Shrewsbury School

Biology Department Expedition to Guyana

Monday 14 September 2015

During the summer holidays, 22 Salopians and four staff members travelled to Guyana to undertake conservation work in the Iwokrama Forest – a protected area deep inside the largest undisturbed tract of tropical rainforest in the world. The area boasts some of the highest biodiversity in the world and many of the species found there exist nowhere else.

The objective was to gather data to contribute to an annual monitoring programme used to understand changes in abundance and diversity of wildlife, as well as the effects of "reduced impact logging".

The team spent their first day in Guyana at Kaieteur Falls – one of the world’s greatest, most unspoilt and least known waterfalls. The falls are about 60km from the Brazilian border and not far from Mount Roraima, the inspiration behind Conan Doyle’s Lost World. A group of Salopians visited the falls exactly 20 years ago, where they celebrated the 60th birthday of the legendary Salopian Schoolmaster Michael Hall.

After returning to Georgetown, a ten-hour drive south took the group to Iwokrama Research Centre, where three days were spent training to gather the skills to gather data accurately, sleep safely in the forest in hammocks, use machetes (or cutlasses as they are known) and fully appreciate the importance of the work we were doing.

A further three-hour drive south in two Bedford four-tonne trucks took the team to Surama, an Amerindian village belonging to the Machushi Tribe, where three days of surveys for mammals, bats and herpetofauna were undertaken. The team then walked deeper into the jungle, spending a further three days at Carahaa Landing – a jungle camp on the banks of the Burro Burro River where birds, forestry and dung beetles were surveyed.

The team then walked deeper into the jungle, spending a further three days at Carahaa Landing – a jungle camp on the banks of the Burro Burro River where birds, forestry and dung beetles were surveyed. The final three days was spent carrying out a survey of aquatic fauna on the Burro Burro River, sleeping in primitive jungle camps.

Despite numerous hardships (which made the expedition all the more rewarding) highlights included experiencing a remote rainforest, seeing incredible wildlife including the iconic anaconda, caiman and giant otter, sleeping in hammocks, seeing deadly fer de lance snakes up close and eating beetle grubs and huge piranha. 

Working alongside some impressive young specialists in the fields of mammals, bats, herpetology, entomology, ornithology and forestry, as well as undergraduates, was also inspiring and fascinating. There can be no doubt that all the members of the team gained memories for life, insights into a little known country and a new appreciation of the world and their place in it.
RAJC

Dr Case has put together a stunning photobook of the expedition. To view it, please see: Biology Dept Guyana Expedition 2015 Photobook

To view a short film of the expedition made by Tom Edwards (SH UVI) and Joe Davies (M UVI), please click on the image below:

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