Friday, October 26, 2012

Dr. Ponder's Pinzón Journal Entry #1

Preparing to return to Galápagos

To our TRC friends;

Dr. Ponder is preparing once more to head to the Galápagos Islands.  She will submit journal entries of her activities, which we are thrilled to share with you.  Read this media alert with background on the project.  

Dear Friends,

It is hard to believe it has been almost two years since our first project in the Galápagos Islands. As I prepare to return for the next phase, I am excited with a bit of trepidation - it is comforting to know a lot of what to expect and yet there are many new unknowns with a new island and a new population of hawks. Once again, we will be trapping the hawks and managing them in temporary captivity to remove them from the risk of exposure to harm during the eradication of the invasive rats. The first round of islands we did in early 2011 was really a pilot to test our methods in preparation for the one we are doing this time. This new island presents new challenges with an incredible opportunity to make a dramatic impact on the survival of an iconic species – the Pinzón Giant Tortoise.

Pinzón Giant Tortoise
 The Pinzón Giant Tortoise is considered extinct in the wild as invasive rodents have eaten all eggs and hatchlings for over 145 years. The population of these long-lived animals is aging and new recruits have to be bred in captivity. Eradication of invasive rodents will allow successful reproduction again. I can’t tell you how exciting it is that our work, which will allow the rodent eradication project to proceed, will pave the way for the restoration of the tortoise!

Pinzón Giant Tortoise
 With my departure coming soon, there is much to do in preparation. My colleagues in Galápagos have made several trips to the island to survey the population so that we know how many hawks to expect. They have also identified trapping areas and started acclimation of the hawks to feeding at those. Back here in Minnesota, we have reviewed our notes from our last effort, tweaked our plan and have begun to collect all the supplies necessary for “Raptor Field Hospital.” Thanks again this time to 3M Foundation for providing medical supplies for our trip. Hopefully, we will not need anything more than the most basic of supplies, but we will be prepared to deal with whatever we may face.

Stay tuned to this blog for updates as we tackle this exciting project over the next two months!  
- Juli

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