It has been an exciting start to 2018 for our global conservation team, who have been hard at work across three continents.
In January, Marwell Wildlife was one of seven international zoological teams helping to collect vital information on the largest and most endangered species of zebra on the planet for the Great Grevy’s Rally 2018. 170 teams covered more than 25,000 square kilometres in five counties of Northern Kenya. They battled harsh and remote conditions in the heat and dust to find and photograph as many Grevy’s zebra as they could for the photographic census. Marwell took on two vast blocks of the furthest northern territory. Intrepid teams of motorcyclists, private pilots and all terrain cross country drivers joined with the local community and our scout teams to find every Grevy’s zebra in the vast area of more than 1200Km2.
The official results from the census will be compiled by 23 June 2018, and announced by the Cabinet Secretary for Environment and Tourism in Kenya. Until then, Marwell will be processing more than 100,000 photographs and tallying up the 2018 population.
Eelmoor Marsh (England)
Back in the UK, Marwell’s conservation team have been sprucing up Eelmoor Marsh. This land is a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) – Marwell Wildlife conservation biologist, Dr Martin Wilkie, oversees habitat restoration at this ecologically-important lowland heath site. Targeted habitat management carried out in December 2017 included the use of heavy machinery to create colonization sites for bog flora and the removal of dominating scrub to provide open nesting areas for ground-nesting birds. The works are a critical part of the long-term plan to maintain Natural England’s ͞favourable condition status at Eelmoor.
Over in Asia, wildlife inhabiting the fragile mountain ecosystems of Central Asia, such as the snow leopard, is faced with the increasing challenges posed by human activity and climate change. Marwell Wildlife is working with partners in Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan and China, with the support of NABU in Germany to develop regional climate-smart conservation across national borders for snow leopards.
This framework will allow effective interaction between countries, leading to information sharing about snow leopard populations, ecosystem monitoring and responses to community-based conservation and climate focused interventions. This will lead to greater understanding between conservationists and community members in each country, providing a regional approach that can be used for conservation and climate planning more widely.
With our MRes students now on their 10-week placements all over the world, as well as our own conservation biologists taking on interesting projects, Marwell is hoping for great news in the coming months.