The First of the Earthwatch 2004 Lecture Series Thursday 1 April 2004, The Royal Geographical Society, London
Earthwatch is launching its 2004 lecture series on Thursday 1st April at the Royal Geographical Society, London, where two Earthwatch scientists will aim to reveal how despite ecological changes, wildlife populations in South Africa are being restored.
Attendees at the lecture will hear how one Earthwatch research project is helping to protect the African Penguin, probably one of the world's most threatened penguins, as well as how a pioneering study of invertebrates could lead to the creation of a biodiversity conservation strategy in one of the country's most famous wildlife areas.
Two major oil spills in the last few years have resulted in the deaths of around 7,000 African penguins, and have had a devastating effect on the breeding season of these unusual birds. However, the impact would have been much worse without the dedicated efforts of a team of volunteers and biologists, who cleaned thousands of birds and returned them to the wild. Marine and avian biologist Professor Les Underhill (University of Cape Town) will describe his work with Earthwatch volunteers on the South African Penguins project, monitoring around 500 African penguin nests every year, and will also recount the dramatic events of the clean-up operation and relocation effort.
Fairy shrimps and butterflies, carnivorous slugs, earthworms and pill bugs are amongst the invertebrates which are essential to the recycling of nutrients within an ecosystem and act as vital components of the food web. Yet they are often excluded from conservation and management activities, due to a lack of sound scientific data.
Dr. Michelle Hamer (from the University of Natal) and Earthwatch volunteers aim to address this need through surveys in one of South Africa's most famous wildlife areas: Mkhuze and the adjacent Phinda Game Reserve. As part of the first comprehensive survey of South African invertebrates on the Earthwatch project South Africa's Hidden Species, volunteers have contributed towards the development of a biodiversity conservation strategy by setting and monitoring insect traps, walking transects with nets, and panning streams for aquatic fauna.
This Earthwatch lecture offers the chance for members of the general public to hear some remarkable stories from the experts whose inspirational work is vital for the conservation of these species.
Date: Thursday 1st April. Doors open at 6:30pm for the lectures at 7pm. Lectures are followed by a cash bar with sandwiches open to all at 8:30pm.
Location: The Royal Geographical Society, 1 Kensington Gore, London, SW7 2AR (nearest tube South Kensington)
There is no charge to attend the lectures, although admission is by ticket only. Please call to reserve a place on 01865 318856.