Welcome to the blog of the Department of Environmental and Geographical Sciences at the University of Northampton. This will keep you up to date with both student and staff activities.

The Department of Environmental and Geographical Sciences includes staff with interests in biological sciences, conservation, ecology, environmental sciences, environmental statistics, geography and waste management. We offer a range of degree programmes and have a number of postgraduate research students. For more information about studying with us please visit http://www.northampton.ac.uk/.

Thursday, 23 January 2014

Operation Wallacea- Guyana

Joe Gosling

The expedition started with a 12 hour mini-bus ride from George Town (Guyana’s capital) to the Iwokrama river lodge which is in the heart of the Iwokrama rainforest. Here we spent a few days getting used to the hot, humid conditions, getting to know the other research assistants and the researchers, as well as finding out exactly what we will be doing. We then had a 2 hour boat ride up the Essequibo River to our first camp, Turtle Mountain, where we spent 4 days.

Each day we got to sign up for a morning and evening session to help out one of the researchers and we got time in the middle of the day to relax when most of the animals are inactive. These included a mammal transect, dung beetle transect, a herp walk (reptiles and amphibians), fishing, bird mist netting, bat mist netting and river surveys. My personal favourites were the herp walk where we were catching frogs, snakes and lizards for DNA samples and fishing where we caught all kinds of menacing looking fish and a lot of piranha!

The second camp we stayed at was called Cabucalli where it rained a lot! The fishing was particularly good but I think we were all happy when we moved on to our third camp, Rock Landing.  This camp was my favourite as we could have refreshing afternoon swims in the river and there was a huge diversity of wildlife. For me one of the highlights of the trip was here, catching a tree boa with my hands from a boat. Our fourth and final camp was called Sandstone which also had a huge diversity of wildlife. A few lucky research assistants got a glimpse of a giant river otter and I was lucky enough to see a pygmy anteater in a tree while on a river survey. Our final afternoon and night before we went back to George Town was spent at the Surama Eco Lodge on the Rupununi savannah. Here we had a football match with the local people and after they had a party for us. 

This was one of the most amazing experiences of my life spending a month in a remote tropical rainforest and seeing a huge variety of wildlife. As well as this, I met some really good friends and the staff were extremely enthusiastic and willing to have a laugh. We all had a great time together and I would highly recommend it to anyone interested in the biological sciences.