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Here are some of the achievements and activities of Biosphere Expeditions and how our work has made a difference to habitats, wildlife and people on the ground.

Summary

•    Data collected by our expeditions in Namibia have helped our local and international partners make arguments that have led to the declaration of the Kavango Zambezi Transfrontier Conservation Area, or KAZA TFCA. The KAZA TFCA is the world's largest conservation area, spanning five southern African countries; Angola, Botswana, Namibia, Zambia and Zimbabwe, centered around the Caprivi-Chobe-Victoria Falls area. Also in Namibia, fewer lions, leopards and cheetahs have been killed in farmer-predator conflict due to our data collection, awareness-building and educational work.

•    Data collected by our expeditions in the Ukraine have helped our local partners make arguments that have led to the declaration of a national park in the Ukraine. This park now protects a unique steppe area jutting into the Black Sea and a stop-off point for many migratory birds, as well as a haven for fauna (e.g. birds & wolf) and flora (it boasts amongst other things Europe's biggest orchid field).

•    Data collected by our expeditions in the Altai have helped our local and international partners make arguments that have led to the declaration of a protected area in the Altai Republic, Central Asia. This area now provides protected habitat for a number of endangered species, including the snow leopard. Also in the Altai, we have converted local poachers into conservationists by paying them for verifiable camera trap pictures of snow leopards surviving year-on-year. This is obviously not a long-term strategy, but with so few snow leopards remaining, some stopgap solutions are needed until the long-term ones can be reached.

•    When Australia created the world's largest network of marine reserves in 2012, the Roebuck Commonwealth Marine Reserve, site of our flatback turtle study, was part of the network. Along with our local partners, we were working towards getting flatback turtles listed within the ‘major conservation values’ of the reserve and this is what happened, with the citation being ‘Foraging area adjacent to important nesting sites for flatback turtles’.

•    We played an active role in saving 50 wolves from being declared legitimate hunting targets in the Bieszczady mountains in Poland. This was achieved by providing accurate information on the predator numbers and by influencing the local authorities who reversed their decision to cull wolves.  

•    Our guidelines for boat behaviour at clay licks in the Tambopata Reserve have been incorporated in local management plans. Guidelines are needed because unsustainable forms of farming, logging and tourism are threatening the natural habitat in the Peruvian Amazon.

•    Our recommendations for the management and protection of jaguars have been incorporated into national and state-wide jaguar action plans in Brazil’s Atlantic rainforest.

•    Our recommendations for the management and protection of the coral reefs of the Musandam peninsula in Oman have led to the Omani Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries’ (MoAF) decision to prohibit the use of all kinds of nets and cages, and any other fishing equipment, except handlines.

•    Our recommendations for the management and protection of the coral reefs of the Cayos Cochinos marine protected area in Honduras have been incorporated into the managing authorities’ action plan.

•    Our recommendations for the management of Arabian oryx and Gordon’s wildcat have been incorporated into the action plan of the Dubai Desert Conservation Reserve.

•    Together with our partners in Spain, we helped to reverse EU high altitude carcass removal regulation, which was designed to combat the spread of BSE, but was starving high mountain vultures and bears.

•    Together with our partners in Peru, we were able to halt a dam construction project, which was threatening a biodiversity hotspot in our Madre de Dios study site region in the Peru Amazon region.

•    We have constructed three research stations and have helped to create local jobs and capacity all over the world.

•    All over the world, we have produced and distributed information and educational materials to local children and adults, about the importance of wildlife, natural resources and how to protect them and their livelihoods.

•    We have hosted local staff, rangers, students and other people on our expeditions as part of our comprehensive placement programme and have involved local communities in all our expedition locations, creating livelihoods and non-destructive, sustainable jobs in the process.

•    We have published numerous scientific reports and research papers, disseminating information amongst the scientific community.

•    We have won a multitude of awards & accolades and have published hundreds of press articles, radio and TV programmes, creating awareness locally and internationally.

Stats

•    Over 150,000 hours worked in voluntourism wildlife conservation & research.

•    Over 1.5 million pounds put directly into conservation project worldwide.

•    Over half a million pounds put into local projects and communities as in-kind donations.

Capacity-building & jobs

Our work has many effects, small and large, over and above the dry statistics and main achievements.

Here are just a few examples.

We have co-financed a field research station in Namibia, which is used by research bodies year-round. It functions as an important centre for conservation, providing training and a hub for researchers, as well as employment for the local community.
Base

“I work at the Hanyini Research Station in the East Caprivi. My job is to run the station so that research assistants from Biosphere Expeditions can concentrate on research work that helps to protect the livestock in our communities and to manage predators. This is my first job and I am very grateful as there is little work in our area. I am also very grateful for the work that the research assistants are doing. Since their arrival I haven’t lost any cattle to lions and hyaenas. My cattle are very important to me and for my family. Thank you for your support.”

Simon Naha, Caprivi delta, Namibia.

Simon Naha
   
We have also helped to finance a field research station in Peru. This too is used by research bodies year-round as centre for conservation & research, providing training for researchers, as well as employment for the local community. Piedras station

"My name is Aldo Ramirez Mejia. I am 21 years old and from the local community at Lake Sandoval. While I finish my studies in Puerto Maldonado, I work with the Tambopata Macaw Project studying macaws and claylicks, which is supported by Biosphere Expeditions. Traditionally, my family has fished, farmed and hunted, but thanks to Biosphere Expeditions and its ecotourism and conservation opportunities, I have been able to dedicate my time to my interest with the local wildlife with which I grew up, rather than hunting it. Thank you very much."

Aldo Ramirez Mejia, Lake Sandoval community, Peru.

Aldo Mejia
   
On the Azores whales and dolphins project, we have provided our scientists with funding to attend an international scientific conference to present their findings. Whale breaching

“The Marine Mammal Society conference is the largest conference of its kind, with more than 1500 marine mammal scientists and policymakers from around the world in attendance. Biosphere Expeditions' support has enabled me to attend this conference to present our important findings. I would like to thank all Friends of Biosphere Expeditions who, through their donations, have made this possible for me.”

Dr. Lisa Steiner, Azores, Portugal.

Lisa Steiner

"My uncle used to work as a look-out for the whaling industry, spotting whales for the whalers and he taught me how to spot them. With whaling now banned around the Azores, I can do this job of spotting whales for Biosphere Expeditions and its research teams. It's a great way to use my skills, keeping them alive for future generations and helping the whales."

Miguel Vargas, Cedros, Faial Island, Azores.

Miguel Simões
   
On our Honduras coral reef expedition we have purchased buoys and markers to delineate the protected area to make clear where the no-fishing zones start. Honduras

"With the Friends of Biosphere Expeditions' donation we will be able to keep the buoys system up and running that demarcates our Marine Protected Area. Thank you so much for this!"

Adrián E. Oviedo, Executive Director, Honduras Coral Reef Foundation.

Adrian Oviedo

"I was born and raised in Cayo Cochino Menor. The island I once played on as a boy, I now work to protect as a boat captain for the Honduran Coral Reef Foundation. I know these waters like the back of my hand and enjoy sharing our marine treasures with the team members from Biosphere Expeditions. I am a certified rescue diver, in large part inspired by watching the teams work here. I am proud of my country and these islands and feel very lucky that researchers from Biosphere Expeditions are helping to conduct research that help in the conservation of the area. Thank you!"

Alex Solis, Cayos Cochinos Islands, Honduras.

Alex Solis
   
In Oman we have purchased camera traps to help local researchers in their Arabian leopard conservation work. We have also funded an Omani ranger to join our Caprivi expedition as part of his training. Hadi Hikmani
"My work on Arabian leopard conservation began with the Oman Office for Conservation of the Environment in 2002 and since 2006 I have been assisting Biosphere Expeditions in survey work on the Arabian leopard and prey species in Oman. Trhough my work with Biosphere Expeditions, I have had the chance to meet people from different cultures from all over the world and I also gained invaluable information & experience on how to conduct conservation research by working with experienced scientists from Biosphere Expeditions. Through the Office for Conservation I am now studying for a conservation degree in the UK, something I always dreamed of. When I finish my studies I look forward to continuing my work with the conservation of the Arabian leopard.”

Hadi al Hikmani, Dhofar, Oman.
Hadi al Hikmani
   
On many of our expeditions & projects, we have produced and distributed information and educational materials to local children and adults, about the importance of wildlife, natural resources and how to protect them and their livelihoods. The picture shows an Omani boy looking at a an Arabian leopard information booklet with a pull-out poster of an Arabian leopard in the middle. Oman

"My name is Emil Respaevich Sanzarakov and live in the village of Kurai in the Republic of Altai. I am a student at school and help my father look after sheep, goats and cows. Instead of hanging around in the village with my friends during the summer holidays, I now work for Biosphere Expeditions, helping with the running of base camp and guiding in the mountains. The work helps me to see and learn about my country as I do not normally have the opportunity to travel and see places. I enjoy meeting people from other countries and improving my English. The money I earn is important for me to help support my family and also to feel independent. When I leave school, I hope to go to university; I also hope to continue working with Biosphere during the holidays."

Emil Respaevich Sanzarakov, Kurai village, Republic of Altai.

Emil Sanzarakov

Education & awareness

Conservation cannot work in isolation. Hearts & minds of local people need to be won in order for conservation measures to be effective. Without the cooperation of the local people, conservation measures are most likely doomed for failure. Biosphere Expeditions is at the forefront of educational efforts and below are just a few examples.

Educational visit to a school in Muscat, Oman, talking about coral reefs and their conservation.  

Educational activities with school children in Namibia.

In Oman, we have produced educational materials on Arabian leopards and coral reefs and distributed these to local people as part of educational roadshows, school visits and other events. 

pdf Arabian leopard educational book 16.02 Mb
pdf Coral reef educational booklet 3.49 Mb
pdf Sample school presentation 12.40 Mb

We have also held many press conferences and hosted regional press on our expeditions in Oman to increase local awareness about conservation in general and Arabian leopard and coral reef conservation in particular.

pdf Example of local press coverage 1.23 Mb

Finally, we have a scholarship programme enabling local people to take part in our coral reef conservation expedition and being trained in survey techniques.

Visit our scholarship programme page 

Also click on the "Capacity building & jobs" tab above for feedback from locals

OmanEducational activities in Oman

In Honduras we have produced an educational booklet about coral reefs, their value and how to proctect them. These are distributed to schools by our local partners and during our expeditions as part of educational school visits.

pdf Coral reef educational booklet 1.44 Mb 

Also click on the "Capacity building & jobs" tab above for feedback from locals 

Educational activities in Honduras

In Namibia we have several educational programmes. One is hosting local school children at our expedition base, teaching them about local wildilfe and conservation. Another project is sending local school children on week-long educational courses about sustainable living - and we have produced a book to go with this course. We also have a scholarship programme with local universities and high school for the next generationof conservationists.Finally, we work with the local farmers association, the media and other bodies, delivering talks and lectures on how humans and carnivores can coexist and promoting this topic to journalists.

pdf Sustainable living book 1.78 Mb
Watch a video of an educational day at our expedition base
Visit our scholarship programme page

Also click on the "Capacity building & jobs" tab above for feedback from locals 

Educational activities in Namibia

In the Maldives we have produced a coral reef educational booklet for local school children and also have a scholarship programme, work with the local media, and train local government researchers in coral reef survey techniques.

pdf Coral reef educational booklet 1.99 Mb
Visit our scholarship programme page 

Educational activities Maldives

In the Altai we are working with local schools on producing a snow leopard information booklet and workbook. We also have a scholarship programme for local students and researchers and host snow leopard scientists from countries throughout the snow leopard's range on our expedition.

Visit our scholarship programme page 

Also click on the "Capacity building & jobs" tab above for feedback from locals

Educational activities in the Altai

 

Stories

Pete Eggleston, UK

Pete Eggleston

I joined Biosphere Expeditions in Oman to survey for the Arabian Leopard. At the time I was working in banking but had a passion for the environment, and in particular wildlife conservation. The chief scientist was Tessa McGregor, and the expedition leader was Dom Hall. We also had a local guide called Hadi, who was great fun and very knowledgable. It was one of the best experiences of my life. Dom led the group fantastically and Tessa was a complete inspiration. Her enthusiasm and dedication inspired the whole team.  

I have now left banking. This year I am due to complete an MSc is Biodiversity Conservation and Management with the University of London and I have started volunteering with my local WIldlife Trust. My dissertation is related to conserving the water vole, one of the UK's most threated mammals.

Before my expedition I had no practical experience of conservation. A change in career was therefore, to some extent, a pipe dream as I had no idea if it was what I really wanted to do. My time in Oman completely changed that view. I loved every minute of the expedition, including the surveying in extreme conditions ! The trip persuaded me that this is what I wanted to do and gave me the confidence to leave the banking salary, perks and security behind. I haven't regretted it yet!

 

Rasha Skybey, Australia

 Rasha Skybey

I have, throughout my entire life always been a huge animal lover. However, my love was only ever really expressed through regular donations to animal charities or involving myself in the animal law movement in Australia. I decided that I wanted to do something different to help our non-human friends and called Biosphere Expeditions for further information on saving Arabian Leopards in Oman.

I joined up without really contemplating the idea of living for two weeks without flush toilets, running water, electricity, internet, mobile phone AND hair-dryer!!! This wouldn’t have been a problem for those who have camped before, but please note that I had never been camping. I actually hated the outdoors, and would do anything to avoid going outside. I refused to exercise and refused to leave the house without blow-drying and styling my hair, wearing high heels and pretty dresses.

What did I get myself into? I remember how I felt in Abu Dhabi Airport before boarding the plane to Muscat. I thought I was going to faint because I was so nervous and anxious at the decision I had made to completely step outside my comfort zone.

Thankfully I did make it to Oman safely and I had the best 12 days of my entire life. Admittedly, the first two days were a bit of a struggle. My body, which never really walked a distance greater than 10 metres (the distance between the front door of my house and my car) found the hours of walking painful. After two full days I was climbing rocky mountains with little difficulty.

I met the most amazing people who I know I will be friends with for life and ate meals that would put Jamie Oliver to shame. I continue to reminisce our nightly ritual of sitting by the fire sharing our daily stories and telling jokes and conducting basic Arabic lessons. My fondest memory would have to be the morning observation at a nearby waterhole. The 6 am start was a struggle but as the sun rose, the waterhole came alive with sounds I would never hear in Sydney. The sound of so many insects, birds and mammals gave me goose bumps. I sat still for hours just listening and watching for the slightest movement. Then finally, I saw it – a beautiful black cat-like creature. Thankfully I had my video camera and began filming. I took the footage back to base camp where Tessa, our scientist stated that I may have stumbled on a new species! She may have been pulling my leg, it may just simply be a lost domestic cat that ended up in the waterhole. Regardless, it was still a surreal experience.

By the final week, going without a good hot shower, mobile or internet didn’t bother me in the slightest. In fact, it was almost a relief to be free from it all.

So I am back home now and absolutely miserable and considering a career change...perhaps a wildlife photographer? The experience was the best thing I have ever done in my life and I have already joined up for my next Biosphere expedition...see you in Caprivi!! 

> also see Rasha's video diary of Oman

 

Andreas Odey, Germany

Andreas Odey

I'd like to send you some thoughts about my time after having participtated in the Honduras coral reef expedition.

Those two weeks led me to more conservation diving. I also made a new friend for life - I'm still in contact with my dive buddy and we have been diving since. Biology,...... learning more about reefs and doing something for their conservation - I even wrote an article for a German magazine. I am also thinking much more about how to spend my holidays with the environment in mind. In short, Biosphere Expeditions gave me more awareness about our natural environment and motivated me to learn more about sea life. I really enjoyed my expedition, good memories, the natural way of life on the island, the good team spirit and atmosphere and motivated team members, expedition leader and scientists. What an interesting and life-changing experience! Thank you.

 

Peggy Hansen, USA

Peggy Hansen

I went on the Namibia expedition and had an amazing time....as I think all members of the group did. But since I'm a doctor and we had two leopards to deal with on the same day, I had a unique experience: I was able to assist the vet in tranquilizing, monitoring, and collecting samples from the cats. How many doctors can say they've taken a rectal temperature or drawn blood on a 140-lb wild leopard? Not exactly what I trained for during med school or residency, but what a thrill! 

 

Liz Shaw, UK

Liz Shaw

I joined the Peru expedition when I was a zoology student at Bristol University. Ever since I can remember I dreamed of one day visiting the rainforest, so this expedition literally was a dream come true! I remember having to pinch myself as we travelled by boat to our camp on the first day, just to convince myself I really was there!  

During the two weeks of my expedition we surveyed parrots and macaws at a small 'clay lick', where the birds come in the early morning to eat the soil, and we also performed large mammal surveys in the forest. Every day in the rainforest is different, and you never know what you're going to see. It was an amazing experience - from showering underneath a waterfall, to hearing the loud calls of howler monkeys ring out over the forest, to nearly being charged by a herd of peccaries (wild pigs)! And of course not to mention the colourful and noisy spectacle of over a hundred parrots and macaws coming down to feed every day. 

After finishing my degree, my expedition inspired me to do more travelling, and also provided useful experience that helped me gain voluntary placements studying monkeys and bats in Mexico, and performing biodiversity surveys in Tanzania. It was Peru that had really captured my heart, though, and I was lucky enough to spend six months working as a naturalist back out in the rainforest - my dream job! Two years later my experiences came full circle, and I found myself back at the clay licks again, collecting data on parrots and macaws for my MSc in Animal Behaviour.

Now, eight years on from my expedition, I'm working as a researcher and writer for a charity who are at the heart of the wildlife media industry, and I love every minute of it. My expedition with Biosphere Expeditions all those years ago really started everything off, giving me both the inspiration and the experience needed to get into the wonderful and exciting world of wildlife conservation.  

 

Helge Eek, Norway

Helge Eek

I am a photographer and have joined Biosphere in Altai, Brazil & Peru. Some time before my first expedition to Altai I had a wonderful dream. I was flying almost like an eagle above the most beautiful landscape I had ever seen. Lovely green slopes with a lots of colourful flowers, crystal clear rivers and behind the hills were high mountains with snow. I never forgot this dream. Later I discovered Biosphere Expeditions in the BBC Wildlife magazine and went on their website. And there it was, the landscape of my dream as part of the Altai expedition. At this time I was searching for new experiences in life. I wanted to give something back to nature not only "take" photos. So joining Biosphere seemed to be the right thing to do. My expedition in Altai was very special and successful. I found the landscape of my dream and made new friends who I still keep in contact with. I think my life is richer now and I want to do more expeditions with Biosphere. For me, it's almost like life before and after Biosphere. 

 

Robin Burns, Australia

Robin Burns

My memories of  Altai are more like a series of slides than a moving image. The overwhelming sense I have is the privilege to have visited this distant, isolated and exqusitely beautiful part of our planet. Wildflowers, wildflowers everywhere! Such a colourful profusion I have never ever seen before, and somewhat guiltily dropping out of the scat-search, lay prone amongst them beside a small stream, just trying to memorise the experience.

I remember meetings with local people - erecting a yurt for us for cosy evening gatherings, leading us into the mountains, and offering hospitality as we 'dropped in' to ask them about their experiences with snow leopards. There was lots of laughter and conviviality at the end of a tough day. A golden sun setting across the steppe and touching the distant mountains with soft sunsent colours....

 

Dave Maisey, UK

Dave Maisey

My interest in the Altai was started by a university lecturer. I had never heard of the place or knew anything about it, but was intrigued when he told us about his experiences. After university I was keen to go and experience 'real' wilderness and I still remembered the stories and pictures of that lecturer. So after saving money for a year I joined the Snow Leopard expedition for 2 slots. In my humble experience standing on the tops of those mountain ridges and looking out over 'nothing' - no roads, no people, no sound just steppe - is a feeling that will stay with me forever. Also I don't think I have ever been so proud as when I spotted ibex with my binoculars! Since this expedition I have been to Iceland to work with scientists investigating glacial outburst floods and this summer I will be in Argentina helping projects in small communities. The Altai expeditions left me with a continuing desire to go to remote places and experience life with just the basics!



Barry Hardy, Ireland

Barry Hardy

I joined the Biosphere expedition in the Caprivi Delta to help the local scientists with their work of gathering information on the local wildlife and environment. One of the aspects of the project was to work with local farmers in order to mitigate the human-predator confict. Most of the them are small subsistence farmers, i.e. they have a few cattle and goats, plant a small number of crops and use fishing, plants and wildlife from the local bush to generate a basic living.

We spent time travelling around the villages doing interviews with the local people to see what their experiences and relationships with predators were. Involvement of the community is critical to the success of the project in the longer term. For example, if the local people can benefit from future tourism and have better income and healthcare, they will be motivated to support the park and protect the valuable wildlife. It is their country and they need to be empowered and rewarded in protecting and benefitting from it.

Showing interest in the local culture and traditions was also valuable in making a connection with the local people. One afternoon our car broke down and we spent the afternoon waiting for a rescue. Meanwhile we were joined by the nearby villagers to play cards: we showed them our game and they showed us theirs. As evening approached they sang several of their local songs and we in return showed them a four hand Irish reel, which they found somewhat strange but fun to try with us! Such interactions brought home to me a better combined appreciation of the land and people in the region including its special beauty and how reaching out to interact with the local community was both a rewarding experience and critical for future conservation and responsible development success.


Patrick & Jill Walker, UK
(left and right on picture)

Patrick & Jill Walker

My wife Jill and I went on the Musandam leopard expedition. By coincidence I had worked in Khasab in 1980 as an engineer blasting roads to allow the 20th century to come in. At this time Oman was a closed country and Khasab a tiny fishing village surrounding an oasis and situated in the far north of the country overlooking the Persian Gulf. While I was there I volunteered to help the government conservation department to record as much of the wildlife and birds I saw because it was such a remote area. Sadly, in late 1980 a freshly shot leopard was brought in. Such a beautiful beast and one out of a total so small that noboby really knew how many there were left.

25 years later while trawling through the net I typed in Musandam leopard and the Biosphere site came up. I could not believe they were actually running an expedition to try to find out if the leopard had become extinct since nobody had been seen any for some time. Thus my wife and I signed up and joined the expedition in Dubai.

Despite both being over 60 we found the form of the expedition such that everyone could work at their own pace and this suited us. We managed to climb the jebels and trawl the wadis for signs that this endangered animal might still be around. In the middle of the second week we were actually lucky enough to find the unmistakable paw prints of at least two leopards. The species was still around! As well as the rare leopard prints we also saw lots of signs of caracal, foxes and hedgehogs all of which were recorded. 

Living in tents was an experience but driving the wonderful Land Rovers more than made up for this. It took me back to my time driving around in my Toyota Landcruiser. To me it was pure nostalgia to see Khasab 25 years on and now a modern town with street lights and hotels, tarmac roads and flower beds. For my wife Jill it was a chance of an adventure and an opportunity to help on a very worthy project.  

 

 

Awards & accreditations


News

Latest ezine

Biosphere Expeditions wins National Geographic accolade more

 


Magazine

Magazine2014.gif Our annual Biosphere Expeditions Magazine is packed with stories from the field, achievements, looks behind the scenes and an overview over our expeditions, projects, taster days and other activities.

 


YouTube

Biosphere Expeditions YouTube channel Watch our YouTube channel with philosophy and background information, clips from the field, etc.

 
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