Date published: February 17, 2016
Trip to the Amazon rainforest goes down a storm with Wildlife Conservation students
A trip to the Amazon rainforest went down a storm with 35 Wildlife Conservation and Zoology students from the School of Environment and Life Sciences.
Arranged and led by lecturers Dr Jean Boubli, Dr Robert Jehle and attended by Dr Chiara Benvenuto and Professor Stephen Martin, students are now calling this ‘the trip of a lifetime’ after they spent their time spotting endangered animals on the brink of extinction, exploring a variety of tropical ecosystems, and amongst other things swimming with pink Amazon river dolphins in the wild.
The students and lecturers were based in the city of Manaus, at the centre of the Amazon rainforest, and during the two week trip spent most of their time completing tasks, such as species presence transects and the identification of tropical flora and fauna. All this activity transformed what they had learnt in the classroom into reality.
From classroom to reality
The first week of the trip began with students visiting the “the meeting of the waters”, this is the point where two of Amazon River’s largest tributaries - a smaller river that flows into a bigger ‘parent’ river - converge but never mix. This meeting of the waters and network of waterways creates a huge variety of unique habitats and supports an exceptional diversity of wildlife.
There was also a trip to inspect the extensive collection of Amazonian species preserved at the National Institute of Amazonia (INPA) and a trip to Museu Da Amazonia (MUSA), where, most memorably, students climbed up an amazing 42m observation tower overlooking the rainforest canopy and saw amongst other things a sleepy three toed sloth up close and a troop of red howler monkey.
In the second week, the lecturers and students changed digs to live on two huge houseboats, floating up and down key rivers around Manaus. This gave them a beautiful view of the rivers and enabled the group to stop at numerous locations to experience the rich biodoversity up close. Along the way students visited a deserted city, Airão Velho, where the Portuguese created an outpost in 1694, which was instrumental in the development of rubber plantations and they also got an audience with the “Hermit of the Jungle” Mr Shigeru Nakayama whom guards and protects this ghost city which is so rich in Amazonian history.
Playing football with an indigenous community
Students were also able to venture out to observe spectacled caimans, visit various national parks including a turtle conservation centre, and were even lucky enough to dive in to the Rio Negro to spend time swimming with Amazon river dolphins.
Our wildlife students are well aware that indigenous communities are at the heart of global conservation efforts and there was very much a people dimension to the whole trip. Towards the end of the trip students spent time visiting an indigenous community called “New Hope” and after learning about their daily lives and interactions with the forest, our students ended up playing a few games of football with the community.
Trip of a lifetime
Mature student, Richard Moore said of the trip: “No words can do this trip the justice it deserves. We really want to say thanks to Dr Boubli, colleagues and to Professor Judith E Smith, Dean of School, for making this trip happen. All the students really do appreciate that Dr Boubli probably had to jump many hurdles to arrange the trip and for this we are all truly appreciative. Surely there can be no better wildlife student experience than #Brazil2k16.”
Lecturers and in particular Dr Jean Boubli have been praised for their endeavour in organising the trip and providing exceptional learning opportunities. Plans are already underway to take next year's Tropical Ecology cohort somewhere equally exciting and the school are in the process of releasing details of the brand new MSc Wildlife Conservation programme for 2016/2017.
If you know a teacher, like Dr Jean Boubli, who has had a life-changing impact on you through their innovative and practical teaching methods you should nominate them for the Students' Union teaching awards. Click here to nominate.