Germany : Wolf monitoring rewarded

Update from our Germany wolf volunteer project

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.

Claudia and Pat entering data
Lotte checking datasheets
Alistair checking weather data
At the end of the last survey day
Wolf territory
Sybille braving hot weather
Thank you team 1
Continue reading “Germany : Wolf monitoring rewarded”

Germany : Wolf monitoring in full swing

Update from our Germany wolf volunteer project

On Monday our team set out to two different locations for a full day of wolf monitoring. Team Claudia and Stefan accompanied by Lotte set the first record returning to base with no less than eight scats. Our experienced team Sigi and Sylvia brought back the first fresh scat, suitable for DNA analysis. Like detectives on a mission, this set the tone to monitor as many locations as possible.

On Tuesday seven of us set out on an overnight trip to Göhrde, a 2-hour car ride north-east of our base. We were welcomed there by wolf commissioner Kenny at his beautiful bio-hotel, located in the middle of the forest. Once there, three teams walked a total of 75 km over two days (Tuesday and Wednesday) and managed to collect two samples for DNA and 23 for dietary analyses, much needed to assess the current situation of the local wolf pack. One of the highlights was stumbling upon the footprints of both adult wolves and their pups, truly exhilarating to see the evidence and realise you are walking in the middle of prime wolf territory!

In the meantime, closer to our expedition base, Alastair and Silvia joined Timo to check up on camera trap images on a wolf-proof fence put in place at a cattle farm. Lotte and Claudia braved the Naturistenweg (nudist walking trail), but kept their clothes firmly on 😉 Professional as they are, they stayed focused on the task at hand.

Our counter now is at 41 samples, including four good enough for DNA analysis, from five different wolf territories – and the team is ready for more. It is fun detective and wolf citizen science work in beautiful forests of spruce and pine, but also beach and oak, and heathlands interwoven with meadows. Also, there is plenty of wildlife around and between all of us we have seen foxes, roe deer, hare, red kite, cranes, newborn squirrels, a lonesome badger, staghorn beetles and many more.

Forest path
At work
At work
Relaxing at a lookout at the end of the day
Wolf tracks
Continue reading “Germany : Wolf monitoring in full swing”

Germany : Arrived, trained, ready

Update from our Germany wolf volunteer project

This Saturday we welcomed our first team of wolf volunteers at the Bremen assembly point. Half of the team are Biosphere Expedition returnees keen to get a taste of new expeditions or returning to familiar ones. The trio Sylvia, Siggi and Pat are true hardcore wolf fans, having joined all four expeditions our work here in wolf conservation in Germany started. The remainder of our team has also been really keen to get into expedition action. So, it’s fair to say we have got a truly motivated team to get the citizen science wolf monitoring 2022 up and running.

After meeting up in Bremen, we drove to the Wolfcenter Dörveden to learn more about (and see) our target species. From there we proceeded to the expedition base at Herrenhaus Gut Sunder for 36 h of intensive training and a series of talks by a great team of experts.

Our expedition scientist Peter gave us an introduction to the state wolf monitoring programme , the priority survey areas and actual field data collection protocols. His assistant Lotte enlightened us about everything you possibly want to know about wolf scats (and more). Expedition leader Malika trained us on GPS and radio use as well as other equipment. Ingrid from the Wolfsbüro underlined the importance of citizen science in gathering long term data on wolf populations to inform strategies for coexistence with a large predator. Theo, the first wolf commissioner of Lower Saxony and an excellent photographer, treated us to a stunning presentation of the Lüneburg Heath biodiversity and how everything in this ecosystem is connected. Finally, this Sunday afternoon we did a first trial in the field to test our newly developed skills along a 7 km hike in pine forests in 31°C. Today, Monday, surveying proper starts in earnest.

Learning about the wolf at the Wolfcenter
Scientist Peter on the area around base
Peter’s assistant Lotte on scat
Expedition leader Malika on equipment
Sylvia and Alastair on data collection training
Training
More training
Continue reading “Germany : Arrived, trained, ready”

Germany : Ready for you

Update from our Germany wolf volunteer project

Without further ado and in a sentence: We are ready for you – time to pull your weight.

Continue reading “Germany : Ready for you”

Germany : Advance team on site

Update from our Germany wolf volunteer project

We have slight staff overkill on this first full Germany wolf expedition for two years. There’s experienced leader Malika, training An to lead this expedition, our scientist Peter and our founder and executive director Matthias, who happens to be in the area.

There was not a cloud in the sky during the five hour drive up from our German office in Bavaria to our manor house expedition base in Lower Saxony, which sits there like nothing has happened and has done so since 1649. It will probably cloud over by the time you arrive on Saturday, but it should stay warm.

Entrance to the expedition base
Malika packing up

A word about the base: This is run by a charity that involves mentally challenged people as staff, for example those with Down syndrome, who are in the high risk group for Covid. Because of this, management have kindly asked us to wear masks inside when we are with staff, so please make sure you bring enough (for this purpose the thinner medical masks are fine).

About the charity that runs the expedition base
This morning at the expedition base

We’ll spend the next couple of days getting everything ready for you and report back once more before we meet group 1 at Bremen airport on Saturday.

Safe travels and we’ll see group 1 soon!

Continue reading “Germany : Advance team on site”
%d bloggers like this: