August 26, 2010

The Island Ecology Workshop!

The Andaman Islands are truly one of the last spots on earth that will undoubtedly inspire you with each visit. This archipelago provides anthropological, socio-economic, historic, culinary, adventure and ecological experiences that are amongst the best in the world.

 With the diversity in habitat surrounding it, the Andaman and Nicobar Research Team (ANET) field station is ideally placed to be a real live laboratory for learning about island ecosystems. You can travel from rainforest, through mangrove and intertidal zones and reach coral reefs on a transect that is barely half a kilometer long!
This October, when the monsoons begin to ease off, The Gerry Martin Project (TGMP) and ANET will be running a six day workshop that will take participants through a structured and focused experience of the islands.
Through the workshop, there will be a combination of experiences, presentations, exploration and skill building. We will visit and explore various habitat types from rainforest and coastal habitats to inter-tidal zones and coral reefs.We will look at the various habitats from numerous perspectives. There will be the single species approach like dugongs and coral reefs or shorelines and sea turtles. Then there are ecosystem and ecological perspectives of how numerous organisms work simultaneously with their environment to survive and succeed, consequently affecting the environment and often the others in the system.
We will also be using the various habitats to help us build skills. We will learn the basics of canopy access using rope systems. There will be the basics of snorkeling, night surveys, bio-statistical sampling and more.
At the base, we will stay in quaint cottages that are erected on stilts, with bamboo thatch roofs. The huts are also well visited by much of the small local wildlife. The food is all very authentic and truly mouth watering!

· Understanding Island Ecologies
·Mangrove walks- Searching for specialized animals
· Intertidal Zone- Understanding this unique niche
· Visits to the reef
· Looking for crocodiles
· Herpetofaunal surveys
· Photography sessions
· Ecology presentations
· Canopy access (weather dependent)
· Snorkeling for marine life
· Loads of hands on experience
· Night surveys


Andaman and Nicobar Islands Environmental Team (ANET)

The Andaman and Nicobar islands are a chain of some 300 little known archipelagic islands situated on the eastern rim of the Bay of Bengal. Closely guarded by the Indian Government, they remain a pristine tropical island paradise, complete with stunning coral reefs, crystal blue waters and unspoiled equatorial rainforest. Most extraordinary, many of the islands are a bastion for some of the last remaining aboriginal tribes on earth that
continue to shun all contact with the outside world. The Andamanese, as these tribes are collectively known as, inhabit a significant percentage of the islands in fully protected areas that remain completely off limits to the general public.
Shortly after setting up the Croc Bank in the 1970s, the Whitakers realize there were needs for basic herpetological and other ecological work in the then much neglected islands. Over the next several years Rom, together with Satish Bhaskar and Alok Mallick, set about crafting a strategy to effectively address these issues. The Andaman and Nicobar Environmental Team (ANET) was conceived in 1989 and shortly thereafter five acres of land was purchase and a base station constructed in Wandoor, on the southern tip of South Andaman island.
ANET has since carried out extensive work on marine turtles, herpetofaunal biogeography and a host of other biological studies. In addition, ANET has been actively involved in the broader ecological and social spheres including work on natural resource utilization, socioeconomics and the management of protected areas. As one of the most capable NGOs in the region, ANET played a pivotal humanitarian and disaster relief role in the Nicobar Islands after the infamous 2004 tsunami devastated the region. Today, although still very active in the reptile arena (with a recently described genus of Agamid named at the base to prove it!) 

ANET has a very broad curriculum of environmental development work, including marine and terrestrial components. ANET is the only environmental research base in the islands and remains one of the Croc Banks most exotic and luxurious projects – our very own Treasure Island!

DATES: 11th - 16th October 2010

August 15, 2010

Arunachal Reptile Survey - September, 2010

Arunachal Pradesh, India’s Northeastern-most state is like a different world. We leave the plains in Assam and as soon as we cross the border, enter a mountainous realm with steep slopes and increasingly lofty peaks. The people, culture, terrain and wildlife are all unique and fascinating.

 ...Unfortunately, because of its remoteness, security issues and the difficulty in obtaining permits for travelers, the state has been relatively ignored when it comes to research or even eco-tourism. It hosts some very interesting fauna and flora. The red panda, binturong, clouded leopard, golden cat, takin are just a few examples. Its diversity in reptile and amphibian life is no exception. Species diversity here is quite jaw dropping and many of them are found only in this small region in India.


This is precisely the reason why Rom Whitaker is heading there. He needs to conduct a survey of the venomous species there to contribute to his national snakebite survey. He will be assisted by Gerry Martin and a small team of naturalists, herpetologists and even enthusiasts. The first location for this survey is Pakke Tiger Reserve about seven hours from Guwahati.

Pakke is primarily a lowland forest between 600 and 1000 meters ASL. There are, however, some reaches of the park that extend up to 2000 meters ASL. We’ll be focusing our searches in the lowland area. We reach the ‘West Bank’ where the park begins and then (depending on the level of the river) have to walk around 15 kilometers to the Khari Camp. We will set up base here, staying in tents and cooking our own food.

We will explore the area around Khari and then also radiate to other camps on day or overnight visits. We will have two friendly elephants to help us along most of the way!

Hands-on with GERRY MARTIN
We will get a chance to go ‘herping’ with India’s premier reptile conservationist, learn from his experience and also build context from the general dialogue, which is inevitable when in Rom’s company. Gerry will guide us on safe protocol while working in the field. Most of all, we will have contributed to some very valuable and long overdue work that will, hopefully, improve our understanding of snakebite in the country and enable us to treat it more efficiently.

Program Dates: 20th to 29th September; ex-Guwahati
For further details, contact Gerry on