When things go ‘jump’ in the night… a puffling’s first flight to sea revealed by thermal imaging 

Emily Burford (BSc!) writes about her dissertation project using thermal imaging to study seabird biology, appropriately at the peak fledging time for puffin chicks, known as ‘pufflings’…

I visited Skomer Island during July last year to start my dissertation project on how light pollution might affect puffling behaviour. 

Thermal image of two adult puffins with their puffling. Photo: Matt Wood / University of Gloucestershire

Adult puffin with its puffling. The adult has a colourful beak and red feet, the puffling is black and white (probably to keep a low profile to avoid predators and attention from other puffins). Photo: Allan Rose


I was told that it was unlikely that I would witness a puffling fledging, as this happens at night, but determined to see one take to the sea I sat up till the early hours of the morning with the UGlosBioscience thermal imaging camera, which can detect warm-bodied features in total darkness. To my delight I saw a puffling make its first flight out to sea! Do check out this YouTube link:

Puffling fledging seen by thermal imaging

In the video, both parents are with the chick, which turns around to look at the sea, and then jumps off the cliff towards the sea. The parents look down after their chick and then look at each other, almost as if they don’t know what to do next! A warden on the island told me that a man has been visiting Skomer for 9 years trying to see a puffling fledge and he never has, so I feel extremely lucky to have witnessed this activity, which rarely been seen or captured on video. 

Aside from fledging, I also witnessed other behaviour such as puffling interaction with their parents. The parents actively guard the nest until it is dark to protect the pufflings from the gulls that might predate them. If the puffling ventures too far out of its burrow whilst it is still light, the parent will give it a gentle nudge back in with its bill. When conditions are dark enough, so that they cannot be clearly seen, the pufflings will venture out of their burrows on their own and stretch their wings. They do this consecutively for a few evenings until they are ready to fledge.

Puffins are very sociable birds and this can even be seen in their young. Prior to one of the pufflings fledging, other pufflings came out of their burrows and joined it as if they were gathering to watch how it’s done… or perhaps they wanted to wish their friend good luck! Whilst watching my footage back I also noticed that it was common for the fledglings to do a poo before they took to flight, I found this particularly amusing!

Emily using the thermal imaging camera to study Manx shearwaters. Photo: Matt Wood / University of Gloucestershire

My time on Skomer watching the pufflings was an amazing experience, for any seabird/bird lover, I would certainly recommend a trip to the island, it truly is a very special place. While my puffin project didn’t quite go to plan, I was able to return to Skomer study Manx shearwaters using thermal imaging. I would like to thank the wardens and island volunteers for their kind support and invaluable advice during my stay on Skomer Island. 

Emily Burford BSc (Hons) Ecology & Environmental Science

(Emily is one of our first students to graduate this year from this new and expanding course… well done to all of our 2017 graduates!)

Life on a Knife Edge; The Battle for Legal Trade in Rhino Horn

In the first of two posts about our recent field course in South Africa, second-year Animal Biology student Louise Chiverton writes about the complex issues around rhino poaching…

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UGlosBioscience students with (in the background) rhinos Courtney and Sweet Chilli (photo: Emma Atkin)

“How emotional can it be? We all know what happens; poachers take the horn, rhinos die – circle of life and all that.” These were the naïve words which escaped my mouth just an hour before my eyes were opened to the blinding truth of South Africa’s poaching crisis. In a sense, I was right; we do all know that rhinos are being killed for their horn but never did I imagine the intensity of commitment that private rhino owners have shown in order to save this precious species. During our recent Bioscience field course trip to Mankwe Wildlife reserve, Operations Manager Lynne MacTavish spoke to our group about her experiences with poaching, the trauma of losing a rhino and the battle she now faces to ensure their protection.

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Two of Mankwe’s Rhino; surviving peacefully after being dehorned (photo: Lynne MacTavish)

The things we take for granted every day; sitting on the sofa to read a book, meals out with the family, going to see a movie – things we all do to relax are a luxury the Mankwe staff cannot afford. Christmas dinner, New Year’s Eve and even birthday celebrations are put on hold because those are the times poachers hit knowing that you’ll be distracted or busy. “You just learn to get on with life,” says Lynne, “but every single one of the Mankwe staff has some stress related illness; whether that’s stomach ulcers, migraines and we’re all sleep deprived.” But how can you blame them, knowing that their rhinos and their own lives are always at risk.

“If they have a horn on their face; it doesn’t matter if they’re in a zoo in France, on a museum wall, in a national park or a private reserve – they are dead.” Lynne has witnessed first-hand just how traumatic the poaching of a rhino can be. South Africa is currently home to 95% of the world’s White Rhino population and since the introduction of a poaching ban in 2008 both National parks and private reserves have faced a relentless battle to protect their beloved gentle giants. In 2014, Mankwe Wildlife reserve lost two beautiful breeding females; Cheeky Cow and Winnie. Weakened by bullets, both animals were mutilated for their horns, unable to fight off their poachers after having their spinal cords slashed before being left for a slow death. The staff of Mankwe put their lives on the line to protect these special animals, working every hour of every day to ensure their safety and ultimately – the survival of a species.

Only now; the kilometres of high voltage fencing, the scheduled daily patrols, the anti-poaching squads and attack dogs isn’t enough. Action has to be taken both on the ground in South Africa and on the worldwide political stage.

The discovery of two poached rhino at Mankwe shook the confidence of the entire team – they had survived 6 years since the introduction of the poaching ban, watching neighbours and friends suffer the horrendous attack from the poaching syndicates, yet their little reserve had remained untouched. But now they had been found and they were faced with the choice; dehorn them and carry on or give up like the 30 other private rhino owners that did last year? Many people sold their rhino a few years ago and invested in buffalo. No risk, high returns, happy days. Should Mankwe do the same?

“I couldn’t do it; it was like giving up on your children” Said Lynne “We didn’t know where they would end up – maybe a rhino farm in China?”

“I had fought dehorning these rhinos because I thought rhinos need a horn. What right do we have to remove their horn?” Lynne explained. Yet the minute Cheeky Cow and the cruelty of her poaching discovered, she knew that dehorning was their only hope. By removing the horn, rhinos stand an 85% better chance of survival. After the week – long camp out to prevent further poaching, Mankwe received its dehorning permit.

Dehorning is a huge process. First, the rhino must be found by helicopter before being shot with the anaesthetic dart by the vet. As the drugs take effect, the ground team move in to reduce the impact of that huge body weight hitting the earth and instantly begin monitoring the rhino’s vitals, regulating its heat by spraying them with water whilst the horn is removed by chainsaw. Rhinos recover surprisingly quickly once they are injected with antidote and live long healthy lived without their massive horns.

Mankwe has been lucky to lose just one rhino during the dehorning process. Patrol was 32 years old; the most beautiful rhino bull you’ve ever seen and he had a huge horn. “He was such a character” reminisced Lynne “After the poaching he marched up and down the fence line where the poachers had entered, guarding the rest of the herd from them”. The vet gave him every possible chance; he would be the first rhino to be dehorned, early in the morning to avoid the heat. But soon after the first horn had been removed Patrol slipped away quietly. After 45 minutes of CPR (which on a bull rhino consists of 3 adult men jumping up and down on his ribcage) the vet called it and Patrol was gone. Later it was discovered that Patrol had internal injuries from the earlier poaching which prevented his recovery, but at the time it was hard to believe that all of Mankwe’s rhino weren’t set to face the same fate.

“We’ve lost. No matter what we do, we’ve lost – That was just the general feeling. The first rhino we tried to dehorn had died.”

There was no time to mourn as there were more rhino to dehorn; thankfully all younger and recovered quickly after the removal of their horns. “It was just a really, really awful day. It was extremely traumatic; one moment they’re peacefully grazing next you’re darting them and the chainsaws going and the smell of burning keratin.” Lynne recalls how difficult it was to then find somewhere to store the removed horns, “The risk had been removed from the rhino and been passed straight on to us. People have been attacked, raped and killed for less horn than we had that night. You can’t burn it, you can’t throw it away; every single horn is DNA microchipped and you have to be able to account for it when Nature Conservation come to do their audits.” Shaking her head at the absurdity of the situation, she explained how rhino horn is quickly becoming the most valuable commodity in the world. More than diamonds, cocaine or gold; there is nothing more valuable so nobody wants to touch it because it’s a death sentence. “We eventually found a vault that would take it at a huge premium; they’re the only place in the country that will store rhino horn. The horn is sitting in a vault in a box costing us 10,000 Rand a month to store”.

“There is no rhino horn at Mankwe; on an animal, in a safe, anywhere”

So what is Mankwe’s situation now? The rhinos are bankrupting the whole reserve; to protect a rhino costs £25,000 per rhino, per year.  There must be a solution to make this outrageous cost feasible. Lynne’s answer? Legalise the trade of rhino horn.

Many people will disagree with this proposal, believing that a legal supply will only increase the demand as well as exploiting this beautiful animal for its key defining feature. But crocodiles were going extinct until crocodile farming became legal in South Africa. A certain percentage now has to be released back into their natural environment by the farmers, which has been done and there are more crocodiles than the country know what to do with! There are multiple examples of species where trade was illegal, they nearly went extinct, you bring in legal trade and they bounce straight back.

“Do you know what would happen if I could even sell two horns?” Lynne is passionately fighting for the legalisation of rhino horn trade and speaks regularly at CITES and rhino stakeholder conferences.  “Just two horns could buy us anti-poaching staff to be with every rhino 24 hrs a day. I could have drones, 24h hour camera surveillance. We can’t afford any of that now and nor can the national parks; they’re going bankrupt because of rhino too. Yet they have stockpiles of horn; natural mortality, poaching scenes where the horn’s been recovered –we would all benefit by selling it.”

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Another successful dehorning, June 2017 (photo: Lynne MacTavish)

Alterations to the judicial rules in South Africa need to change too. As it stands, rangers can only shoot a poacher once they’ve been shot at themselves – but these people are trained soldiers and when pitted against a field guide it’s an easy fight. The risk needs to be higher than the reward – In other words it’s not worth killing the rhino, because it’s only got 2cm of horn on due to dehorning, the rhino has anti-poaching staff with it and if you get caught, you go away for life. Until we can establish that, the rhino are fighting a losing battle.

Most private rhino owners quickly came round to the suggestion of legalising the trade, seeing the economic benefits and safety for themselves and their rhino. Even National parks in South Africa are backing this movement due to the high cost of keeping rhino and trade being the only logical way to make a profit from them. At a stakeholders meeting Lynne spoke a, she recalls that only 15% disagreed with trade legalisation; rhino charities.

“They make money off dead rhino because they need an iconic species to be in crisis,” says Lynne. Rhino charities legally only have to give 40% of their income to the cause. The high flyers in these organisations are earning $700,000 a year. You might think that every time you donate £20 to the rhino cause that it’s coming to us but Mankwe hasn’t ever received one cent of funding from those big NGOs.

“I feel that until you’ve walked the path that we’ve walked you don’t know what’s going on and you have no right to tell me what to do with me rhino and nor does the rest of the world.” Lynne’s plea for us to spread the word of just how hopeless their hard work will have been without a change in trade legislation really hit home and thankfully word seems to be spreading.

In April 2017, the South African government legalised the domestic trade of rhino horn. By setting up a central brokerage, rhino horn gains a market value per gram the same as any other commodity. Permits will be granted to trade via a private auditing company and as it becomes more accessible, rhino horn will lose its power. In China and Vietnam, business deals are sealed with rhino horn. When the status symbol is lost, the value and allure is gone. And if it doesn’t work? Worst case scenario and the demand increase; at least rhino owners will have the money to help protect their rhino.

“We’ve let this whole industry fall into the hands of poaching syndicates, terrorists and criminals for too long” Lynne is determined that the change in South African legislation will act as a catalyst for the rest of the world.  “Legalise it and let the trade me run by economists, conservationists and scientists…let the horn be removed humanely and let the rhino survive in peace”.

If you would like to make a difference in rhino conservation and help the people on the ground at Mankwe Reserve, you can donate via this Just Giving page set up by Anna Jones, who will be running the Cheltenham half marathon to raise awareness and money for rhino conservation.

Louise Chiverton, BSc Animal Biology second-year student

Adam in Action on BBC Science in Action

BBC Radio has a very long tradition of airing a weekly round-up of the world’s science news via the BBC World Service. Science in Action, as the programme is now called, has been running in one guise or another since the 1950s and with the advent of digital radio and the internet it now reaches millions of radio and podcast listeners around the globe. Since the start of February I have been presenting Science in Action and I thought I’d share a typical week with you.

The programme first airs on Thursday evenings at 2030GMT and is available to download after the first transmission. The week starts on Friday when the producer and I begin to look through lists of papers being released in the upcoming week. These papers are embargoed until a specific date, which means we can’t transmit anything about them before that date. At this stage we’re looking for anything really “big” – a story that is, ideally, embargoed until the following Wednesday or Thursday and has a chance of being our lead story. On a good week we’ll have one or even two of these by the end of Friday, but it doesn’t always work out like that. I’ve already learnt that my producer Fi has a brilliant eye for a good story!

We’ll keep looking over the weekend, but it’s not until Monday morning when things really start to happen in earnest. More journals will have published embargoed papers by then so we have more to choose from. By lunchtime, and via various emails, we should have identified two or three stories that will form the spine of the programme and then it’s a case of lining up interviews for the Wednesday. Contributors will usually have to go to a studio where they are based unless they live in or near London. We will then conduct the interview “down the line”, meaning that I’ll ask the questions from a studio in London and they’ll answer from their studio (wherever in the world that might be), with broadcast quality recording to capture what we say. Sometimes we have to do what is called a simulrec, where I’m being recorded in a studio but the contributor is hearing me over a phone line and recording their answers, typically on a phone. They can then email us the MP3; needless to say this is something of a last resort option. Because our contributors come from all over the world it can be a serious juggling act for the producer and the team to get studios at both ends booked for the right time – a contributor in LA doesn’t want to be talking to us at 4am but likewise we don’t want to be recording the interview at 8pm!

Tuesday is a chance for us to map out a few interviews via email to get a rough idea of questions and the general direction we’ll take, although we still won’t have a clear idea of the order in which we’ll cover them. At the end of Tuesday, I download all the papers and interview sheets in preparation for Wednesday.

Wednesday morning starts at 7am with a trip to New Broadcasting House in London from my house in rural Gloucestershire…so it’s a bus, train and tube ride. The upside of the journey though is that there’s plenty of time to read and research the items we are covering and to make notes for the forthcoming interviews. I’m fielding University emails, doing some marking and a bit of admin too so it does mean having to juggle a few different things. Coffee is definitely required!

Science in Action covers any and every type of science so I could find myself reading papers on chemistry, physics, astronomy, biology, medicine, in fact pretty much anything scientific. In the week I am writing this we covered the high pressure chemistry of helium, the climate and history of liquid water on Mars, the use of bacteria to convert carbon dioxide to ethanol and the science of treating phobias with subliminal images. For any interview it is always sensible to be as well informed as you can be about the topic, so I’ll try to read all the papers and background information I can – it really helps to have an organised producer!

By the time I get to the BBC, I’m feeling reasonably well prepared but at this stage, even with a lot of phone calls and emails from the production team, we still only really have a few contributors lined up for some pretty tight studio slots. There is nothing concrete yet and plenty of things can go wrong! Given that, it’s a big relief when we get the first interview recorded. We’ll be doing three or four interviews plus a “chatty bit” where we have studio guests, so it’s a pretty much non-stop from 11am until around 530pm, or later if we have some contributors from the west coast of the USA. I’ll try to keep my questions in as a sensible order as possible to avoid too much editing and the producer can put together a rough cut of each interview as we go along. By the end of the day, if all has gone well, we could have all, or all but one, of the “slots” in the programme recorded.

By the end of Wednesday we should have a plan for the running order and most of the audio is in either a “rough cut” form or has been tidied up by technicians and is ready to broadcast. But, at this stage, we still don’t have a script for me! On Thursday, I’ll have to write the script that will introduce the programme, link the material together and end the programme, as well introduce the podcast and write the trailers that go out before the programme airs. All in, that’s about 1000 or so words to write in a couple of hours that will broadcast across the world, so a fair bit of deadline pressure! As I walk back to my (very small) hotel room in Paddington I will be thinking of how I can link the items together and perhaps developing a theme for the programme. Of course, a beer or two on the walk back helps the process along…

Thursday is another reasonably early start. I like to walk in London when I can, rather than use the tube, so as long as it’s not raining too hard I’ll walk the 2 miles to the studio and be pondering the script as I go. By the time I arrive I have enough of an idea that I can sit down and write most of the script in one hit, with a good first draft appearing by 11am. We may also have to record another interview in that time. I’ll bounce the script around a bit with producer Fi, trim it for length, or pad it out if it looks a bit short, and I’ll run through and make sure my trails (“coming up next”) and billboard (a longer trail with a clip) are spot-on for length (17 seconds and 29 seconds, exactly!). I am tinkering with the script right up until 2pm, at which point we’ll print it and head to the studio to record it. The programme itself is put together by a studio engineer as we go along so that by the time I leave the studio it is more-or-less ready to air. Sometimes this can mean re-recording parts of the script to make them a little longer or shorter and that can be quite a fiddly process – trying to change a 30 second segment of script to 32 seconds or 28 seconds is not just a case of talking at a different pace! Adding in or taking out words can change the meaning and have knock-on effects so it’s better to get it right first time…

Once I’m done it’s literally a run to the tube at Oxford Circus to try to get the 1536 from Paddington back to Gloucester. Getting that train means I get to see my daughters before they go to bed, otherwise it can turn into a bit of a late one. Thanks to the joys of laptops and internet I can use the 2 hours heading home to catch up on Uni work from the day, or, as is the case here, do a little writing. Oh, and of course I’m always keeping an eye out for stories for the next week’s programme!

Adam Hart, Professor of Science Communication. Adam’s first stint presenting Science in Action runs until the end of April.  

 

Mollie Courtney – animal biologist and international athlete!

The University of Gloucestershire is a great place to study biosciences, especially if you’re into sport. Here, one of our first year student writes about combining her sporting success with academic studies…

I have been involved in athletics since the age of 9, since when I’ve been competing for Cheltenham & County Harriers for Hurdles and High-jump. I also compete at international level, running for GB juniors for hurdles 5 times, and for England 5 times as well. This year I was fortunate enough to accompany the GB junior team to Bydgoszcz in Poland to compete in the Under 20 World Championships. I am currently ranked the 5th fastest U20 of all time in GB over 60m Hurdles and 100m Hurdles. Throughout athletics i have achieved over 10 international and national medals, including 2 consecutive national titles.

One of my main influences in choosing The University of Gloucestershire was to allow me to continue and further my athletic training. I’ve remained living at home and still train under my coach at the Prince of Wales Stadium in Cheltenham, near Francis Close Hall Campus, also as part of the uni athletics team. I also train at the University gym facilities and have full use of the Strength & Conditioning Suite at Oxstalls Campus to assist in my training.

I am also a Scholar Athlete at the University, meaning they have supported me in many ways in funding and use of facilities. The University also supports me as Talented Athlete Scholarship Scheme athlete, involving a medical scheme, funding and lifestyle assistance. My timetable in Biosciences has allowed me to create a flexible timetable to allow me to train and fit in work. The University’s campuses allow me to train, attend lectures and work on site every day, a great combination.

Mollie Courtney, BSc Animal Biology student

Lucy on life at UoG and winning the OUP ‘Achievement in Biosciences’ prize

Lucy Murrell

I cannot believe that my three years studying BSc Biology at UoG are over! My time here has been exhilarating, full of ups and downs but with the help of the lecturers, staff and fellow students I feel I have developed beyond belief, both as a scientist and potential employee. Looking back to the very first time I visited the University in March 2013, it would have been hard to imagine myself standing where I am now. The prospect of coming to University, living away from home and studying at a much higher academic level was daunting, but at every step there has been so much support and guidance from moving into halls, to handing in that first assignment to the relief of handing in my dissertation just a few short months ago.

Choosing Biology as a subject to study was always something I had hoped to do. There is such a broad range of topics to study which gives you a much deeper understanding of the environment and ecology around you and the necessity for management from a microscopic to global scale. With second year came the option to start to choose the direction that you individually wanted to take your studies with a range of modules to choose from. By far my favourite module and something that I will consider not only a highlight of my university experience, but also a life changing experience was the field course to South Africa. Gaining the perspective of game management and all the challenges that reserve managers face with poaching from such experts has changed my views on conservation and management forever, and is a great talking point in interviews!

Other modules that I have found particularly enjoyable and beneficial from a skills development view have included second year Ecological Impact Assessment and management, GIS, equine biology and third year advanced scientific skills, microbial biotechnology and of course completing a dissertation. Through my university time I feel I have developed a range of transferable skills and those assignments which focus on industry skills particularly will highlight you from the rest of the crowd at interviews. I feel that I can now confidently conduct a broad range of research and scientific investigation, write reports to a professional standard as well as deliver presentations to a range of audiences, something I never thought that I would ever be able to do! The skills learnt on my degree course also gave me the confidence and knowledge needed to run the UoG first aid society as president for two years and volunteer for St John Ambulance throughout my university time. These skills have helped me to obtain my dream of securing a position to develop a deeper understanding of medicine with a job working for London Ambulance Service. I hope to spend a few years training with them and then potentially go on to further study to do a Masters in Biology and Medicine.

I recently found out that I was nominated for the Oxford University Press ‘Achievement in Biosciences’ prize as well as finding out I successfully graduated with a first class degree. This really feels like the pinnacle of my time at university and makes me so grateful for all support and guidance that I have received from all the staff and students that has enabled me to achieve so much.  Thank you to everyone who has given their time and knowledge to help me through the three most challenging but most rewarding years of my life!

Lucy Murrell, BSc (Hons) Biology 2016

To find out more about our courses, visit www.glos.ac.uk/sciences

Rachel Tapping: our prize-winning #UnexpectedScientist

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Rachel at work on her dissertation

At UGlosBioscience, our dissertation projects are the capstone of our degrees and the chance to do your own original science project, with support from our academics and technicians. Here, one of our disseration students writes about some fringe benefits of working on her project…!

Doing a microbiology dissertation has required me to spend countless hours in the lab over the last two semesters. Whilst I love microbiology lab work, I can’t deny that it is a nice change to get out of the lab now and then to do something completely different. I had just such an opportunity recently thanks to a competition on Instagram!

Last November Defence Science and Technology Laboratories asked for people to upload scientific selfies captioned ‘#UnexpectedScientist’ to be in with a chance of visiting their explosives facility at Fort Halstead, Kent. Given how much time I spend in the lab, it was all too easy for me to snap a shot of myself working on my dissertation research. Several weeks after posting my #UnexpectedScientist selfie, I was contacted by DSTL with their congratulations on being one of the selected winners of the competition. So, on 11th February I found myself at the Fort Halstead facility with my fellow winners.

We were taken to one of the onsite explosives ranges where we were given a demonstration of various explosions and detonations (which are, I now know, not the same thing!). Then the opportunity arose for one of our number to press the button on the final explosive; it was to be whoever answered the technician’s questions first. Unfortunately my lack of knowledge when it comes to physics meant that I was not the person with their finger on the detonator, though I was still a front row spectator to some truly amazing pyrotechnics!

Next we were given a challenge. We were taken to a room where a dummy ‘bomb’ sat in a box and various planks of wood, lengths of rope and pulleys awaited us. Our task was to create a system that could lift the ‘bomb’ from its box and safely deposit it into another. We could use any of the materials that were set out and the only stipulation was that we must operate our system from the other side of the room. After a couple of failed attempts and copious amounts of duct tape we finally succeeded in moving the ‘bomb’.

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The challenge… to move a dummy ‘bomb’

Our last stop was back outside to see the ‘Wheelbarrow’, a bomb disposal robot capable of being operated remotely or by handheld controls. Though not the most awe inspiring of names, the machinery itself was amazing and we were told all about its use in the field. We were given the chance to operate the Wheelbarrow for ourselves and I will admit that it took me a while to work out the controls, but I soon got the hang of it and the technicians were in some danger of being run over.

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‘The Wheelbarrow’

All too soon my visit had come to an end and it was time to leave the facility. DSTL and the staff I met at Fort Halstead had given me the most fantastic and unique experience that will stay with me for a long time to come. Though, given my ineptitude for ‘bomb’ removal and reckless Wheelbarrow driving, I don’t think I’ll be leaving microbiology for bomb disposal any time soon!

Rachel Tapping, BSc Animal Biology final year student

Students raise funds for rhinos

Field courses are a highlight of our degree courses. Here, three of our final year students write about their 2015 trip to South Africa and some fundraising by @UoGBioSociety. The 2016 trip leaves on Saturday 7 May, and you can keep in touch via the Twitter hashtag #UoGMankwe

Recently we held a fundraiser in the campus bar, raising £471.13 for Mankwe Wildlife Reserve in South Africa. Mankwe is situated in North West Province, with around 48 species of large mammal, 400 species of bird, as well as species of reptile, small mammal and insects. For more information have a look on their website. In October 2014 Mankwe was hit badly by poachers, losing 2 adult rhino and one full-term calf, and then their bull rhino shortly after. One of the adult rhinos that died left a young calf who survived for nearly a year before she died. We visited Mankwe in May 2015 and spent nearly 2 weeks there. While we were there we experienced first-hand the daily challenges that staff face when trying to protect the rhino. Mankwe is one of the destinations for the second year residential field course, and UGlosBioscience students have been raising money for them for the last 3 years.

 

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The 2015 UGlosBioscience group

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Jimbo: one of the Mankwe calves born since the poaching

 

Brad and SJ spent 4 days of our visit studying rhino behaviour and got to appreciate each one individually and see how important they are to the ecosystem. While Ellie studied large mammal movements in response to heat sources.

Three of the rhino at Mankwe

As part of our event we had a raffle with over £200 of prizes donated from local retailers, live music, cake sale, bug eating contest, bug holding contest, as well as other events.

UoG Unplugged Society playing the event

Bug-eating contest!

The money will be going out to Mankwe this May and will be used to help the anti-poaching unit. Since we visited them there has been many births, as such they need extra money to protect them.

We want to thank everyone who donated money and prizes. If anyone would like to donate there is still time, please email s1302809@connect.glos.ac.uk

Many thanks,

Sarah-Jane Smith, Brad Bignell and Ellie Woolway.

Final year Biology/Animal Biology students

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