Earthwatch Institute

To engage people worldwide in scientific field research and education to promote the understanding and action necessary for a sustainable environment.
Mar 6, 2015

South Africa's Hyenas - 2014 Highlights

A hyena captured by camera trap
A hyena captured by camera trap

Thank you for supporting and following along with Earthwatch’s hyena conservation efforts in South Africa! Dr. Dawn Scott and her team will resume their research in Pilanesberg National Park with the help of Earthwatch volunteers from May  – November 2015. In the meantime, I’m pleased to share with you now some preliminary highlights from the 2014 data.

  • All volunteer teams collected the data that was needed and met their research objectives, using camera traps, large mammal transects, spotlight transects, latrine surveys and hours of dung beetle identification.

  • Camera traps were used to remotely monitor a denning site for a family of brown hyenas with at least four cubs.

  • Helped relocate a young brown hyena that was found roaming the suburbs of Johannesberg. Dr. Scott says, “This has highlighted further concerns of human-wildlife conflicts as a result of urban expansion, and wildlife in urban areas as well as in farmlands.”

  • Approximately 100 school children visited the volunteers at work and were taught about ecosystems and sustainability. In addition, 1,600 questionnaires were completed by children in local schools to measure their opinions towards carnivores and to help understand what effects children’s attitudes.

In addition to informing Dr. Scott’s research, papers and information collected are also submitted to the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) hyena specialist group to aid international dissemination and species assessment.

None of this data collection would be possible without the ongoing support you provide as a concerned conservationist. On behalf of our scientists, volunteers and staff, thank you again for all that you do for Earthwatch and for hyena rescue. We look forward to sharing more results and updates after the 2015 fielding season begins in May!

Sincerely,

Heather Wilcox
Director of Annual Giving & Advancement Services

P.S. Remember, you don’t just have to read about this research from afar… you can participate in it directly as a volunteer! Our 2015 teams are still accepting volunteers. Visit South Africa’s Hyenas to learn more about daily life in the field as a biologist, or to reserve your spot as a volunteer today!

Setting a camera trap
Setting a camera trap
Scavenging captured by camera trap
Scavenging captured by camera trap
Examining a scavenger bird
Examining a scavenger bird

Links:

Mar 6, 2015

Tracking Bahamas' Sea Turtles - 2014 Highlights

Surveying for turtles in mangroves
Surveying for turtles in mangroves

Thank you for supporting and following along with Earthwatch’s sea turtle conservation efforts in the Bahamas! Dr. Annabelle Brooks and her team will resume their research off Cape Eleuthera with the help of Earthwatch volunteers from June – November 2015. In the meantime, I’m pleased to share with you now some preliminary highlights from the data collected in 2014:

  • 92 volunteers helped tag 172 turtles (including 88 NEW turtles) across 7 foraging locations. They also conducted 60 abundance surveys (plotting turtles using GPS), and 199 baited remote underwater video surveys (BRUVS).

  • The BRUVS captured at least six different species of sharks, which are known to prey on turtles.

  • Close to 1,000 data points were collected as part of a habitat mapping project, which will be used to create high resolution maps of all research sites.

  • All turtles that had been captured before were captured in the same site as their first capture. Dr. Brooks says, “It has been remarkable to observe how attached they are to specific areas… This highlights how important it is to understand the dynamics within foraging grounds, and also how critical this habitat is for their survival.”

In addition to providing data for Dr. Brooks’ research, Tracking Sea Turtles in the Bahamas also contributes conservation-relevant data for the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List of Threatened Species, which includes the endangered green turtle and the critically endangered hawksbill turtle.

None of this data collection would be possible without the ongoing support you provide as a concerned conservationist. On behalf of our scientists, volunteers and staff, thank you again for all that you do for Earthwatch and for sea turtle rescue. We look forward to sharing more results and updates after the 2015 fielding season begins in June!

Sincerely,

Heather Wilcox
Director of Annual Giving & Advancement Services

P.S. Remember, you don’t just have to read about this research from afar… you can participate in it directly as a volunteer! Our 2015 teams are still accepting volunteers. Visit Tracking Sea Turtles in the Bahamas to learn more about daily life on the ocean as a turtle biologist, or to take the plunge and reserve your spot as a volunteer today!

A volunteer assists with flipper tagging
A volunteer assists with flipper tagging
Spotting turtles
Spotting turtles

Links:

Mar 4, 2015

2014 Highlights From the Majete Wildlife Reserve

Shire Valley
Shire Valley

Thank you for supporting and following Earthwatch’s African wildlife conservation efforts in Malawi! Dr. Alison Leslie and her team will resume their research in Majete Wildlife Reserve with the help of Earthwatch volunteers from June  – December 2015. In the meantime, I’m pleased to share with you now some preliminary highlights from the data collected in 2014:

  • For the first time, a hyena was radio collared in Malawi.
  • Findings from first-ever camera trap use in Majete have confirmed the presence of elusive caracal, serval and civets (medium-sized carnivores); and many more hyena than previously thought. Dr. Leslie says, “This is an exciting find as hyenas were never re-introduced into the park and must be animals that survived the human poaching onslaught in the 80’s and 90’s.”
  • Camera traps also helped with the identification and arrest of two poachers.
  • Black rhino monitoring was ramped up to include ear notching of newborn rhinos that will reduce the chance of mistaken identities during monitoring, and provide genetic samples to build baseline data on the health of rhino populations.
  • Fixed-point photographs taken at 57 sites were used to update Majete vegetation maps from the early 90’s.
  • Radio collars were removed from leopards that had been collared as juveniles and had outgrown them.
  • Environmental education outreach programs grew, including volunteer visits to schools, and school children visits to the reserve.

None of this data collection would be possible without the ongoing support you provide as a concerned conservationist. On behalf of our scientists, volunteers and staff, thank you again for all that you do for Earthwatch and for African wildlife rescue. We look forward to sharing more results and updates after the 2015 fielding season begins in June!

Sincerely,

Heather Wilcox
Director of Annual Giving & Advancement Services

P.S. Remember, you don’t just have to read about this research from afar… you can participate in it directly as a volunteer! Our 2015 teams are still accepting volunteers. Visit Animals of Malawi in the Majete Wildlife Reserve to learn more about daily life in the field as a wildlife biologist, or to reserve your spot as a volunteer today!

Elephant herd in the reserve
Elephant herd in the reserve
Setting a camera trap
Setting a camera trap

Links:

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