It's an activity that we all engage in, but is the selfie good for conservation?
To find out more about the use of technology in conservation you can see some of the team's (and colleagues) previous research in this special issue on 'Digital Conservation' in the science journal Ambio.
The introduction to 'Digital Conservation'gives an overview to the topic.
All the articles are openly accessible.
Sometimes things happen that we can not plan for, and in the past weeks we've had our share of unexpected events.
One half of our team (Gina) is a type 1 (insulin dependent) diabetic, and we try to prepare for all eventualities while travelling. Unfortunately though on a recent bus journey Gina suffered a hypoglycemic attack. This occurs when the sugar in the blood drops to an extremely low level, which in this case resulted in a seizure. It was necessary to inject glucagon a hormone that stimulates the liver to release stored glucose into the bloodstream.
The extreme circumstances of the situation meant that a hospital trip was in order for a thorough check up, followed by a few days recuperation.
It is worth reiterating that this was an extreme situation, and a rare occurrence. The advent of novel technologies in recent years have made it increasingly easy to monitor and control blood sugars as a diabetic. The ability to record blood sugars on mobile apps, readily transport insulin and access information online makes travelling a lot more straightforward.
“Isn’t it amazing that we have been able to contribute to the extinction of so many species, yet we can’t seem to eradicate the ones we want to.” – a sailor’s snippet on conservation in Patagonia.
Like any good non-native species story, this one starts with an idea. This particular idea came to light in the 1940s, when the Argentine government introduced 25 pairs of North American beavers (Castor canadensis) to the Tierra del Fuego archipelago to begin a fur industry.
Despite being exploited the beavers thought this idea was a splendid one. With no native predators and forests aplenty the population swelled to an estimated 100,000 individuals in the early 2000s. Sadly, Argentinian and Chilean beech forests did not come off well during this period. North American beavers have the illustrious title of being an ecosystem engineer, and they quickly began to alter the morphology and hydrology of the area by felling trees and damming the numerous waterways. While the North American forests had co-evolved with the beavers habits, the south American forests did not have the ability to regenerate and the beavers soon became an unwelcome guest.
Initially efforts were made to control the swollen population, but in 2008 ‘war’ was declared on the beaver, and an international team embarked on the largest eradication programme ever attempted. The aim was to both prevent the beaver moving further north through the continent, and remove those that had already established.
As yet the jury is out as to whether the project is successful, however the evidence of the beavers throughout Tierra del Fuego is not difficult to find, In fact it’s more difficult to find a waterway that does not have evidence of beavers. The dams, large lodges and numerous felled trees indicate that the beaver has well and truly planted the flag to stake a claim over 7 million hectares of prime Patagonian real estate.
And, it’s due to their successful colonisation that we ended up having dinner with a North American beaver on the southernmost tip of Argentina:
Our journey has currently involved:
36 buses, 2 trains and 2 boats.
With a total travel time of:
4.9 days or 118.25 hours or 7095 minutes depending on your unit of time preference.
But, we have arrived at the end of our first journey leg and our eighth protected space. At the 'End of the World' lies Tierra del Fuego National Park, Argentina.