Hello everyone, happy new year and welcome to the first diary entry for Biosphere Expeditions’ fourth Arabia expedition taking place in January 2015. My name is Kate Fox and I will be your expedition leader for this project along with Malika Fettak. We were both in Arabia almost a year ago and are very much looking forward to returning to continue with this valuable research work.
At the moment I am in West Wales (cold and windy), preparing paperwork and equipment, but next Monday I will be flying to Dubai to meet up with Malika for more preparation work in the Dubai Desert Conservation Reserve (currently 27°C and sunny).
On this expedition we will continue to survey and monitor the endangered Arabian oryx and other species in the reserve including sand fox and extremely elusive Gordon’s wildcat. Our survey techniques include setting live traps and camera traps and using GPS to navigate around the reserve by car and on foot – a good chance to burn off all those excess calories after Christmas, tramping up and down sand dunes for several hours a day! Live traps will be set up not only targeting sand foxes, but also a variety of smaller rodents since not much is known about their presence/absence in the DDCR and the behaviour of some of them. We will record everything we see, whether it is the study animals themselves or their tracks in the sand. For the first time during this expedition, we will also be darting Arabian oryx and attaching radio collars to monitor their movements. Three collars are waiting to do their job. The data delivered from the collars will help to build up a picture of their movements and behaviour, how far each herd ranges and what their preferred feeding places are.
Keep an eye out for our next diary entry from Arabia next week and in the meantime Happy New Year!