Support Operation Wallacea Maya 2015 - Ioan Smart

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Support Operation Wallacea Maya 2015 - Ioan Smart


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At the end of June I will be embarking on an expedition with the organisation Operation Wallacea to Mexico for 6 weeks. Upon this expedition I will be aiding in data collection to reduce the effects of several issues, here are the main ones: A main source of income in the surrounding areas of the Calakmul Biosphere reserve is farming. This is affecting the wildlife corridors that connect Calakmul to other protected areas of the Selva Maya (Mayan jungle). With climate pressures causing more farmers to switch to cattle farming, and an ever-increasing human population, more farmland is required and this is causing the wildlife corridors to disappear at an alarming rate. The loss of wildlife corridors combined with the unpredictable climate of Mexico makes the likelihood of species loss far greater and the prospect increasingly inevitable. A similar thing is occurring off the coast of Akumal, which literally means “home of the turtles” in Mayan. Locals are optimising the abundance of turtles and are using tourism to generate income. However, the extent of tourism is continuing to rise which is putting stress on the marine environment, especially the turtles. Tourism could even lead to an increase in building structures to accommodate the larger number of tourist, which, in turn may cause damage to the nesting sites of turtles and cause the turtles to simply leave. This is ecologically disadvantageous as the turtles are important in the food web, carefully balancing the abundance of organisms and the biodiversity of the ecosystem. The solution to this decrease in biodiversity in Mexico is to collect data to inform, develop and deliver an integral structure for sustainable alternatives and the efficacy of these strategies to be monitored; you can help provide the means to fulfil this resolution. Operation Wallacea are involved in a variety of studies and monitoring programmes in several countries across the world to implement effective regimes to prevent species loss and habitat destruction. You can read more about their work at Operation Wallacea are an organisation that is capable of collecting large temporal and spatial datasets through the aid of research assistants – this summer I will be one of these assistants. I will be getting involved in tourist surveys; lionfish capture and dissection; bat surveying; primate behavioural studies; turtle behaviour analyses and nest site monitoring; Jaguar surveys and habitat data collection. These data will help reduce both marine and terrestrial habitat loss ensuring the survival of important wildlife corridors and the preservation of human treasures such as the Mayan ruins. This opportunity is extremely important to me as it will be an edifying experience and will shape my knowledge on current global issues facing our planet. It will also allow me to obtain practical experience whilst immersing myself in one of the true lasting remnants of our natural world. In order to embark on this experience I must raise £4500 to cover various aspects of the expedition: flights and travel, expedition kit, insurance and vaccinations. I have already made a personal commitment through funds earned through a part-time job, and I have several fundraising events planned including endurance events such as a skydive and a 1000 mile cycle. If you could support me and the Operation Wallacea team in any way you can, whether through simply spreading the word or making a donation it will be greatly appreciated to find out more information follow this link (

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