So today was the usual whirlwind of checking equipment, shopping, repacking, reviewing datasheets and the research, safety, evacuation and all sorts of other plans A, B, C and D.
We are mostly done – perhaps just another morning tomorrow – and then off into the field. Our research plan for the expedition is:
1. Conduct wildlife survey (tiger and other species) in the following cells. Surveys include visual transect surveys as well as camera-trapping. Cells include those with and without villages for comparative analysis of the areas of tigers and their prey animals prefer.
Cells with villages in them: W137 or X136, Y131, Y132, Y135, Y136, Z131, AA130, AB130
Cells without villages*: X131, X132, X133, X134, Z134, AA132, AA135, AB135
*surveying these cells is likely to involve multi-day trips, carrying tents, hammocks and food, and staying with a local community. Participants can volunteer for these multi-day trips.
2. Conduct interviews with local people in the area (not necessarily in cells above) to ascertain human-tiger encounters and conflicts, as well as attitudes of local people towards the tiger.
3. Visit schools in the area (not necessarily in cells above) and conduct tiger educational activities, including distribution of tiger educational materials.
4. Document illegal logging and poaching activities (such as snares, traps, gun cartridges, etc.) for analysis by WWF and to be passed on to the national park authorities and rangers.
5. Work with local village headmen and communities to establish community bases for multi-day surveys. Also work with headmen and villagers to identify community members who can be trained to help with community-based tiger surveys using camera traps and other survey methods. The aim is to train and establish teams of community surveyors to assist in year-round tiger surveying and anti-poaching activities.
6. Opportunistically survey for birds, using existing skills amongst participants, and create a bird list as another indicator of local biodiversity.
And finally, for good measure, some pictures from the Red Planet breakfast room. Given this is a fairly religious Muslim country, where talking about sex and alcohol is not very high on the agenda, we are guessing that not many people realise at all what’s hanging up on the walls.