Update from our working holiday volunteering with leopards, elephants and cheetahs in Namibia, Africa (www.biosphere-expeditions.org/namibia)

We catch animals quicker than I can write. Yesterday morning started with the release of our hyaena and just an hour later (I was just about to send pictures for the diary), Ann, Derek and Brian called in and with news of a big male leopard in the first box trap they checked. So we quickly changed the schedule for the day again (stay flexible! ;-)) and were lucky that the vet happend to be on the farm and had time to come immediately. Everyone was quickly called in from their activities and we all went straight to witness the big male leopard being collared. It needed six blokes, almost an hour, a lot of discussion and even more laughs to set up a small cover tent, but in the end we managed to sort it all out and were able to put a GPS/GMS collar on the 62 kg male leopard. The collar will now send regular messages with the animal’s location to Kristina. We decided to spend noon and all afternoon at the collaring spot and foregoing lunch were able to release the leopard after some hours. We arrived back at camp in the late afternoon very hungry and tired, but, as you can imagine, very happy!

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Update from our conservation holiday volunteering with jaguars, pumas, ocelots, primates and other species in the Peru Amazon jungle (www.biosphere-expeditions.org/peru)

Sorry for the late final entry, but I was travelling for a long time immediately after the expedition. So here it goes:

1 September

We are back in Iquitos. Early this morning Herbert, Peter Eva, Katherine and I left the ARC after a great & productive time at the Amazon Research Centre. On the way we had lunch at the Tahuayo River lodge and visited El Chino, a small village of 160 residents. We switched to a speed boat in Esperanza village to take us down the Amazon river, on the way we spotted five grey dolphins and watched them for a while.

Over the last two weeks we have surveyed about 48 km on transect routes within the trailgrid.and paddled more than 15 km up and down the Tahuayo river. A couple of hundered different species were spotted including birds, frogs, reptiles, spiders, snakes and bugs. Mammals recorded were squirrel monkeys, saki, titi, brown & white fronted capuchin, saddleback & mustached tamarin monkeys, coati and an anteater. On our camera traps we captured margay, agouti and opossum. On the trails we found tracks of puma, tapir and deer.

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I would to thank everyone involved in this year’s Peru Amazon expedition. You’ve been a great help and good mates. With your help we have created the basis for long-term wildlife monitoring to help conserve one of the most precious on our planet. I hope you enjoyed the time out in the forest as much as I did and hope to see some of you again someday.

Best wishes

Malika Fettak
Expedition leader

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Update from our SCUBA conservation holiday volunteering with coral reefs and whale sharks of the Maldives (www.biosphere-expeditions.org/maldives)

We’ve been very good and checked those reefs, so we treated ourselves to a lazy dive yesterday, at night (after the work was done) and at arguably one of the world’s best night dive sites. Night dive fears were overcome heroically and our reward was a great display of sharks and stingrays hunting, turtles trying to find a place to sleep and a very different reef at night. The daytime reefs haven’t been bad either including one with an unheard of 50% hard coral coverage! Pictures of everything and a short movie of the night dive below.

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Our scientist Jean-Luc is happy, the sun has come out, the food’s delicious and we’re winning the Reef Check Distinguished Service Medal. What more could we hope for. Whale sharks perhaps? Ah, that’s tomorrow, we hope.

Stay tuned.

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Update from our working holiday volunteering with leopards, elephants and cheetahs in Namibia, Africa (www.biosphere-expeditions.org/namibia)

Hello again from Namibia, this is Jenny your expedition leader for the rest of our Namibia expedition. After five successful groups in the Altai mountains, I arrived in Namibia on Saturday just in time to meet and greet group 3 on Sunday morning. Even with the time being changed to daylight savings, all 10 team members (including John, who joins his seventh expedition with us to Namibia!) were on time and keen to start collecting data under the Africa sun. Kristina and I kept everyone awake with presentations and equipment training until 21:00 on our first training day.

On Monday it was driver training as usual and when we returned to base, we heard that the non-driver group had activated two box traps and spotted, besides all the different antelopes, a predator that is really hard to see: a honey badger!

On Tuesday, as we approached the first trap, Kristina noticed that both gates were closed and as we went closer we couldn’t believe that we have already captured a predator: another brown hyaena! This trap seems to be at a very good spot as it has already yielded two brown hyaenas, one leopard and a caracal. What a morning. Everyone is preparing behind me for our afternoon activities and Hendrik, Sandra and John are excited to get the SD cards and look at the pictures of our camera traps.

Stay tuned for more updates and pictures as soon as I can get to an internet connect that will not buckle under a few KB.

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Update from our SCUBA conservation holiday volunteering with coral reefs and whale sharks of the Maldives (www.biosphere-expeditions.org/maldives)

With everyone fully qualified Reef Checkers (well done everybody!), we checked our first reef (Ellaidhoo of Ari atoll) today. This reef was surveyed just before the massive bleaching event of the late 1990s, so it was exciting to go back and see how it had fared after the event.

The great thing about Reef Check is that it gives us tangible results almost as soon as we’re out of the water and have punched our data into the laptops. The results are encouraging. Coral cover is back to half or two-thirds of what it was pre-1998, so that’s a decent recovery in 14 years. There certainly were a lot of butterflyfish, sweetlips, snappers and quite a few groupers (all Reef Check indicator species) and the coral diversity was as beautiful to look at as it was interesting to record.

Tomorrow things get even more interesting as we re-survey a reef for which we have pre- and post-bleaching data. Thanks again to everyone who came on this expedition to spend their time and money on getting us and our Maldivian partners these data. You could have gone to roast on a beach, but you decided to help us. Thank you!

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Update from our SCUBA conservation holiday volunteering with coral reefs and whale sharks of the Maldives (www.biosphere-expeditions.org/maldives)

We’ve spent the last days training our team up to be Reef Checkers and so far they have passed with flying colours as one of the most capable and relaxed teams, sitting in their lecture, hardly even blinking an eyelid as the Carpe Diem had to plough through a storm with the waves crashing against the portholes.

Just an hour ago everyone passed their fish identification exam with flying colours.

Here’s the roll of honour of people who’ve passed:

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And here’s the rest of the beach bums who were already qualified and so could laze around on the boat whilst the rest were sweating it out in the “exam room”.

Left to right: Loz, Jan, Ushan, Rosella, Nicola, Jean-Luc
Left to right: Loz, Jan, Ushan, Rossella, Nicola, Jean-Luc

Tomorrow it’s invertebrate and substrate exams, then an in-water test and then we’ll be ready to Check that Reef!

The diving’s been good too with a variety of good sites so far to get everyone to recognise indicator species in situ.

Check that Reef!
Check that Reef! (Picture courtesy of Nicola Bush)

Update from our SCUBA conservation holiday volunteering with coral reefs and whale sharks of the Maldives (www.biosphere-expeditions.org/maldives)

We’ve arrived, the boat’s set up, Jean-Luc and I have finished the itinerary and the first thunderstorm has just moved through.

JL (right) and MH (left) putting the finishing touches to the itinerary
JL (right) and MH (left) putting the finishing touches to the itinerary

The Carpe Diem is as beautiful as ever.

My mobile number (for emergencies only) is xxxx and I look forward to meeting you all tomorrow morning.

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