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Solenodon is Species of the Day!

By on June 17, 2010 in Uncategorized, Focal species, Mammals, Hispaniolan solenodon, ZSL

I don’t know how but the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) figured out that it is my birthday today (17th June) and I suspect that’s why they decided to make the solenodon the “Species of the day” today.

Its all part of the IUCN involvement with the “International Year of Biodiversity” so please do check out and download the information which is available here (If your reading this after the 17th of June then go here). The whole of the last survivor’s team feel extremely privileged to have one of our species honoured in this way.

I’m off back to the UK for a while for mostly a holiday although I will also be doing a series of talks along with Sam Turvey during an exhibition of incredible images by some outstanding photographers from the Dominican Republic who have kindly donated their work (which will be on sale) to the project. It’s all part of our celebration of international year of biodiversity. For more information about the event in July click here and to book tickets go to Https://www.londonapothecary.co.uk/special.php

The BBC coverage we have had this month has been truly amazing and has brought the work we are doing into the limelight. We cannot thank Rebecca Morelle and Simon Hancock from the BBC enough for all the hard work that they put into this. They are now officially honorary members of “The Last Survivors” team for life.

I mentioned in my blog in May that the rainy season appeared to be late this year but it has now arrived in earnest. It delayed some of our field work for a bit but Pedro managed to get out last week into Bahoruco to look for evidence of our two species in some tough to get to sites. Despite getting soaked for two days in a row they managed to get all the work done. While they were in the field they came across the remains of a solenodon, unfortunately it was mostly just bones so it is difficult if not impossible to figure out exactly what the cause of death was. There are quite a few to choose from unfortunately, dogs or poison to name two. Of course it may have been an entirely natural death – lets hope so!

One of the project partners, Dominican Republic National Zoo (ZOODOM) has had visitors from the UK. Namely Pam Broughton from the North Wales Bird Trust who runs a collaborative project doing research and trying to conserve the Ashy faced Owl (Tyto glaucops). This stunning bird is yet another of the amazing species that is only found on this Island. Since her return to the UK she has been spreading the word of our work while we in turn have promised to keep an eye out for any signs of all five owl species found here while we are out in the field. Potentially some of these owl species could be natural predators of solenodon! Pam has also managed to do some fund raising for us, thanks!!!

Cristina, who I told you about in my last blog, has done some amazing work while she has been out here with us. She has managed to interview about 250 people across nine communities near one of the national parks in just under two months. Her contribution to the project in terms of giving us some sturdy base line data on the level of awareness and perception of the two species will prove very valuable indeed.

We have continued to forge away in our efforts to form links with a variety of research and educational institutions in the Dominican Republic. These should be formalised over the coming weeks and will give us a base from which to make sure that the benefits of our work reach as wide an audience as possible. On that note, we will be joined by Rebecca Coe who is an educational officer from ZSL London Zoo for three weeks in August. We are looking forward to Rebecca’s arrival already, she will be advising and guiding our educational program aimed at kids and young adults.

Right, I’m off to pack but I’ll leave you in the very capable hands of Pedro and the rest of the team. I doubt I’ll be missed at all although I am already looking forward to returning in July to find out what has been going. I’ll no doubt not be able to resist check in on the blog to find out!