miércoles, 20 de julio de 2016

Godalming College True Adventure Expedition Blog: day 6 and 7

Day 6.

After a rewarding and hard working week, the penultimate day of the project was spent “in the wild” journeying to and exploring the Cloud Forest. 


The field trip allowed the team to experience the natural habitat of the frogs we have been working with over the week. Sophia and Gabriel kindly accompanied the group, guiding members through the jungle terrain. Navigating among trees, vines and steep declines provided a further challenge to the activity, but nevertheless the task of hunting for frogs was enjoyed. During the trip we were also educated upon the five species which can be found in the forest and the causes of a recent extinction. For example the presence of a fungus, commonly found in colder climates. Which interfers with the diffusion of oxygen via thickening of the frog´s skin. This has led to the hypothesised extinction of one specific species, which has not been seen for ten years. Continuing the theme of ´frogspotting´ from earlier in the True Adventure team project, the frog guerilla tactics unfortunately led to no direct frog sightings. Although, this was likely more a result of frog sleeping habits (the majority of activity occuring later in the day rather than in the morning) as opposed to devious amphibians. 

The return journey consisted of a scenic lunch break with a lagoon as the backdrop to classic English cheese rolls and crisps. The Cloud Forest trip provided an alternative view of conservation, and of the Bolivian Amphibian Intiative, allowing the team to both rest before our final day of the project in Cochabamba, and to explore a refreshingly new part of Bolivia. The contrast between the cool forest and the heat of the previous days and the opportunity to search for frogs in the wild, made the day a clear highlight of this portion of our trip.

Day 7. 

The last day of our project with the Bolivian Amphibian Initiative, was spent continuing the tasks of the 18th of July. Initally both of the two teams collected nutrition for the frogs: woodlice and worms. Teams either searched in worm beds or around the museum grounds and then had the opportunity to directly feed the frogs.Container two, the tanks and the laboratory were the main settings of the morning. Team members then recorded the type of food, the number of frogs who were suceessfully fed and any abnormalities. This activity gave insight into the daily running of the project, and  the chance to observe the frogs on a much closer level. After a short break the afternoon contained further use of the colourimeter to test the levels of chemicals such as anomia, nitrite and the hardness of the water (level of calcium carbonate) assessing the quality of the water, using samples from the project itself. The water quality is a vital portion of the project as an imbalance in a certain chemical can negatively impact the frogs, for example mating success or even survival. Meanwhile, the other team aided with management of the collection, recording details for the inventory. A notable example being a giant frog from Lake Titicaca. The team also reflected upon the overall project, commenting that the variety of tasks during the week made for a highly diverse and interesting project. The opportunity to practice Spanish and see tasks through from beginning to end, made for a fulfilling week. Many thanks to the Museo de Historia Natural Alcide d'Orbigny and the Bolivian Amphibian Initiative, for the unique access we have had to the world of conservation and special thanks to Adriana, Sophia and Gabriel. We wish the project all the best in the future.  

martes, 19 de julio de 2016

Godalming College True Adventure Expedition Blog: day 5

After a day of resting and exploring Cochabamba,  the eager Godalming College team set out for another dedicated day of hard work. With transport changes due to protests splitting the group into 2 units, Adam, Lucy, Rachael and Carys arrived on the scene first and began work on the fish tank. Adam started with cutting polystyrene which was crucial to the maintenance of the tank. Lucy and Rachael both set off in search for worms for feeding the frogs. Carys embarked upon a mission of stone cutting for the improved frog tank, and moved on to cleaning out the cockroaches with fresh fruit and vegetables with Sophia. Soon after Izzy, Emma, Charlie, Abi and Becki arrived and started work on collecting woodlice for feeding the frogs along with the worms.  After catching hundreds they moved into the lab and container 1 and 2 to feed all the frogs. Emma fed all the frogs in the lab with woodlice and enjoyed the task despite frustrating location attempts. Becki and Sophia moved into container 2 and fed the frogs, woodlice and worms while Charlie and Abi explored th tanks serving the frogs worms and woodlice


After lunch, Sophia gave her first English presentation of frogs and the importance of water quality. This gave the team an insight into the process of protecting endangered frogs. After this presentation, an unwell Abi was sent to the hostel to rest along with Becki and the remaining team split into two for the following tasks. Charlie, Emma, Izzy and Rachael began work on water quality and checking the alkalinity, nitrite, ammonium, phosphate, hardness and PH of various water types.

Meanwhile, Lucy, Carys and Adam accepted the task of detailing and creating an inventory for all the preserved species for scientific studying purposes. This gave the group the opportunity to explore and learn about various species of frogs, lizards and snakes. After investigating 56 various species, the group swapped over with other half of the team and managed to widen their knowledge on water usage in ecosystems.

lunes, 18 de julio de 2016

Godalming College True Adventure Expedition Blog: day 4

Day 4

The day kicked off with Emma and abi finishing off yesterdays sanding of the door and replenishing the paint on the Wood. This was done efficiently amd precisely, with only a little discomfort accompanying the fact that they were instrructed to clean their hands with 100% gasoline.

Meanwhile, Adam, Becki and Rachael were directed towards a tiny room which needed to be thouroughly cleaned out and fixed up. After a somewhat interesting encounter with a pile of  plaster dust, several bags of rubbish and a lot of spiders, it was discovered that there was toilet in the back of the room. So naturally, they took a hammer to it. Once the toilet had been removed and the pipe yanked from its resting place it was soon realised that whilst taking out the loo they had also taken out several chunks of the Wall/ceiling. This led to the next job. Cementing the holes in the Wall and filling the cracks. This kept Adam and becki busy for the rest of the afternoon, with only a litle bit of misdirect(ed cement falling on becki.  

Becki was excited to learn that in Bolivia brackets (for shelves) are known as “pied de amigo” which translates to feet of friends

Lucy, Carys, Izzy and Charlie spent their day with the important but seemingly easy task of removing the frogs from their tank and renewing some of the decorations. Moving the tank itself was hard enough, this however was rendered easy by comparison when it took six people more than six hours to catch just  three frogs. This being due to the massive tunnel that had formed between the front and back sides of the tank. Therefore much cajoling involving flashlights from phones and gloved hands was used in order to get the frogs into an accesible place. Superficial repairs to the tank´s paint was attempted but due to the oliaginousness of one frog, nothing revolutionary could be done. We decided to call the last frog standing ´stubborn´, for our unwillingness to admit that his intelligence outranked ours. 

In the latter part of the day, after a well deserved lunch, the antics continued. A school presentation halted the progress of the frog hunt, but many more tasks were on offer. Rachael, Lucy and Abi took to painting the worm beds constructed yesterday, whilst Charlie, Izzy and Carys filled the beds with precompost. Upon finishing the job they moved to fill a hole surrounding a water tank.

Whilst writing this very post, shouts of elation could be heard from downstairs. Immediately we knew that ´Stubborn´ the frog had finally, after nearly nine hours, been captured. We ran as quickly as posible to get a photo, and the day ended on a high


viernes, 15 de julio de 2016

Godalming College True Adventure Expedition Blog: day 3

Day 3:
Despite the later than normal sleeping hours due to a delayed dinner, we were all eager to commit to the day`s work that lay ahead of us. Once we had arrived at the Museo de Historia Natural Alcede’d Dorbigny all individuals sprung into action, continuing tasks in progress as well as taking on new activities.
The already nailed-together wooden panels, created to construct the sides of the worm beds, were transported by member of Group 1 Rachael to their final destination and assembled, with the addition of specificially shaped wooden planks cut by our newest local face Saoul.  The inside of this newly assebled wall was given a penultimate coat of white paint,  beautifully brushed on by Becky.

Carys and Izzy filled their morning with a multitude of tasks, from painting bare wooden worm bed panels to helping the pre-compost team by ensuring a constant flow of water to moisten the mulch.
A Group 2 team of Charlie and Emma set about scavenging for leaves to include in the pre-compost mixture, switching to clearing debris and helping to ferry water from pipe to pre-compost throughout the morning.

In the greenhouse Lucy and Rachael spent a portion of their morning sifting through the earth-filled beds in search of worms, which would be used to feed the frogs.
Adam and Abi of Group 1 were joined by enthusiastic Adriana in mixing the pre-compost, in a fashion much like yesterday, by getting literally stuck in! As a colletive, everyone supported the efforts of the pre-compost crew by occasionally taking over mixing or providing materials needed to build up the mulch.

After an ice cream escapade during the lunch break, a brief rest was appreciated outside before a new array of activities was on offer. To the team`s relief no more attention was given to mixing the pre-compost, sparing the clothes and noses of those involved!
One activitity undertaken by Adam and Becky was to brush a fresh coat of white paint on top of the frog-inhabited trailer as well as the uninhabited tráiler, slowly edging forwards with the use of 2 planks for kneeling on each.

As for the Godalming college students, the afternoon was spent completing the foundations of worm bed, lined with platic tarpaulin and sectioned, to be filled with the mixed compost and bottled, sugary bacteria solution at a later date, to allow the worms to thrive. Within the greenhouse, fish tank exteriors were sprayed black which began the slowing down of work by the Godalming College volunteers as the sun eroded away.

After a tiring but thoroughly rewarding day of finishing the worm bed at last, the Godalming colege group is in for a relaxing and enjoyable evening as a team.

Godalming College True Adventure Expedition Blog: Day 2

Day 2:
After a solid night´s sleep, we were eager and determined to complete the day´s tasks ahead. Adam and Becki, the college and True Adventure team leaders, swapped groups in order to keep abreast of the valuable contributions being made by all members. Group 1 were tasked with deconstructing a small, dilapidated outbuilding with the mission of creating a compost store by the end of the day. Becki and co thoroughly enjoyed demolishing the interior wall and decluttering the several bags, bricks and rubble that lay on the ground. 

Group 1´s success is borne out through their tidy and washed outhouse floor with Becki and Carys trying their hand at brickmaking. Here is a before and after shot of the building. 

The pre-compost was then transferred into its new fashionable outhouse with an army of Group 1 troops running to collect water from the tap to pour over the pre-compost. The pre-compost comprises non-descript manure, dry leaves, saw dust and copious amounts of water mixed together to create a dusty mulch.
Group 2 were instructed to create de tablas by nailing bars to fasten them together, further sanding of wood, finalizing chancaka breakdown and creating and pouring cement on the incline structure for the worm bed. 
The group`s split but concerted efforts were highly productive. In the afternoon capitalising on a morning of construction, Adam and Charlie created and poured the cement ready for application

 Abi and Gabriel were responsible for smoothing down the cement on top of the freshly laid bricks from yesterday´s Group 1 assembly 

After a morning of sanding down wood for de tablas, Issie and Emma painstakingly reduced down the chancaka into bacteria food for our wonderful worms.

If we felt satisfied by the end of Day 1, we were feeling very proud of our efforts by the end of Day 2 with both groups continuing until ten past six. We look forward to a very messy trip to the supermarkets for our evening of decadence.

Visitors helping amphibian conservation in Bolivia

There is strength in numbers, this is a reality, if we are working for something, in this case for amphibian conservation we think working together can make a difference. In this occasion we have the visit of a group of enthusiast students from the Godalming College United Kingdom. They are visiting us for a couple of days, but not just that, but also in this period they are going to help us with the work we are doing with amphibian conservation. It really makes a difference to work together and all this work is going to the frogs, the frogs that are in need of help and this is the story of this teamwork for the conservation.

Following days we are going to post some updates of this work and we invite you to follow us.

Godalming College True Adventure Expedition Blog:
Day 1:
After a tiring night bus journey from Potosi to Cochabamba, the Godalming College True Adventure entourage arrived outside the Museo de Historia Natural Alcede’d Dorbigny excited for the challenging opportunities that lay ahead. After perusing the many fossils, tanks and habitats that exhibited the lives of a wealth of amphibian creatures in the public museum, we were greeted upstairs to our initial presentations on the conservation focus. Gabriel, Adriana, Sophia and Eliana introduced themselves as our key colleagues of the project offering fascinating insights into the endangered lives of frogs, particularly around Lake Titicaca. The expedition´s elected team leader, Issie, organised us into two groups and we experienced a tour of the public museum with further relevant information as well as the two containers occupying our amphibian friends, worm beds and the outdoor work areas.
Tour in the facilities of the captive breeding program 

We returned from lunch with Group 1 (Lucy, Abi, Rachael, Adam) beginning by sanding down de tablas in order to construct the foundations for the worm bed. These were then painted and sawed to measure. 

Group 2 (Charlie, Carys, Emma, Issie, Becki) split themselves into transferring the pre-compost from the work area, constructing an earth incline for the worm bed and by breaking down the chankaca into milk and sugar in order to create bacteria for the compost to feed the worms. 

These tasks were swapped over with Group 1 finalising the earth incline construction by precisely placing bricks along it in preparation for cementing and Group 2 finishing de tablas and the bacteria food production 

Even though we had only worked the afternoon, we all felt exhausted yet satisfied.