Thanks to James Borrell for his organisation; to Jessica Plumb for her interview; & most importantly to Ashish for his first-class fieldwork and all of those folk who have helped him along the way.
Ashish Thomas describes perfectly what fieldwork is often really like; many of us would completely agree with his experiences. There are also many connections between Ashish’s study and the ideas behind The Biodiversity Alliance. That traditional knowledge is often vitally important, and do not discount any piece of information ~ as we never know what might prove to be the key to some mystery.
Studying endangered or enigmatic species is hard, and you may have to wait years to gain some valuable information (one such study concerned Monachus monachus (Mediterranean Monk Seal) ~ in 8 years one researcher never saw a single seal, but the gobal population at that time was only about 400 individuals).
Look at the Purple Frog: only ‘discovered’ in 2003 and already endangered. Look at its time-frame spent in the upper world … a couple of weeks ~ then imagine having to predict the monsoon season in a changing world. What if the frog has a life-cycle that shifts slightly over several years?
Consider too dealing with bureaucracy, getting permits to enter a particular area, and conducting scientific activities. Most revealing is how you have to engage with Tribal peoples in a way that is culturally acceptable to them: gain their trust and you have friends for life; cross them and you’ll find it hard to work there again.
Lastly, I was pleased to see that http://www.rufford.org funded some of Ashish’s fieldwork. I have a great deal of respect for The Rufford Trust in London and they do very good work indeed. Rufford actually funded my first study of biodiversity at Tongareva in 2013. Thank you 🙂