety of functions such as water storage and nutrient recycling. This keeps the soil healthy and protects plant growth, which the gorillas depend on entirely for their food.
However, such research on these soil invertebrates in Volcanoes National Park has been lacking until now, says Bruce. His studies include collecting samples using three different methods, then examining and categorizing the findings. Bruce hopes this research will also provide basic information on changes in soil fertility in the forests, since the insects are good indicators of soil quality.
Music and gorillas
And when he’s not studying insects, Bruce says he’s also trying to use his musical talent to help the gorillas, even writing songs about them that he can perform and record. His musical talent started to gain notice in 2019, when he performed in “East Africa’s Got Talent” semifinals. With the stage name “Taykun Degree,” Bruce is now popular for doing hip hop in a music style called “Trap Soul.”