South Africa Research Internship as part of MSc Placement at Bournemouth Univeristy- 2016
Working closely with a team of dedicated conservationists within the South African bushveld, I partook in conducting valuable research on the dynamics of a relatively small game reserve. This involved developing tracking skills, where dominant predators were tracked using radio telemetry, to develop a better understanding of the movement patterns of the animals within the reserve and in turn aiding with the management of the area. Vital behavioural data was collected daily on predator presence as well as large herbivore species, so that a better understanding of the animals could be achieved, with emphasis on predator prey interactions. Additionally, there was focus on reserve management to ensure that the reserve is maintained to the best standard.
This internship utilised established training methods, where predominant telemetry skills were initially developed, where subsequent focus on tracking and signing within the bushveld was explored. These significant skill developments were established so that a holistic approach to conservation can be achieved, with a sustainable and long term emphasis. Scats and tracks were identified, where we were tested on various parameters, including individual and group species movements, when they were last seen in the area, and any prominent indications of directions. Furthermore, key bird identification skills were practised.
There was also a strong focus on community engagement projects, with the aim of encouraging and teaching local school children about the significance of conservation within the community and local area. By doing this, we aimed to encourage local people to have a better understanding of the value and importance of biodiversity within their country.
Rio de Grande Norte Internship as part of MSc Placement at Bournemouth Univeristy – 2016
The placement that I chose to take part in as part of my master’s course was a marine study in Natal, Brazil. This placement came about from the Projeto Cetáceos da Costa Branca (PCCB), which is an institutional project of the Universidade do Estado do Rio Grande do Norte (UERN), the federal university in the state. This project is run in the Northern coast of the state, which was set up in 1998 with the aim carry out observations, rescue and rehabilitation of marine mammals that are become stranded on the coastline.
The objective of the project is to register, rescue, rehabilitate and reintroduce the natural marine animals that were stranded alive, which were managed at various base camps along the stretch. For every stranding that was recorded, a form was filled outlining all the biota. This was then form inputted into excel, so that records of stranding and analysis were recorded on a daily basis.
The taxonomic groups that were covered included cetaceans, sirenia, marine ecosystems, sea turtles, birds and fish, which included endangered species. The roles that I was involved in with during the placement included, assisting with monitoring and biota data records, applying conservation and research methods, manage rehabilitation, release and necropsy marine life on the beaches. I was also able to participate and assist with the disclosure of semi-annual results of the PMP-BP in coastal communities of Rio Grande do Norte. This involved me visiting various projects within the region and presenting results to local fisherman, to raise awareness of the conservation efforts that are ongoing within the area. Additionally, I proof read current research papers that the team were publishing to English journals, as nobody within the organisation was a native English speaker.
I spent 3 out of the 5 weeks at Areia Branca field base where I worked as part of a close team conducting daily field research. Overall, my experience of this placement was very positive. I was able to partake in research for species that I hadn’t experienced before in new environments. Personally, I found the transition into new research procedures without difficulty. However, I found the language barrier quite difficult, but that limitation allowed me to begin to develop another new skill which can be improved. There is also scope for further research and collaboration with this organisation, with historic data that could be analysed.
I was able to conduct research in an area of discipline, and was able to develop a relationship with the host organisation. I was the first student that had conducted a placement within the organisation anywhere outside the Brazil, and I would recommend this organisation highly to anyone considering studying marine biology and interested in wildlife conservation.