Anatomy of a Biodiversity Expedition

This is the beginning of a diary about my upcoming small mammal biodiversity survey in Sierra Leone. An attempt to write and reflect about this experience from the preparation phase through the actual field work to the final report stage.

It is not just a factual log but hopefully will reflect thoughts, enthusiasm, worries, and interdisciplinary connections that go beyond the task at hand: providing systematic and zoogeographic data on small mammal (bat, shrew and rodent) distributions in one region of Sierra Leone to be inundated by a new hydroelectric dam. This will be one of several biodiversity reports (pdf) to be produced for this development project.

As I write this, our proposed date of departure is January 1 or 2, 2006. Return about 4 weeks later. These dates have been submitted to the contracting agency (NKUK). We expect to be mailed a contract, sign it, and start ordering supplies, get medical checks, and apply for visas.

It will be my first trip to Sierra Leone. I have worked with a colleague from SL on previous Rapid Assessment Programs (RAPs) organized by Conservation International in Guinea and Ghana and I have a faint connection to the YMCA in Freetown through a partnership with the YMCA (CVJM) in my native home region of Westphalia, Germany.

“Freetown” also reminds me occasionally of the Graham Greene novel “The Heart of the Matter” which was set there.

I hope this weblog might set the stage or open a dialog forum for a new course/seminar on “African Nature Conservation and Sustainable Development” which I hope to offer here at UVM.

(J. Decher)

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