Since 2009, Dr José Nuñez-Miño has been the field project leader for the Last Survivors Project, raising awareness and conducting conservation actions for the last surviving land mammals on the island of Hispaniola: the solenodon (EDGE mammal #7) and the hutia. As he moves to a new post, he shares his thoughts on the last three years…
There have been some substantial changes since our last update and this, along with all the other work that has been going on, has kept us all very busy. The main news that I have to share with you is that I have now left the Last Survivors Project to take up a new job in the UK. After a period of handover the project is being run on the ground by the Hispaniolan Ornithological Society team with ongoing support from project partners in the UK (EDGE & the Durrell Wildlife Conservation Trust) and the Dominican Republic (DR National Zoo), along with all the other individuals and organisations that have helped.
For my part I will definitely continue to support the project from afar in every way I can, furthermore I will be returning to the DR in order to assist in a Species Action Planning Workshop in early October. This event will be the focus of the project over the coming months and represents the culmination of the Darwin Initiative funded part of the project. The workshop will bring together all the people involved in the conservation of both solenodon and hutia, it will represent a huge opportunity to create a set of actions that can help the long term conservation of these species. Before then though all the information available for both species including the extensive data that has been collected over the last 3 years needs to be summarised, this is quite a task.
Our project in the north of the country sponsored by the BBC Wildlife fund, has now come to a close. Timoteo and Rafael have done an outstanding job over the last year, not only doing some very hard core field work in remote areas but also engaging very positively with their local communities to make them more aware of the importance of conserving the incredible unique plants and animals they share their island with. Both Timoteo and Rafael are lifelong members of the Last Survivors team and we hope that we can work with them again soon, they have definitely done their bit (and more!) for solenodon and hutia conservation.
I’ll be meeting Ros Kennerly again very soon to find out about her fieldwork results. She has done some great work already but she will be heading out for one final field season very soon. Ros’ work is going to be groundbreaking because it will reveal more than we have ever known about the secret lives of solenodon and hutia. The whole team, but particularly the research assistants from SOH, has learnt a massive amount from the radio tracking work that is being done. Jess, the MSc student from the University of East Anglia, is just about to finish her write up so soon we expect the results on the nightly wonderings of village dogs (possibly the main threat to solenodon).
From my perspective, the last three years in the Dominican Republic have been an amazing experience. I feel very privileged to have been able to contribute to this project as part of such a wonderful dedicated team. I am also very proud of the amazing work that we have managed to do and I’m confident that the project will continue to grow from strength to strength.
Solenodon and hutia have managed to survive against the odds for a long time and with the continued assistance from the dedicated Dominican scientists and conservationists they will hopefully continue to be flagship species for all the unique flora and fauna to be found on Hispaniola. I will miss all my friends in the Dominican Republic but they can be sure that they will have a steadfast ambassador in me.
- Joe set up an online survey to get feedback of your opinions of the Last Survivors Project’s work. It only takes five minutes and will really help contribute to conservation!
- You can also read some of Joe’s other blogs here >