The first team of the Slovakia lynx, wolf and bear expedition arrived safely at base yesterday.
After lunch they were thoroughly inducted – enjoying two of Tomas’ wonderful films: ‘Lynx liaison’ and ‘Wandering Slovakia’, as well as training in target species track, scat and feeding remains identification. Following further map, compass, GPS and snow shoe briefings this morning, the team ventured out into the Velka Fatra today.
Snow conditions were knee-deep powder, so snow shoes were essential. We had frequent alternating volunteers to lead the way, breaking trail in the fresh snow, the toughest job), with the others following in line behind. This is an energy-saving strategy also adopted by the wolves we are studying, who often follow in each other’s footprints, making it difficult to know how many wolves have made a trail! The beautiful view at Lake Blatna was worth every step….as was the hot chocolate at Pod Lipami on the return to base.
The group quickly got to grips (after a few tumbles) with the wide gait needed to walk in snow shoes. We predict sore (toned) thighs by the end of the week.
One wolf track was discovered and two camera traps placed, ready to photograph any activity in the area over the next few days.
The team are learning fast and will head out tomorrow in four small groups of two and three.
Not before hot showers and a hearty traditional Slovak meal – oh, and Tatra tea!