We have met up with Greg to discuss this year’s science objectives, logistics and methodology of the data collection. Greg has managed the DDCR for over 15 years, so has an impressive knowledge of the area and has been instrumental in the development of the wildlife conservation interest of the reserve, including species re-introductions and re-vegetation by planting of shrub and tree species.
Our plan is to split into three groups of three surveyors for each day’s field work and each group will survey three quadrants per day. The reserve is divided into 45 main quadrants, each of which is 2 x 2 km. Our goal is to survey all 45 quadrants during the course of the expedition, so our data will be comparable with previous years. This will be tough this year as we have fewer people, so we need all hands on deck, working hard please!
The first job of each survey day will be to check if any of live traps have been successful. Then we will undertake wildlife counts from an observation point at the middle of each quadrant, followed by checking of fox dens to record their status (active, inactive or abandoned). We will record any other sightings that are made of our nine target species whilst driving in the reserve between our observation points. On Sunday we will set up our 18 camera traps and check these for results at the end of the expedition. Our main hope with these is to record the more elusive species such as Gordon’s wildcat and sand fox.
The weather at base camp has been very comfortable, pleasantly cool in the evenings and mornings, not lower than 10C at night, with clear skies for star-gazing at night and desert gazing during the day.
We are looking forward to meeting the team on Saturday morning (09:00 in the lobby of the Premier Inn). Once at the DDCR, there will be introductions (to each other and the research), teaching of survey skills and methodologies and some training in off-road driving skills and an opportunity to practice.
Safe travels to Dubai and we’ll see you all soon! Here are some pictures to get you in the mood: