Two months have passed since the last blog and we have been extremely busy during this time. We had a great opportunity to increase conservation capacity across the border in Haiti by providing training to several members of the Haitian Conservation Youth Group along with another local NGO.
The enthusiastic team of volunteers attended a course at our field site in Mencia, and, despite heavy rain, we were able to make the most of breaks between showers to visit den sites and demonstrate the key field skills required for searching.
The group went away with the knowledge and ability to undertake their own hutia and solenodon surveys in their study areas. The hutia GPS collaring work is proving successful, but has also thrown up some challenges for the future. We are gaining a better incite in to the activity and behaviour of hutia, however, the robustness of the collar is being tested by some mischievous members of the family groups, who have been causing damage by gnawing the plastic coating.
Ros and the SOH field researchers have now moved to a new field site where there is a greater mix of forest and crop land and they have already caught and radio-collared 13 new solenodons from different families.
They will soon begin collecting the telemetry data to see where these animals are moving. The field team in the south-west are about to be joined for three months by an MSc student from the University of East Anglia (UEA) who will be examining the impacts of dogs on solenodon by collecting data on daily and nightly dog movements in the solenodon study area using GPS collars.
We had a very exciting visit from the BBC Natural History Unit who sent a crew out to film our solenodons and the work we are doing here. It proved to be a hectic week with lots of late nights in order to get all the footage that they wanted, but definitely worth all the effort. Our research assistants enjoyed the whole experience and found the process both interesting and also a little bemusing. As soon as we are able to give more details we will reveal the purpose of their work to you in a future blog!
The SOH team up in the North of the island (funded by the BBC Wildlife Fund) have been busy undertaking surveys within communities close to the national parks in order to find out what people know about our two species. These are now being followed up by talks to villagers alongside environmental discussion, for example in the small village of Cristal de la Laguna.
If you want to find out more or get some background information have a look at the previous Last Survivor’s blogs, and keep your eyes peeled for other news coming soon!