End of the year on the Last Survivors project…
As we approach the end of 2011 its time to once again reflect on the year and look forward to the year ahead. This year really has really been quite amazingly productive despite some of challenges that we have faced. Our success has primarily come about through the increasing number of individuals that have been involved in the project at different stages throughout the year.
We have had a large team involved in the field work: Pedro Martinez, Ros Kennerley, Nicolas Corona, Jose Ramon “Moncho” Espinal, Sarah Hoy, Rocio Pozo, “Yeyo” Dionis Espinal, Yimel Corona, Anderson Jean, Enold Louis Jean, Timoteo Bueno and Jose Rafael de la Cruz. Huge thanks has got to go out to all of them, they have all contributed to our increasing knowledge of solenodon and hutia on the island of Hispaniola. The management team Dr Richard Young (Durrell Wildlife Conservation Trust), Jorge Brocca (Sociedad Ornitologica de la Hispaniola), Dr Sam Turvey (EDGE –Zoological Society of London) and Dr Patricia Toribio (Dominican Republic National Zoo) also deserve special thanks for their leadership of the project. Several other organisations have also provided us with a lot of help throughout the year (see supporting organisations) but particular thanks has got to go to the Punta Cana Ecological Foundation and to the BBC Wildlife Fund whose backing this year has been absolutely crucial to the successes we have had.
As I type this (19th of December), the field work has not yet ended. A team from the Sociedad Ornitologica de la Hispaniola (SOH) led by Pedro Martinez is still out in the field surveying areas in the national park “Loma Quita Espuela” and I have recently returned from carrying out surveys with more of the SOH team both within and outside National Parks in the north of the Dominican Republic. Our teams are becoming increasingly independent not just in terms of planning and carrying out scientific surveys but also in terms of educating the general public and making more people aware of the importance of conserving these two unique mammal species. I am particularly proud of this achievement and we will be able to build on this by increasing the use we make of the infomercial films created in conjunction with Funk Productions for the project. One of the infomercials has already proven to be quite a hit on YouTube with more than 1400 views since it was posted at the beginning of September.
The year ahead is sure to be full of many new challenges as we strive to secure the project for the long term by sharing what we have learnt here as widely as possible. The conservation of solenodon and hutia both in Hispaniola and across the Caribbean will undoubtedly rely on furthering broadscale cooperation and collaborations. We will continue to rely on the assistance of all the people and organisations who have supported and collaborated with our work so far, which includes you of course.
It just remains for me to wish you all a very happy holiday season and all the best for 2012. With your continued support and encouragement I am sure we can continue to improve the chances of maintaining the last survivor mammal species of the Caribbean.