Our week is packed with activities from walking to biking to overnight surveys. It has been raining a lot on the training days but from our fist full survey day on the weather is mostly dry & sunny. We’ve been intensively monitoring the rural district of Celle where wolf scat was already found during the first week. Christine, Lalitha, Vibeke and Malika sampled four more scats proving the presence of wolf in this area. Keep your fingers crossed that any of the two teams consisting of Christine, Vibeke, Dan & John (on bikes) and Peter & Martyn (on foot) out there again today will bring some scat fresh enough for DNA analysis.
The overnighter team went far up to the North-East monitoring ‘wolf terrain’ in the rural area of Lüchow-Dannenberg. It is known that two wolf packs live within that area but much more information is needed for monitoring movements of individuals an the ‘family’ status. After two intensive days of survey walks, a night in a tent on a campsite and a 2 hour car journey Kate, Graham, John and Malika presented a plastic box filled with fresh wolf scat samples yesterday evening at the daily review. When our scientist Peter opened the box he (and everyone else in the room) immediately approved our findings – the smell of wolf shit is beyond words! 😉
Everyone on slot 2 has arrived safely. Another international team, including participants from India, Singapore, the UK and Germany, assembled in Bremen on Saturday morning. Today we are in full training mode and everyone is already looking forward to going out into the field in the afternoon.
More on how the surveys are going later in the week …
We waved team 1 good bye yesterday. Here is a quick summary of the findings of last week: 310 km of forestry roads and paths were covered by bike and on foot during 4 full survey days. Except from Thursday when heavy rain and thunderstorms forced some of us to stop their survey around mid-day and seek shelter the tracking conditions were great. In total we visited 15 cells of 10 x 10 km – referring to the official survey grid. In the Winsen/Walle area, no more than 15 km away from our base at Gut Sunder, the teams found and sampled two wolf scats for further analysis. We also checked camera traps that have been set up 1 km North of Gut Sunder before the expedition started. Three pictures show evidence of wolf but are not approved yet. In five more cells we found hints of tracks, etc. and we will send more teams to these locations hoping to verify and hopefully find more – preferably – fresh scat. 😉
Our plan for next week will include a night in a tent for four team members willing to survey an area that is further up in the North-East. We will also continue some of the surveys on bike. Keep your fingers crossed that the weather will allow for it.
Those coming on later slots please note that you don’t need to bring a cycle helmet as mentioned in the dossier. We have purchased four helmets you can use but if you prefer to bring your own feel free to do so. And also, contrary to the dossier you don’t need to bring a bath towel. We will provide one small and one big towel at base.
Thank you team 1 for being trailblazers on this expedition, for all your feedback, comments, hard work and good moods. It’s been a great pleasure for Peter and I to meet you. We hope you’ve enjoyed the week as much as we did.
Team 2, see you all later today at our meeting point at Bremen airport.
Our pre-expedition shopping spree and preparations are done. Tomorrow we will drive everything into the mountains and set up base camp. It was over 30 C in Bishkek again today, but the forecast is for the mountains for tomorrow is rain, and snow higher up. It would be our first time setting up in snow. On Sunday, some of us will come back for some last-minute shopping and tying up lose ends, and of course to collect Group 1 on Monday.
So now it’s time to introduce you to Volodya (scientist), Amadeus (expedition leader), Aman & Shiloo (from the NABU anti-poaching ‘Grupa Bars’ = group snow leopard). Sadly missing is the most important person of the expedition, our cook Gulia (Aman’s wife).
Here’s our first diary entry from Bishkek. It’s in the 30s C here, so hot and sunny. The mountains will be a relief. As you can see, we’re getting ready for you and we hope your preparations are going as well as ours 😉 Safe travels, group 1. We’ll see you at the Futuro 08:00 on Monday.
We’re almost through with setting up, the film team from VOX hundkatzemaus has come and gone and the sun is shining today. Over the next couple of days, we’ll get a feel for the lay of the land, take some pictures and videos and put the finishing touches to the expedition. I hope your preparations are going well too. We’ll be ready for group 1 on Saturday.
Welcome to the Germany wolf expedition diary for 2017. My name is Malika Fettak and I will be your expedition leader for the next month or so.
I am sending this from our expedition base at NABU Gut Sunder, where we arrived last night to set up. “We” is myself, our founder and executive director Dr. Matthias Hammer – who is here for a few days to help us get started – as well as Tessa Merrie, another member of the Biosphere Expeditions staff. Our expedition scientist, Peter Schuette, joined us this morning and together we have spent the day unpacking all the equipment, setting it out, going through data sheets, pouring over maps and discussing surveys routes and areas, meeting the cook (the most important person on the expedition ;), etc.
Peter and Matthias will be out for the next couple of days with a TV crew and Tessa and I will finish odds and ends. We’ll send another update or two over the week and then we all look forward to seeing group 1 on Saturday at Bremen airport.