After visiting friends and family back in the United Kingdom I am now back in the sunny Caribbean. Actually it’s not been that sunny since we are at the start of the rainy season and tropical storm Emily has been sweeping past us over the last few days. I was itching to get out into the field shortly after arriving but the storm has delayed that departure by dumping lots of rain on us, here in the capital (Santo Domingo) we have had 24 hours of continuous rain so far.
While I was in the UK I was able to meet up with a lot of the other Durrell overseas team in Jersey. This was an incredibly positive event for me since not only did I get to share and exchange experiences with them but I also got to make a whole lot of new friends. Regardless of which part of the world we are working in, we all seem to share many of the same challenges. It is also great to know that we also share many of the passions that drive us to dedicate our lives to conservation.
Pedro Martinez (Field Project Manager, Hispaniolan Ornithological Society) has been busy while I have been away. He has been exploring the north part of the island and after meeting and interviewing a range of candidates has selected the team he will be working with. He has also started some initial training with them in our field methods with the assistance of our very experienced research assistants – Moncho, Yeyo and Nicolas. This part of our work is thanks to the BBC Wildlife Fund…you may not know this but the BBC has announced the closure of this fund which is incredibly sad news since it was a vital lifeline for not just this but many other conservation projects too. If you want to help us in the campaign to save the fund please sign the on line petition at: Https://www.savebbcwildlifefund.net/
One bit of sad news while I was away is that a large area of forest was burnt down in one of our main study sites. In fact this site is where three post graduate students had been carrying out a lot of research over the previous few months. We know that a substantial population of solenodon lived in this area, hopefully they managed to survive the destruction.
Ros, Rocio and Sarah, the three postgraduate students mentioned earlier, are now back in the United Kingdom analysing and writing up their data. We will let you know what their findings are soon. While I was in the UK they presented me with a photo of the three of them holding cuddly solenodons (if your interested in buying a cuddly solenodon please let us know). This pose came about after a phone meeting between us which reminded us all of the classic scene from Charlie’s angels – aptly renamed Joe’s angels.
The next month is going to be tremendously busy primarily on two fronts. We will be pushing on with our work in the north of the country as well as organising an ISLA (Island Species-Led Action) course for September at Punta Cana Ecological Foundation (Https://www.puntacana.org/). After that we will be entering the crucial final year of the project where we use the information that we have gathered to implement effective management and monitoring plans with the help of a broad collaboration of organisations and individuals across the island. Our aim is to leave a project that will be self sustaining and long lasting.
Remember that as always you can keep an eye on what we are doing by following us on Https://www.facebook.com/groups/thelastsurvivors/ or Https://twitter.com/#!/solenodon_joe. Hopefully the storm will pass soon so we can get out into the forest!