Tuesday, February 23, 2010
African Manatee Work Goes Regional!!
As many of you know, it has been my hope for the past several years to create a regional network of African manatee researchers to increase communication, data collection efforts and collaboration between people working in different countries. Manatee research in Africa is still in its infancy and many people who are trying to get started have told me they feel isolated because they are the only person or organization working on manatees in their country. Additionally, people are looking for guidance on how to develop studies and begin fieldwork. And often, they don't have even basic field equipment such as binoculars, GPS units or environmental sampling tools.
For the past two years I have co-taught training workshops in Ghana for African researchers from 12 different countries, but funding for those workshops is now finished. So I am very excited to report that I have recently received my biggest grant to date from the U.S. Marine Mammal Commission to continue training and building the regional network! This will allow me to both bring researchers to active study sites in Africa to get practical experience in manatee surveys, tagging and tracking, necropsies, genetics sampling, and for me to go to some other sites to work with researchers in their home countries. It will also allow me to get some basic equipment to collaborators in need so they can get accurate manatee data in their countries. There are still alot of challenges to overcome, but I'm really looking forward to helping train and expand manatee research throughout the range of the species. So thanks very much to the Commssion for giving me this opportunity!