Saturday, September 08, 2012

News for the week

Jonathan reports that Victor now weighs 102 kg! He is eating 70% of his daily diet in plants and has been reduced to 1 bottle feeding a day, so we're thrilled that his transition to plants is going incredibly well! The trick is to keep Victor gaining weight while he's weaned from the high calorie milk formula onto a diet of plants, and so far Jonathan and the Gabonese team are succeeding with flying colors!! I hope to post more photos of our pudgy friend soon.

In other news, my colleague Aimee Sanders and I have started work on a new West African manatee educational video that will feature Victor as well as other footage of manatees, their habitat, and conservation efforts throughout the species range. We plan to produce it in 4 languages (English, French, Spanish and Portuguese) so that it can be used in all African countries where the West African manatee occurs. We hope to release it next spring, after Victor's release, so that we can include that event in the video. We are also creating an English version of our Save the African Manatee t-shirts to be used in educational outreach efforts in English speaking African countries.

I'm now back in Florida for a few months and starting my stable isotope analysis of the many reference plant, mollusk, and fish species I collected in Senegal this summer. It's very interesting for me to learn this new technique, which will identify what manatees are eating in different parts of their range. This in turn will help us understand important food sources and seasonal habitat needs for the species. I'll also continue my genetics analysis this Fall, and my colleague Katie Brill is already working to age the 18 new ear bones I brought back from Africa. So hopefully lots of exciting new information is coming soon!

2 species of freshwater catfish in the drying oven. Once fully desicated they will be ground into powder for stable isotope analysis.
The week ended very nicely when I received news from the Disney Worldwide Conservation Fund that my project has been awarded a grant for the 5th consecutive year in a row! I'm so grateful to have such loyal funders! Thank you Disney!!