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Biosphere Expeditions: blogs from the wildlife conservation frontline

Advancing wildlife conservation – for nature, not profit | Artenschutz fördern – damit Natur profitiert | Promouvoir la conservation de la vie sauvage – pour la nature, pas le profit

Update from our Arabian desert expedition / working holiday volunteering with oryx and wildcats in the United Arab Emirates (www.biosphere-expeditions.org/arabia)

It’s the morning of day four of the expedition. After a day and a half of training, the team did well to start collecting data on day two. By now all camera and live traps have been set and we are working our way around the 63 circular observation points (15 done already), filling in the random observations sheets (sightings thus far include Arabian oryx, Arabian and sand gazelle, Arabian hare, Arabian toad-headed agama, eagle owls, francolins, larks, shrikes, wheatears and more) and counting vegetation (lots of broom bushes, Sodom’s apples and ghaf trees) and fox dens.

We get up before sunrise, are out as the day dawns and back as the sun sets in an orange orb over the desert. Our camp in a ghaf tree grove echoes to the sounds of turtle doves who call this little oasis their home too. Yesterday we braved the winds and sand to push on with our work despite the stony grains crunching between our teeth. Last night it rained, but this morning looks calm and rosy as the morning rays bathe the sky in a pink hue over this beautiful, calm desert bubble, not far from the bustling machinations of commerce and development in Dubai. The food al Al Maha is great and since an army marches on its stomach, this army of citizen scientists is marching well.

Starting today, we will be checking our live traps daily (and the camera traps at the end of the week), continue to tick off circular observations (basically sitting on a dune and counting animals and vegetation for 30 minutes), check more fox dens and count other species of interest as we criss-cross the reserve in four teams all day.

More soon.

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Update from our Arabian desert expedition / working holiday volunteering with oryx and wildcats in the United Arab Emirates (www.biosphere-expeditions.org/arabia)

We’ve arrived and we’re unpacking, shopping, setting things up. The food that Al Maha kindly provide for us is great. The sun is shining, it’s warm during the day and not too cold during the night to sleep under the stars (but there are plenty of tents too).

Today we are working with Greg on the research side (I hope you’ve read the 2016 expedition report to set the scene for you) and tomorrow we are tying up loose ends. And then we’ll see you at the right place and time on Saturday morning. Safe travels to get you there.

In another piece of excellent news, we’re a finalist for the 2017 Tourism for Tomorrow Awards! That in itself is another great feather in our cap. Now wish us luck for the final round, which entails an assessor joining our team for the week, who will take part in the expedition as normal, as will a journalist from National Geographic, and they will both want to talk to the rest of the team, so be nice to them please 😉

See you soon!

Continue reading “Update from our Arabian desert expedition / working holiday volunteering with oryx and wildcats in the United Arab Emirates (www.biosphere-expeditions.org/arabia)”

Update from our Arabian desert expedition / working holiday volunteering with oryx and wildcats in the United Arab Emirates (www.biosphere-expeditions.org/arabia)

Hello and welcome to the first expedition diary entry of 2017, for our Arabia expedition to the Dubai Desert Conservation Reserve (DDCR). I am Matthias Hammer, founder and executive director of Biosphere Expeditions, and also your expedition leader for this expedition. Other key people are Greg Simkins, head of the DDCR and also our expedition scientists, as well as expedition leaders in training Tessa Merrie and Amadeus DeKastle.

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And then of course there’s you, the expedition team. There will be a full complement of 12 of you from the UAE, UK, USA, Germany, Belgium and Switzerland, as well as a journalist for National Geographic Traveller and an assessor from a major travel award, which I can’t tell you about yet, since there’s a news embargo until the shortlists are officially announced on 16 Jan. But suffice it to say that it’s great just to make it onto the shortlist, which in itself is a major feather in our awards cap.

But enough of this for now. Let’s focus on you all getting there and the work ahead.

I hope your preparations are going well and you are starting to get excited. Tessa and I will fly from Norwich in the UK via Amsterdam to Dubai on Tuesday and set things up with Greg, Tessa & Amadeus. Amadeus will be coming from Bishkek, the capital of Kyrgyzstan, and you will all be coming from Europe, the USA and the Middle East.

Once we are all together, we will follow the recommendations of the 2016 expedition report, which was published at the end of December. Do have a look at this to be prepared. The methodology we will use and the skills you will need are explained in the report and there is also a YouTube playlist with it. We will follow the cell methodology, use camera traps and GPSs, as well as binoculars and spotting scopes. You might also want to watch some sand driving technique videos on YouTube; there’s plenty of them and this is a good skill to have too.

I’ll be in touch again from Dubai (then also with my contact number there). Good preparations and safe travels. I look forward to meeting you all.

Regards

Matthias Hammer

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From our working holiday volunteering with leopards, caracals and Cape biodiversity in South Africa (www.biosphere-expeditions.org/southafrica)

Here are now the highlights of the photos and videos you all shared (thank you).


From our working holiday volunteering with leopards, caracals and Cape biodiversity in South Africa.

Update from our SCUBA diving volunteer opportunity & conservation holiday on the coral reefs of the Musandam peninsula, Oman (www.biosphere-expeditions.org/musandam)

Here is now a selection of the pictures that you have shared, thank you, as well as a video.


Update from our SCUBA diving volunteer opportunity & conservation holiday on the coral reefs of the Musandam peninsula, Oman.

Update from our citizen science volunteer project with elephants in Thailand

I have just finished the Thailand reconnaissance visit and we are now very close to confirming the expedition. The dates have changed a little (new dates are  23 – 31 October | 3 – 11 November 2017) and we still need some final quotes for services and to iron out a few final details, including the expedition contribution, but we are almost there.

The expedition page and briefing are ready save for the expedition contribution, which we want to have by the end of November at the latest. We will then tell everyone on the wait list first, so that they can be the first sign up on the expedition, before we launch it to the public a week or so later. If you are not on the wait list already, you can join it below, simply by submitting your e-mail (the form will do the rest).

 

Below are also a few videos and pictures from the site to give you a better idea of the expedition. These and links to more, as well as the briefing, are also on the expedition page.

I hope you are all getting excited. We certainly are and we look forward to updating you soon.

Best wishes

Dr. Matthias Hammer
Executive Director

 


Update from our citizen science volunteer project with elephants in Thailand

Update from our SCUBA diving volunteer opportunity & conservation holiday on the coral reefs of the Musandam peninsula, Oman (www.biosphere-expeditions.org/musandam)

We’re back in Dubai, Tessa’s and my pictures below have been uploaded to the Pictureshare site, lots of new fish videos are now on the indicator playlist, and there will be a press release about the expedition’s results tomorrow.

It has been a great week with an AWESOME team. You could have gone to Dubai just to shop, or on a lazy diving holiday or whatever, but instead you decided to put your time, energy and money into helping coral reef conservation. Thank you so much for this. And thank you to Jean-Luc, the crew of the MS Sindbad and everyone else who helps to make this expedition a success. We could not do this without you.

Safe travels home and I hope to see you again, some day, somewhere on this beautiful blue planet of ours.

Matthias