Earthwatch Institute

To engage people worldwide in scientific field research and education to promote the understanding and action necessary for a sustainable environment.
Dec 23, 2014

Reintroduced Wildlife Still Thriving in Malawi

Thank you for following Earthwatch’s wildlife conservation efforts in Malawi! With your support, Dr. Alison Leslie and her team have just concluded their second year of research in the Majete Wildlife Reserve - 700 square kilometers of protected area at the southern end of Malawi, in Shire Valley. Since this study began in June 2013, 16 teams totaling 83 volunteers have traveled to “the Land of the Lake” to be a part of one of the first research initiatives in the reserve. Research activities conducted each fielding season include:

-          Tracking wildlife, on foot or from a vehicle, during the day and by spotlight at night, to obtain counts and locations of elephants, rhinos, lions, antelopes and other wildlife.

-          Monitoring camera traps - mounted cameras that automatically photograph anything that passes by.

-          Documenting and comparing wild vegetation throughout the park to plants growing in exclosure plots (small, fenced-in study areas that keep herbivores out).

-          Cataloguing and analyzing data.

-          Visiting local schools, to help teach the children about the importance of conservation.

The data collected is being used to gain a better understanding of how reintroduced species are faring in the reserve, and what management decisions are needed to keep critical predator-prey relationships in balance. Since 2003, more than 2,500 animals from 14 different species have been reintroduced to Majete. Thriving wildlife benefits ripple far beyond the park, as they attract tourism, that creates jobs, provides income and inspires the protection of additional habitat. Healthy ecosystems, in turn, provide food, clean water, nutrient cycling and other natural services to the community. When a species reaches its maximum sustainable population size in Majete, additional animals will be relocated to other national parks and wildlife reserves also devastated by poaching and habitat destruction.

Dr. Leslie will resume her research in 2015 from June – December with another eight teams of 6 Earthwatch volunteers each. We are very excited to be able to watch this project and its data unfold for another year, knowing that the information we collect is helping to protect Africa’s iconic species from extinction.

Thank you again for your interest in and support of Animals of Malawi in the Majete Wildlife Reserve. Continued success at Majete will provide a global model for how a reserve can successfully conserve biodiversity and sustain natural resources, benefit the economy and neighboring communities, and still be financially viable.

Wishing you a festive holiday and a healthy, happy and sustainable new year!

Sincerely,


Heather Wilcox
Director of Annual Giving & Advancement Services

Questions about your donations? Want to learn more about Earthwatch's research in Malawi? Email any time: hwilcox@earthwatch.org.

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Dec 16, 2014

South Africa's Hyenas - Research Update

Local landowners often consider hyenas to be pests
Local landowners often consider hyenas to be pests

Thank you for following Earthwatch’s hyena conservation program in South Africa! With your support, Dr. Dawn Scott and her team have just concluded their ninth year of research in the African savannah, to the northwest of Johannesburg, South Africa.

Since our last report, another 13 teams of 95 total volunteers have joined Dr. Scott in the field to collect data on hyenas and other scavenger species, which are often misunderstood but play crucially important roles in maintaining overall ecosystem health by sustaining biodiversity and reducing disease. People tend to regard scavengers with disdain and subject them to harmful treatment. Only small regions of South Africa are protected, so most scavengers live in unprotected areas where they are subject to persecution. The loss of these species could have serious consequences for the surrounding ecosystems.

Fewer than 1,700 free-ranging brown hyenas remain in South Africa. To ensure their survival, we must understand the ecology of wildlife in unprotected compared with protected areas. Under Dr. Scott’s guidance, Earthwatch volunteers will try to answer these questions by:

  • Hiking to survey wildlife, looking for tracks, droppings (which help researchers find out what animals eat), dens, and other traces of wildlife.
  • Monitoring camera traps - mounted cameras that automatically photograph anything that passes by.
  • Tracking animals at night, by spotlight to count predators like lions, leopards, and other carnivores.
  • Trapping and studying dung beetles. (Dung beetles play a key role in ecosystems and can indicate the health of mammal populations in an area; their diversity is closely linked with the diversity of mammal species).
  • Visiting schools, to help educate local communities on the importance of protecting scavenger species.

Dr. Scott will resume her research in 2015 from May – November with another four teams of 14 Earthwatch volunteers each. We are very excited to be able to watch this project and its data unfold for another year, knowing that the information we collect is helping to protect the brown hyena from further decline.

Thank you again for your interest in and support of South Africa’s Hyenas. Progress like this could never be possible without the generosity of passionate conservationists like YOU.

Wishing you a festive holiday and a healthy, happy and sustainable new year!

Sincerely,

Heather Wilcox
Director of Annual Giving & Advancement Services

Have questions about your donations, or about this report? Want more information about Earthwatch's hyenas conservation efforts? Email me any time at hwilcox@earthwatch.org.

Camera traps record any animal that passes by.
Camera traps record any animal that passes by.
Hyenas compete with large carnivorous cats.
Hyenas compete with large carnivorous cats.
Black-backed jackals are also threatened.
Black-backed jackals are also threatened.
Analyzing scat to find out what animals eat.
Analyzing scat to find out what animals eat.
African wild dogs are endangered large carnivores.
African wild dogs are endangered large carnivores.
Sep 9, 2014

Earthwatch Sea Turtle Conservation Exceeds Goal!

“Swimming With Sea Turtles in the Bahamas” kicked off its 2014 research season on February 13th with a team of 9 spirited and eager volunteers who travelled to Cape Eleuthera to help Dr. Annabelle Brooks collect data on the endangered green and hawksbill sea turtles. At the time of our last report, in June, we were expecting just over 60 volunteers to participate throughout the season. However, I’m thrilled to report that we’ve already surpassed this number, and now expect that more than 90 volunteers will have  contributed to this research by the time Dr. Brooks concludes her field research for the year, in mid-November!

In addition to a well-earned break for the holidays, Dr. Brooks will spend the months that follow analyzing the data that was collected. We will be sure to share those outcomes with you as soon as they become available in 2015.

Although Earthwatch volunteers do contribute financially to the research they participate in, the cost of scientific equipment, permits and licenses, and 24/7 support staff quickly exceeds what we can reasonably ask them to contribute on top of their time and labor. This is why donors like YOU are so critical to Earthwatch’s success! Your proactive gifts bridge this funding gap and make it possible to conduct world class citizen science research in nearly 30 countries around the world.

Your support also allows Earthwatch to make multi-year commitments to innovative new studies and to highly skilled, emerging scientists that are often overlooked by other funders. In 2015, Earthwatch will debut ten new expeditions! That’s ten new scientists, dozens more species, and hundreds more volunteers who will join the fight to create a sustainable future – all made possible only because of generous gifts like yours.  

Thank you for your ongoing interest in and support of Earthwatch’s turtle conservation in the Bahamas! None of this work would be possible without the commitment and generosity of donors like you!

Sincerely,

Heather Wilcox
Director of Annual Giving & Advancement Services
hwilcox@earthwatch.org

Links:

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