Kenneth Grahame Society Dinner

By Joyce Yao, Ilana Cope and Reha Soni, all Lower Sixth; photo by Molly van der Heiden, Upper Sixth.

We were fortunate enough to have OSE Deya Ward-Niblett visit us on 13th November for the Kenneth Grahame Society. Deya is currently undertaking a Masters in Zoology and Documentary Filmmaking.  Ms Ward-Niblett talked about her experience in Borneo while volunteering at the conservation centre studying orangutans. She shared her observations on one female orangutan who could build a brush using sticks and twigs to clean her cage and how this allows us to see how other species use their initiative to create tools. 

She focused on culture within the animal population. One example that stuck with us was how species differ in techniques and how knowledge differs with different cultures of fish in lakes. An example she provided was that if you change the type of lake but keep the fish the same the fish still act the same which highlights culture within fish as it shows that it is not the environment that impacts their actions.

Ms Ward-Niblett also spoke about how animals communicate, using the example of crickets. If you slow down the frequency of crickets chirping then they sound like a human choir. We found this extremely fascinating as it revealed the complexity of animal communication that humans are yet to discover.

During the dinner we discussed in further depth what we had found interesting from the talk, in particular the specific habit of an individual that can imitate others in the group and also can be passed down the generation. We also discussed a BBC programme called Spy in the Wild where an animatronic spy camera recorded animals in their natural habitat without the influence of humans and considered how this showed emotions within animals through their reaction to the animatronic.

We found this dinner fascinating as it gave us a deeper insight into emotions, communication and culture within different species of animals, other than humans.

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