The first African team of 2006 joined Michelle Hamer's South Africa's Hidden Species from 9-19th January, the first of over 100 African fellows who will benefit from Earthwatch's African Capacity Development Programme this year.
Eight fellows were nominated to join the team by Earthwatch partners in Africa, including the Tropical Biology Association, Cameroon Biodiversity Conservation Society and Nature Conservation Research Centre, Ghana.
The fellows, from Kenya, Uganda, Madagascar, Ghana and Cameroon, met in Durban, South Africa before being transported to the research site in the Drakensburg region KwaZulu-Natal. They spent the next two weeks investigating the impact of burning strategies on South Africa's invertebrates.
The team returned from the field with a positive training experience centred on learning new methodologies for identifying, sampling and surveying invertebrates, along with sessions conducted by Dr Michelle Hamer on developing, writing and assessing research proposals, giving presentations, and data analysis techniques.
Earthwatch Capacity Development teams offer the additional opportunity for networking between conservationists from all over Africa. The fellows reported the benefits gained of experiencing a new culture and working with team mates from many different countries.
Team fellow Andrinajoro Rakotoarivelo said: "I had the opportunity to meet and share ideas with students from all horizons on the present problems of the environment, and to receive training from international experts.
"It boosted my skills of handling and dealing with people from different background," says Kennedy Odhiambo. "This will go further in helping me deliver my duties especially when dealing with different communities."