After the usual initiation/training visit of the wolf centre, we welcomed them at our expedition base Gut Sunder and got straight into training mode. After a long first day, some still had energy left and went to explore the surroundings and birdlife. Sandra and Patricia even enjoyed observing bats and fireflies around one of the nearby lakes.
On Sunday morning we were woken up early by our local cuckoo and continued training. After lunch we went on a trial monitoring hike all together in the Meißendorf territory. Along a 5 km hike across heath and pine forest, the team scanned the paths and crossings for wolf evidence. Three possible wolf scats were recorded, photographed and sampled in line with our monitoring protocol, and we can now report: team 2 ready for wolf conservation work.
Our first week of intensive wolf monitoring in Germany has come to an end and we just said goodbye to a great and motivated team. These wildlife conservation expeditions are always full on – and perhaps partly because of this – they are truly rewarding in terms of research and data collection. Lotte and Peter worked quite late yesterday to go through all the evidence collected this week. This morning’s wrap-up presentation summed up nicely what a team of ten dedicated wolf volunteers can accomplish in just a short week:
Our wolf citizen scientists walked a total of 310 kilometres in no fewer than thirteen 10x10km grids in seven different wolf territories. These long hikes resulted in a total of 79 scats collected, 54 of which will go in the freezer for dietary analyses and of these 6 should in principle be suitable for DNA analyses. Twenty-five scats were considered too old. Lotte already started entering data in the official wolf monitoring database and experts will validate the information and decide which ones to process further.
On our last day of monitoring, Lotte and Eleanor had unique encounter in the Ebstorf wolf territory. While checking a junction for wolf evidence, Lotte checked all four paths with her binoculars and could see an animal off in the distance. As the individual headed in their direction, they could tell it was a wolf. They stood still, kept quiet but at a distance of 60-80 m the wolf noticed them, turned around and walked back along the path and into the forest. Half an hour later they found a fresh scat and clear footprints, completing the experience quite nicely with even more evidence and data to hopefully identify the individual and reveal further secrets of the local wolf pack.
We thank our wolf volunteers for their hard work and dedication, braving temperatures up to 32°C on long hikes to contribute to wolf conservation through citizen science data collection. We hope to see you again one day and we look forward to meeting our new team tomorrow.
As our advance team is getting ready in Bishkek or about to fly there, here are a few things for you expeditioners to prepare:
First, please remember to look at and study our terrestrial expedition methods guide. On that page, you will find a field guide (updated today), which you will need to have in the field with you, as well as other guides on plants and butterflies, as well as research methodology background papers and a video:
The most important thing you will need is the field guide. Please make sure that you have a digital or printed copy with you on the expedition.
We’ll be using new, fancy and complicated Garmin 700i and 66i GPS units. The more you can familiarise yourself with them ahead of the expedition, the easier you will find it to work with them in the mountains.
Our updated snow leopard expedition report with news of great successes of our community camera trapping group is now also online. Again, the more you know before you go, the better, but in a nutshell “The community camera trapping group in 2020 and 2021 demonstrated continued snow leopard presence through several snow leopard photo captures in several locations and found unconfirmed signs (scats, scrapes, tracks) at various locations. It is interesting to note that captures are increasing year-by-year, but there is insufficient data to tell whether this is a positive sign connected to snow leopard presence increasing in the study area.” With your help, we aim to find out.
So get ready, get excited and we will see you in the mountains in due course. This diary will now start in earnest and the next entry will be from Bishkek. See you there!