Since I am leaving on holiday tomorrow and will not be back for a while I thought it best to give you a quick update on what’s been happening over the last few weeks. As always there is a lot to tell you about although I am going to be quick since I should really start organizing and packing my stuff quite soon! We have had a second spell of exploring the northern part of the Dominican Republic with a visit to Las Terrenas where we had the opportunity to both give a talk at the local town hall and also explore a small area of private forest. This was all thanks to Colmar Andreas Serra from Ecotopia who both invited us and organized the whole visit. It was great to share our work with an eager audience who had lots of questions for us. Unfortunately our search of Ecotopia did not show up any signs of solenodon or hutia but our visit was brief and we hope to return to explore more widely. Sticking to the north, we have also had initial meetings with Fundacion Loma Quita Espuela who we hope to collaborate with in our work in the area where they are based. This is all thanks to the funds from the BBC wildlife fund – you can find out about it here.
The majority of the scientific work that has been going on since our last update is down to our intrepid postgraduate students (Ros Kennerley, Sarah Hoy and Rocio Pozo) who have been working really hard along with the research assistants. Their work is winding down now and will be completed in the next week or so – expect a full report on results very soon.
We had the real honor of inviting two biologists (Anderson and Enold) from the Audubon Society of Haiti (SAH) to the same village where this work has been going on (Mencia) in order to get firsthand experience and training on all aspects of our work. This type of collaboration between the two Darwin projects and between organizations in the DR (Sociedad Ornitologica de la Hispaniola – SOH) and Haiti (SAH) is absolutely essential in order to create effective and sustainable conservation action on an island wide scale. During Enold and Andersons visit the local kids were very curious about what we are doing so I decided to give an impromptu talk in the front yard of our HQ there – I have never had such captivated crowd!
Further to our previous blog, we have great news on the cuddly solenodon front! A young (18 years old) entrepreneur from the local community has taken it on himself to create cuddly solenodons so we will have these available for sale (or should I say find new homes?) very soon. I will be taking two exclusive knitted solenodons with me to the UK. These solenodons are based on Alan Darts’s designs and were created by Kate Wallace (TodyTours and SOH). They really are the cutest and each one is unique just like the real life solenodon – I’m thinking of putting them on eBay but it feels slightly wrong.
Jorge Brocca and Pedro Martinez from SOH will continue manning the ship as always but I’m off to have some catch up time with my friends and family for a few weeks.