We are just recently back from our first expedition into Haiti where we were invited to join forces with the Darwin initiative project that is based out there. Our hosts, the Audubon Society of Haiti were amazingly welcoming and managed to get us to one of the most remote and beautiful corners of Haiti which is Massif de la Hotte in the south west. There are still some good (i.e. relatively untouched) areas of forest in this area although even in the brief time we were there we were witness to its destruction and removal. On one day we counted over 300 bags of charcoal and watched some of it being carried along the same treacherous routes we were using to get to the forest. The good news is that we did manage to see evidence of both solenodon and hutia in one valley we explored. There is undoubtedly a lot of work that can and should be done in Haiti. If we work together I’m sure we will be able to make a difference.
Our team has expanded once again since my last blog, albeit temporarily, with two masters students from Imperial college joining the project. They are currently collecting data that will be useful both for their individual research and for the last survivors project. Sarah Hoy is looking at how both species use different types of habitat in an area where we know they both exist. Rocío Pozo is looking at the type of habitats where solenodons have their dens and is building on the data that has already been collected by Ros Kennerley and the rest of the team. Ros has been kept incredibly busy radiotracking five solenodons – not easy work but she has done a fantastic job. The data she is collecting will give us an idea of the sort of area that they use and the distances they travel. In doing this work she has managed to identify more than 15 warrens where solenodons sleep during the day. Ros and the research assistants are also responsible for collecting some incredible night video footage of solenodon which we will share with you soon. Our research assistants have been learning a lot from Ros and are now also assisting the two masters students carry our their work.
We are now planning and actively seeking to expand into new areas where we have not worked before including the northern part of the Dominican Republic – we should have updates on this very soon.
Our knitted solenodons (mentioned in our previous blog) are proving very popular (there is an adoption waiting list) but we are yet to find a local community group that can create these. If anyone has any ideas on how you can help do let us know – basically we need to find someone who can train a group to produce the solenodons.
Our followers on twitter continue to grow and we now have over 100 people following our regular updates. There is also an increasing demand for us to give presentations about our work across the Dominican Republic: two booked in the next two weeks, one in Las Terrenas and one at the International Ecological Fair. Once we have our project infomercial on DVD (currently available on YouTube) we should be able to distribute this to people we can’t visit personally. The website is also proving very popular with, on average, over 1000 hits a month from across 58 countries. This success is no small part due to all your continued support – Thank you!