As 2011 lies ahead of us I feel like its time to reflect on our work over the last twelve months. 2010 has without a doubt been an extremely productive and I would say successful year and it has laid a solid foundation for the work that lies ahead. Some of our achievements would not have been possible without the help of the people that joined the last survivors team at different stages throughout 2010, particular thank you goes to Rebecca Morelle and Simon Hancock from the BBC, Cristina Secades from Imperial college and Rebecca Coe from London Zoo. All helped with different aspects of the project, namely raising public awareness, carrying out a social study and educational work respectively. Other people have also helped us tremendously throughout the year including Jose Rafael Paula Rosa (Journalist), Santiago Munoz (Servicio Geologico Nacional), Jake Kheel (Punta Cana Foundation) and Ivelisse Diaz Sosa (Head of the educational department at the national zoo). Also have a look at the “supporting organisations” part of the website to get an idea of the wide cross section of organisations that have engaged with the project. Not everyone who has helped is listed as yet and it’s worth highlighting the help we have received from the British Embassy in the Dominican Republic, particularly the ambassador Steve Fisher, Denise Ruiz and Scott Melling.
On the scientific survey front we have covered an incredible amount of ground thanks to the hard work of the whole team. I have no idea of how many kilometres we have trekked over the last year but it must be well over 1000. In December alone we walked over 90Km in Jaragua National Park (something those of you following us on facebook and/or twitter will know all about).
We have carried out standardised surveys in 181 randomly selected sites whilst along the way we have seen signs of solenodon and/or hutia in 358 different places across three national parks (have a look at the maps). It’s sad to think that Nicolas and Lleyo who helped us so much with our achievements have decided to move on, both for very different reasons. Nicolas because there was an increasing demand by photographers to help with their work and because of his responsibilities in caring for his families agricultural land. Lleyo on the other hand left because he found the on going field work quite physically demanding which it undoubtedly is. I have no doubt that he will be working with us when we need him in the future. Nicolas and Lleyos gift to the project was to train Ramon Espinal (“Moncho”) in their skills. Moncho has picked up the necessary skills very quickly and is already building on his knowledge. He is proving to be quite an amazing all rounder which means that with his energy and enthusiasm we should make just as much or more progress over the next 12 months.
Ros Kennerly (Reading University) will be joining us in the Dominican Republic in February to start her PhD research looking at how our two species use both natural and human altered landscapes. We will undoubtedly have many other visitors contributing to our work and we are looking forward to working with them all. We will be launching the infomercials produced by Daniela Rusowsky (Funk Productions) and the Spanish version of the website sometime in early 2011 we hope. The website is being translated thanks to the incredible hard work of our team of volunteer translators: Alejandra Oliver, Leah Berry and Desy Guerrero.
Lastly it just remains for me to thank you all for your continued support. Stick with us and watch as we progress with the plight of the Hispaniolan solenodon and hutia. Best wishes to you all for 2011.