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

Tomas has sent in some more results of our camera traps.

First from the wolf carcass camera where this year’s expedition found a dead deer (probably killed by a single wolf). Apparently there were a lot of pictures of foxes and pine martens, but in the middle of March a really big bear also started to check the carcass.

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The other pictures are from traps placed on the ridge close to lake Blatne.There is a really nice example of a wolf hunting with first deer and two minutes later a wolf passing the trap. With your help we have found that this location is very good for camera-trapping wolves.

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

Tomas tells us that the camera trap that we placed on 14 Feb has taken some excellent pictures of lynx between 16 and 17 Feb. Have a look at the brilliant short video

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

Well, for another year the Slovakia lynx, wolf and wildcat expedition is coming to a close :(. We have had a great time and it was sad to see slot two leave on the train to Bratislava this morning.

We covered a total of 280 km, a massive effort! Slot 1 covered 120 km and 24 cells, slot 2 covered 160 km and 19 cells. Over the two weeks we collected seven samples of wolf urine, one wolf hair sample and four lynx urine samples. We managed to track the movements of both wolf and lynx through two national parks, finding four definite lynx tracks and three wolf tracks. We have put camera traps on six carcasses and in four other locations. It is best not to disturb the camera trap areas for a while now, so Tomas will check them in a few weeks for results. Watch this space for updates from Tomas in due course.

We would like to thank everyone for the effort they have put in. Remember that without you, none of these data would be collected and no reports would get written up. Next to nothing about the wolf and lynx populations in the Veľká and Mala Fatra national parks was known until only a couple of years ago. With your help and through our long-term research, we are changing this slowly over the years with the ultimate aim of reducing human-wildlife conflict and to create a sustainble future for wolves, lynx, humans and other wildlife in this beautiful part of Slovakia.

Thank you also to our local friends and helpers Franitsek and others, as well as Swarovski Optik and Land Rover for their support of the expedition. It is great to have all of us pulling in one direction together.

Swarovski Optik in action

Swarovski Optik in action

Land Rover in action

Land Rover in action

Thanks again, have a safe trip back and we hope to see you again sometime!

Adam, Peter, Tomas and Milos

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

We are just about to head out on the last day of surveying. We all have tired legs, but we are ready for one last push! Yesterday was the most eventful day yet on the expedition with clear signs of lynx and wolf, as well as carcasses in the valleys. It seems the wolves are hungry after a week of difficult hunting in deep snow. Tomas’s group spent a gruelling day yesterday tracking a wolf pack through thick forest eventually finding a carcass lying beside as stream.

Fresh wolf kill

Fresh wolf kill

Lynx tracks were found on Wednesday and yesterday. Milos, John and Helen found lynx kill in the neighbouring Mala Fatra national park, as well as signs of wolf activity. Yesterday afternoon we were busy placing a camera trap on the carcass by the river, so we will see if the wolves re-visited it last night.

Carnivore activity - guess who...

Carnivore activity – guess who…

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

Training day. Everybody found their way around the GPS, compass and the snowshoes ready for this morning when we start again with data collection. Yesterday afternoon the whole team also went on a short survey in the national park to find its feet and check a camera trap. Later in the day we swung by a local village famous for its traditional Slovak rural buildings. Minus three was the maximum temperature yesterday and it is set to get colder. This is fine with us, considering our research efforts were hampered by rain last week.

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

After training our team up on the research gear and methodology on Sunday and Monday, we split into three snowshoe teams on Tuesday. Like last year Milos took a team high up to a ridge finding two carcasses and a possible lynx track. Tomas’  team was fooled by tracks of possibly wolves or dogs – no one can tell! Tracking is really hard at the moment, though, as there is lots of fresh snow, which melts quickly as we have temperatures around zero. A little colder if it snows, a little warmer if it doesn’t.

In the evening our host Frantisek served us another delicious meal and we were then treated to his international potpourri of songs on the guitar.

On Wednesday we spilt up into four teams, again under difficult conditions as it startet snowing just as we left base. It’s hard to find tracks, but great to be out in this white wilderness.

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

Watch your hosts as safe drivers, wind-challenged weather forecasters, shameless base camp promoters (with excessive use of the word “lovely” 😉 and efficient field biologists.

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

We have arrived at base and are now setting everything up. The equipment is all sorted and we’ll go to set up some camera traps in a second.

Peter being all efficient with the equipment

Peter being all efficient with the equipment

Our host Frantisek made us feel very welcome and has not batted an eyelid at our many strange requests, such as another big table for all the equipment. It’ll be a squeeze into the house, but we’ll manage. Be prepared for cosy room-sharing just like during those good old youth hostel times!

Man about the house, Frantisek

Man about the house, Frantisek

There was plenty of snow when we arrived, but since then a lot of heavy rain. Freezing temperatures are forecast from Saturday onwards again, though.

We’ve also had a meeting with Ivan (the head of the Forestry Departement) to get our permits and support if needed.

Adam will be waiting for you on Sunday morning at 09:15 at Bratislava train station. Our phones work and are as previously advertised.

See you soon.

Peter & Adam

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

Just in time for Burns Night, we’re all ready and packed here in England and Germany. A video of Adam, who will be meeting trailblazing group 1 at Bratislava station, is below

There’s snow all across Europe (and for us that includes kicking and screaming bad body England), including Slovakia. Our next diary entry and tracking weather update will be from there. Safe travels to us on the long drive and to you for your trips to Bratislava.

Peter & Adam

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

Hello everyone and welcome to the first entry of the 2013 Slovakia diary. We’re Peter Schuette, your expedition leader, and Adam Stickler, Peter’s sidekick for our forthcoming Slovakia adventure.

We’re putting the finishing touches to the paperwork, the equipment has been packed, the cars are serviced and ready to roll, the snow has been falling to give us good tracking conditions and we’re looking forward to our time in Slovakia with our scientist Tomas.

We’ll meet in Germany in 9 days, pack up all the gear (see picture below) and then drive south and east to base five days ahead of you to set up. In case you are wondering what’s in all the boxes, it’s paperwork, scat collection kits, books, batteries, GPSs, etc. You can also see the walking poles, radios, a map, first aid pack (which we’ll hopefully never use) and lots of top-notch Swarovski Optik gear (which we’ll hopefully use lots) on there.

Kit

Kit

That’s it for now. We’ll be in touch again from Slovakia with more updates. See you there in due course.

Peter & Adam

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