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Entering a new and exciting phase

By on February 22, 2011 in Focal species, Hispaniolan solenodon, Mammals, Uncategorized

This is an update from Joe Nunez on the Last Survivors project.

It’s been far too long since our last blog but then we have been incredibly busy on all fronts.

The team attended the VII Congress of Caribbean Biodiversity which was held at the “Universidad Autonoma de Santo Domingo (UASD)” at the start of February. It offered us the opportunity to present and share our work with the wider scientific and conservation community from the Caribbean region. It was great to get to hear about other projects working in this part of the world and it was particularly exciting to see so many young people in attendance at the congress. It is the younger generation that we need to empower in order to continue all the ongoing conservation efforts that are going on.

As part of this empowering process we were very privileged to be invited to the Punta Cana International School where we gave talks to over 150 students ranging very widely in age (from 7 through to 16). A small group of older students came out into the forest to get first hand experience of the work we do including the setting and collecting of our camera traps. Unfortunately they also experienced the frustration of not being successful in capturing any images of solenodon or hutia but then that is the nature of working with these elusive, shy and nocturnal creatures. None the less, there was great feedback from the students most of which had not even heard of these two special mammals.

Further talks have also been done at a village around Bahoruco National Park although some were rather impromptu. A video produced by a Brazilian TV crew was shown at the same village and proved very popular with the local community.

Our own infomercial films are coming along and we hope they will be ready for public viewing very shortly indeed. Making them has proven to be quite a challenge for all of us and Daniela Rusowsky, along with the rest of the team, have put a lot of work in to creating them.

Our field surveys have made great progress since our last blog particularly thanks to our new energetic research assistant “Moncho” who is increasingly working independent and leading his own teams into the field. We have now completed our first round of surveys at random points throughout Jaragua National Park and “del Este” National Park and just have a handful of random points in Bahoruco National park which we hope to complete over the coming two months.

The two months that lie ahead mark a very exciting phase of the project since we will be creating our first distribution models as well as starting the work on radio tracking solenodon and hutia which is being led by our new team member Ros Kennerley (see previous blogs) who has been in the Dominican Republic since the beginning of February.

There is a lot more exciting news that I could share with you but I can’t until it’s absolutely confirmed. Hopefully that will tantalise you enough to return in the coming back and checking for our next blog update. Remember to follow us on Facebook and/or Twitter.