Update from our monitoring expedition studying wolves in Lower Saxony, Germany

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 …


Update from our monitoring expedition studying wolves in Lower Saxony, Germany

24 June

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.


From our snow leopard volunteering expedition in the Tien Shan mountains of Kyrgyzstan

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).

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Update from our monitoring expedition studying wolves in Lower Saxony, Germany

Expedition scientist Peter Schuette (left), Diana Eichhorn of VOX TV (middle) and Matthias Hammer of Biosphere Expeditions with the film team.

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.



Update from our monitoring expedition studying wolves in Lower Saxony, Germany

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.

Safe travels!


The expedition all packed up and ready to drive to base
Malika Fettak and Peter Schuette
Setting up the research equipment
Expedition base
Expedition base

Update from our conservation holiday protecting leatherback and other sea turtles on the Caribbean coast of Costa Rica

The last few days of the expedition have been busy! Teams from the night patrols have been bringing eggs back to the hatchery every night. Rosalyn and Frank encountered a turtle with missing back flippers “We had to help her dig the nest” says Rosalyn, “they have apparently encountered her before and her nickname is stumpy.” Leatherback turtles come ashore to lay eggs six to eleven times in a season, but only nest approximately every three years.

“It was magical to watch turtles emerge from the waves and then to see how delicately they use their back flippers to dig a nest” says expeditioner Lindsay. And further “its a real thrill to be there when the eggs drop into the bag for us to take them away to bury them safely in the hatchery. I am so happy, I can’t stop smiling”.

However, we also experienced nests being taken by poachers One tried to dig out a nest that was really close to sea. “He was trying to prevent water entering the nest” describes Neil. But it is not all bad news, because the coast guard arrived and arrested three poachers and gave us the eggs from two poached nests. “This is a big win all around as it not only means we can hatch poached nests, but it also send a message to other poachers that the coast guard does patrol this beach” says expedition scientist Fabian from LAST.

During our time at the LAST research station our team of Biosphere Expeditions citizen scientists put in 60 hours of patrolling the beach and 30 hours guarding the hatchery. During our time here, 18 nests were saved, totalling 1397 eggs. Eight nest were poached, however, the arrests made by the coast guard brought that number down to six and raised our nests saved to 20, resulting in approximately 25% of nests being poached. This is a significant improvement on last year’s 50% poaching rate and a win for conservation.

We could not do this without our citizen scientist volunteers putting in the time and effort, so thank you very much everyone. It was a joy to lead this expedition and I look forward to meeting many of you again sometime, somewhere on our planet, which needs all the help with wildlife and wilderness conservation it can get.

Eilidh spotting birds on the beach
One of the wooden markers on the beach that gives the location of where you are. Used for recording location of nesting turtles.
Lindsay and Sandip on a wildlife boat trip spotting monkeys and birds
Rosalyn and Valeria making nest baskets for the hatchery
Daily debrief by Fabian, the LAST scientist from Mexico
The Biosphere Expeditions team by the hatchery