From our conservation holiday volunteering with lynx, wolves, bears and wildcats in the Carpathian mountains of Slovakia (http://www.biosphere-expeditions.org/slovakia)

On our last survey day on Friday the teams again walked more than 40 km overall, checking parts of the main valley, collecting some of the camera traps that were set on Tuesday, but also placing a couple more in promising spots, i.e. near a fresh wolf kill.

The snow conditions have worsened over the last few days. It’s been thawing during the day and freezing at night. In many places the snow is covered with a solid layer of ice, so fresh footprints and tracks are much more difficult to spot.

In the evening Tomas summed up the provisional results of the first week:

  • The teams walked a total of 173.5 km, covering 14 transects and surveying 15 cells of 2.5 x 2.5 km
  • 18 camera traps were set up
  • Five samples of our target species were collected for DNA analysis: Two bear scats, one lynx and one wolf urine as well as one wolf scat.
  • The teams recorded hazel grouse once, two golden eagles, otter four times and wildcat seven times. They also found 17 lynx, 47 wolf and an overwhelming number of 66 bear signs. Never before on this project (in February) have bears been that active.
  • Pictures of red deer, fox, pinemarten, squirrel and lynx were found on the cameras brought back to base (see pictures).

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It was almost midnight when we went to bed after a shot of Tatra tea or Frantisek’s homemade ginger/honey vodka. The week has gone so quickly!

Thank you everyone of team one, you’ve done a great job collecting a huge amount of data every single day on long distance walks equipped with snow shoes, clipboards and GPSs. Thank you so much for putting a lot into this project, which could not happen without you. It was a great pleasure to meet you all. Safe travels or enjoy your onward trip.

Team 2, I will meet you at Bratislava station at 9:00 on Sunday morning.

From our conservation holiday volunteering with lynx, wolves, bears and wildcats in the Carpathian mountains of Slovakia (http://www.biosphere-expeditions.org/slovakia).

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