Since my last post, way back in October, I have been doing quite a bit of volunteering for various people. From finding dormice, selling membership and standing in a very stinky pond in the pouring rain trying to find New Zealand Pygmyweed (which as the name suggests is very small!).
Recently I have started volunteering for NatureSpy as a camera trap volunteer! NatureSpy is a social enterprise non-profit organisation aiming to teach people about the species in their area by trapping them on remote sensing cameras. I am a volunteer for the DeeScover Project where we are trying to find species such as black grouse, pole cats and otters in North East Wales, as of yet we have visited 2 sites and more sites will be visited throughout 2017! So hopefully we will get some interesting results 🙂
My most recent volunteering adventure was clearing NZ Pygmyweed from the pond at Ty Hyll. Ty Hyll is owned and managed by staff and volunteers of the Snowdonia Society. NZ pygmyweed is invasive and it was definitely starting to take over the pond which was built to be species rich and attract species such as frogs, newts and water vole into the area. Clearing the pond involved standing waist deep in stinky water in very attractive waders in the pouring rain! But that’s Wales for you! 🙂
Tasmanian Devils (Sarcophilus harisii) is the largest carnivorous marsupial surviving today. This species feeds on carrion and is native to Tasmania, Australia. The species was once thriving in Tasmania with an estimated 150,000 individuals but the population decreased and became contracted after European Settlers arrived on Tasmania. And with the people and the reduced gene pool came Devil Facial Tumour Disease (DFTD)!
DFTD is an infective facial cancer which has devastating effects on the Tasmanian devil population with reduction in the region of 60-90%. It was believed that DFTD would lead to the extinction of the Tasmanian Devil in the short term. Now scientists have found that there is a small population of Tasmanian devil that have some evidence of immunity. If immunity is found in other populations it would demonstrate substantial evolution in a short period of time (since the disease was detected in 1996) and could reverse the effects of DFTD. It was once believed that the extinction of this species was coming but the news that there could be natural immunity gives hope to the species. Along with the immunised released individuals this could be very good news for the Tasmanian Devil! This would also be a shining example of an animal saving itself from what was ultimately a human induced extinction event!
Today, the 18th October, is the first ever World Okapi Day! The Okapi is an endangered species found in the African rainforest and it is the closest living relative of giraffes.
This species is little known which is why the Okapi Conservation Project started the World Okapi day to promote the conservation and knowledge of this beautiful creature. The species is so elusive in the wild that it wasn’t formally discovered until 1901 and it has become the umbrella species in the Congo. The Okapi is threatened by deforestation as it is reliant on rainforest cover for survival. If the Okapi is protected and thus the forest is protected other species such as elephants, chimpanzees and gorillas will also be protected.
The Okapi Conservation Project list a number of ways that we can all help on their website:
- Visit your nearest zoo with Okapi (my nearest zoo with Okapi is Chester zoo which has a wonderful collection of animals and does great work for conserving species http://www.chesterzoo.org/explore-the-zoo/animals/mammals/hoofed-animals/okapi )
- Tell your friends and family about Okapi (do they know what an Okapi is? If not this is your chance to tell them about this uniquely beautiful animal)
- Post your best okapi photos on social media (don’t forget to hashtag #OkapiConservation #WorldOkapiDay )
- Change your social media cover photo (see the options on the Okapi Conservation Projects facebook page 🙂 https://www.facebook.com/okapiconservationproject/?ref=br_rs )
- Recycle your old mobile phone (coltan, found in mobile phones, is mined in rainforests so recycling can prevent further exploitation of the Okapi’s home)
- Donate to Okapi Conservation Project 🙂
- Host your own Okapi Awareness event (let your imagination go wild!)
If you would like to learn more about Okapi’s please visit the Okapi Conservation Project website and IUCN red list.
I have recently just finished my masters and I am just waiting for the dreaded results. I am now volunteering and trying to find a job. Finishing my masters has also meant I have actually been able to check my wildlife camera for the first time in months. Seeing all the foxes and badgers did make me happy until I saw a grey squirrel. Why did the grey squirrel upset me? Well it probably has something to do with having sat watching a feeder for five days hoping for a grey squirrel to appear so that the behaviour of greys could be compared with the behaviour of reds. During the five days, no grey squirrels were seen anywhere near the area and then about week after I handed my dissertation in I see the distinctive grey squirrel on my camera! That squirrel is not my friend!
I love my camera and I have now also seen what I assume is a heron, it is hard to tell as it was a rainy day and the animal in question did not look very happy about that, and a buzzard. I have a few more volunteer events booked to do and I will write more soon 🙂
I was volunteering with the North Wales Wildlife Trust with the Dawn from Living Seas. Seas worldwide are in trouble and the vision of the NWWT is to once again see a thriving and species diverse seas on the coasts of Wales and beyond.
The project focuses on public engagement encouraging people of all ages to see what they have and can find on our local coasts. I thoroughly enjoyed learning about all of the species found there myself and I am excited to volunteer with them again. I was able to go on some rock pooling sessions to see what we all could find! Lion Maned Jellyfish and shore crabs were spotted which were the highlight for me. The Living Seas team work hard to put plenty of events suitable for all ages to learn and engage with the coasts around them. All the events can be seen on the North Wales Wildlife Trust website.
Other than attending events there are plenty of ways we can all try and help revitalise our seas 🙂
1. Take all your litter home and put it in the bin: Litter commonly finds its way into our waterways which can be very harmful for marine life. If you dispose of it correctly you could prevent unnecessary suffering of our marine wildlife globally. It is incredibly simple and you could save a life 🙂
2. Reduce your carbon footprint: climate change is causing excess carbon to be stored in our seas which is essentially causing acidification. This is killing off many species including coral reefs which supports 25% of marine biodiversity. Reducing your carbon footprint may help in the fight against climate change and save any of the remaining coral reefs we have left 🙂
3. Volunteer to help clean your coastlines: why not try a bit of volunteering like I have been doing to help litter pick or clean up your local beaches. It is a great way to get involved and meet like-minded people 🙂
I am at week 8 or 9 of data collection, I can’t really remember, it feels like I have been watching bird feeders willing for red squirrels and birds to come for ever! The red squirrels have been very quiet recently but I think I’ll put that down to the terrible weather we have been having here in North west Wales and the ill timing of some extreme gardening involving power tools. I will soon be finished with data collection and will have to bite the bullet and do statistics. There is nothing I dislike doing more than stats! Too many numbers, too many words that make no sense, too much output that even with help I can’t interpret. Well… good luck to me 🙂
As mentioned previously I have bought a wildlife camera and I have some wonderful videos of a red fox which unfortunately I cannot share on here as I can only add photos. I love seeing what wildlife we have here because although I knew there were foxes and badgers you don’t often get to see them. My dad has been lucky enough to see a badger when he had to go to a fire call at the three in the morning but otherwise sightings are few and far between.
As mentioned in my last post, I have recently been bought a wildlife camera which has come! At uni, we were given a camera to set up and we had to write a report and were assessed on our camera trap set up abilities and report writing skills. During the 6 weeks that camera was up the camera caught numerous squirrels, pigeons, pheasants, rabbits, a few badgers and deer but never any foxes much to my dismay! Well I can now finally say I have a photograph of a fox caught on a camera trap at my house! 🙂 The fox was the only thing captured but that is more likely due to the placement of the camera as there is evidence of foxes and badgers being in the area and there are countless birds and grey squirrels around and about. I am excited to see what else might be lurking on our land 🙂
As well as the camera, I attended a dormouse ecology and training day on Friday organised by the North Wales Wildlife Trust. It was a very informative and interesting including a practical to show us how to check dormouse nest boxes safely and how to differentiate between a dormouse nest, a wood mouse nest and a birds nest. I am still doing field work for my masters research project which has been hitting a few potholes at the moment but hopefully it will all sort itself out this week 🙂