Posts Tagged ‘Biosphere Expeditions’

Taster Days—Try Out Being a Conservation Biologist

Photo: Biosphere Expeditions

Remember Career Day in school, when a few fathers and mothers would come to your class and talk about what they did for a living? “Hi kids, I’m a firefighter” “My work as a college professor is very rewarding” “You, too, could be a CPA if you study hard and stay in school” (Never did we get an astronaut in Mrs. Spencer’s class—it was the only thing I really wanted to hear about…though firefighter–at the time, fireman–was pretty cool too).

In the realm of responsible travel, you can now check out conservation and volunteer research holidays with Taster Days from Biosphere Expeditions. One roadblock for many people when they are first toying with the idea of a service travel vacation, is how much work it will entail, and whether they really want to give up valuable vacation time. (It is rarely a problem AFTER someone does it the first time. Volunteer vacationers have a remarkable recidivism rate.) Now you can try it on for size. Spend a day in the field with Biosphere Expeditions to get hands-on knowledge of what it is like assisting research scientists delving into wildlife and conservation issues. You may be setting camera traps, finessing the telemetry tracking systems, manning the GPS, collecting data on flora and fauna, and reading animal tracks.

The Taster Days are coming up in the UK on June 26 and July 17—there are also Taster Days in Germany, Finland, and Australia. The majority of the fee (about US$100 for a full day, 9-5) is applied to the cost of a full conservation trip should you choose to go whole hog. As their catchphrase so aptly says, “You won’t know until you try.”

Humans vs. Cheetahs-Mediators Needed

It’s a gray, soggy morning here in the Northeast, and I’m not moving too quickly. It would be a perfect day to just laze around in bed all day watching the rain. The antidote to this kind of day may just be this great wildlife conservation/volunteer trip from Biosphere Expeditions—you couldn’t get much more opposite: dry, hot Namibia and focused on cheetahs, the fastest land animals on earth.

85% of our world’s cheetahs are in Namibia, and that fact is lamented by the ranchers in that area who lose domesticated herd animals to hunting cheetahs. The meal of choice of the cheetahs is not necessarily ranch livestock, but optimal food sources are growing ever more scarce as the delicate balance tips even further away from natural order. The result is that farmers and ranchers see cheetahs as enemies, and shoot to kill to eradicate the threat to their livelihood. Humans are the biggest threat to the survival of these magnificent cats.

Your role as a conservation volunteer would include collecting data in the Khomas Hochland region (being fully trained by scientific research staff) to help Biosphere continue their good work resolving human/predator conflict.

“We believe there is enough space in this region for farmers and cheetahs to easily tolerate one another; cheetahs only attack valuable livestock and game species if there are not enough smaller, wild prey animals present,” said Kathy Wilden, Strategy Director of Biosphere Expeditions.

“Our new expedition aims to provide scientific proof and guidelines for farm management to address the issue. The results of our work will be used to create ways in which there can be peaceful co-existence between humans and big cat predators. This in turn will support a sustainable future for all in central Namibia.”

The 12-night expeditions run in November and December or between January and March.

For more information  visit

Endangered Big Cat Volunteering

I’m going to bet you don’t yet have a stamp from Oman in your passport. Here’s a chance to get one.

Biosphere Expeditions has a 12-day research/volunteer trip to Oman to help leading researchers with their work trying to study and protect the endangered Arabian Leopard. This isn’t a safari or tour, but a working volunteer vacation for a conservation project in the remote Dhofar region. This mountainous area is one of the last remaining habitats for the sleek cats.

The scientific team leading the expedition is from the Royal Omani Court, and they will train you in field techniques as you track, research, set camera traps, and add to the existing base of knowledge to hopefully reverse the decimation of these regal leopards.

You’ll get dirty, you’ll have unexpected moments of magic and grace in the field, and you’ll work in a new (to you–I’m still betting) area with an international team of passionate fellow volunteers and experts.

Hmmmm–what do I wear to Oman?

Biosphere Expeditions

turtleTin or Aluminum—those are the traditional gifts to celebrate the tenth anniversary (Really? Here Dear…here’s a can…or some lovely foil)

2009 is the ten year anniversary of the launch of conservation travel company, Biosphere Expeditions. Keep your tin pie pan, but think about using Biosphere for vacation planning. This UK-based charitable holiday company has several trips in destinations not well-covered by other voluntour providers. In addition to animal projects in Brazil, Peru, or Honduras, more esoteric offerings include: A snow leopard conservation excursion in the Altai in Central Asia; Arabian leopards in Oman; Whales, dolphins, and sea turtles in the Azores; and wolves and lynx in Slovakia.

Projects are always designed and run by local scientists so you’ll avoid that whole overlording-experts-from-far-away-telling-local-communities-what-they-need dynamic. Immerse yourself in a two-week project, a briefer one-week program, or “taster” weekends, if the boss won’t give you enough time off.

Happy Anniversary!