Wilderness & Wildlife Research

The flora is the foundation of each ecosystem. While the animals of Wilderness areas often get more attention, it is the plants that do the heavy lifting. In combination with healthy soil, they provide ecosystem services like oxygen production, carbon sequestration, air filtering and water retention. Plants come in all shapes and sizes from tiny algae to giant trees. If we include microbes and fungi, we go from microscopically small to several kilometers large. The flora defines the structure, look and biodiversity of an area. But that also means that they cannot escape from human activity, so large Wilderness areas are especially important for them. For many however, wildlife is the most important aspect of Wilderness. Prominent species like the panda, tiger, wolf, bear or the large herds of herbivores in the savanna played an important role in creating the Wilderness movement. But overlooked animals like insects and amphibians can be just as fascinating and their role for a healthy environment cannot be underestimated. Many animal species rely on undisturbed areas for their survival. Hence, Wilderness areas act as refuges, breeding grounds and hotspots of diversity. The interest in wildlife is ever increasing with tourists travelling around the globe to see the unique wildlife biodiversity of wild places. On the other hand, human-wildlife conflicts with local communities close to Wilderness areas are common. And in many parts of the world animals are threatened by poachers even in Wilderness.

The presentations below showcase research on local flora, how flora in Wilderness is different and what functions wild flora has in our global system. They also explore the diverse fauna of Wilderness and the importance of Wilderness as a wildlife refuge.

Clouded Leopard in Nepal – Research & Conservation – Yadav Ghimirey

European Wilderness and REWILD Institute present the Clouded Leopard in Nepal. The clouded leopard is smaller than the normal leopard. This only adds to the challenges of protecting this endangered fantastic species. Clouded leopard are threatened by increasing fragmented forest habitats and to increase in illegal and legal logging.

Factors influencing the habitat use of owls in a mosaic landscape in Garo Hills, North-eastern India – Sangeeth Sailas

S. Sangeeth Sailas is a master’s student of Ornithology and Conservation Biology at the Salim Ali Centre for Ornithology and Natural History (SACON), India. He is interested in habitat ecology, landscape ecology and bioacoustics and worked on “Factors influencing the habitat use of owls in a mosaic landscape in Garo Hills, Meghalaya” for his master’s dissertation from January to August 2020. Habitat use of owls is under-studied in the tropics, and more so in North-eastern India, a part of the Indo-Burma region, one of the biodiversity hotspots of the world. Hence, a study on the habitat use of owls was conceived, selecting the Garo Hills in Meghalaya as the study site, a landscape mosaic made up of plantations, agricultural fields, settlements, disturbed and undisturbed forests. The presence of Community Reserves, a type of Community Conserved Area, adds to the heterogeneity in the landscape.

Nesting Behaviour of the Coppersmith Barbet – Swanand Oak

Swanand Oak is a freelancer working in the Wine industry. He is a self-taught Wildlife Photographer and birder residing in the city of Pune. Keen to learn and improve his knowledge, Swanand attends various workshops and wildlife seminars throughout the year. He is currently working for the conservation of wildlife and habitat in his city along with his team involving many enthusiastic people. He is currently working on a small project focusing conservation of raptors in and around Pune city and its geographical terrain. Despite the Covid-19 lockdown, he successfully managed to record a project on the Coppersmith Barbet which is going to be presented today by him. Coppersmith Barbets are commonly found in the Indian sub-continent and have soundly adapted to urban areas and human population. However, their nesting can be difficult to record as its hard to find on trees at such a great height. The project highlights the nesting behaviour shown by the parent barbets in raising their young. Feeding routine, plumage development of the chick and other behavioural patterns were recorded for six weeks. Sexual dimorphism in Barbets come to light through this project.

Dragonfly Diversity Informatics – Pankaj Koparde

Dragonfly Diversity Informatics – Pankaj Koparde, Assistant Professor at MIT World Peace University, India.

White-Tailed Eagle conservation in Austria – Christian Pichler

Christian Pichler has been working for WWF Austria for 15 years now and is mainly responsible for species conservation projects. After studying biology in Vienna, with a focus on ecology he started at WWF in 2006. He has been responsible for various topics. His main tasks have been on the implementation of conservation projects on the lynx, wolf, white-tailed eagle, bear, otter and beaver. Twenty years ago the White-tailed Eagle returned to Austria as a breeding species. The White-tailed eagle is an impressive bird of prey and the fact that it can once again be observed in Austria after 50 years of absence is a result of the dedicated hard work of many individuals. Especially for conservationists it is a remarkable success story of which we are very proud. Currently Austria´s heraldic bird inhabits parts of the eastern, non-alpine lowlands, particularly the Danube-Morava floodplains and the pond landscape of the Waldviertel.

Effect of change of Climate & Habitat on Owls of Mumbai – Dr. Mahesh N. Sanzgiri

Professionally I am Consultant in the field of ISO,Pharma formalities such as cGMP, WHO, USFDA, European Standards etc.,Management especilly in Brand Positioning,Market Survey and Market Research,Materials and Warehouse Management and HRD. I am Scientist in the field of Chemistry and Wildlife. I am M.Sc.,P.hD in Organic Chemistry with post graduation in Marketing and Systems Management . I have business in consultancy of my own firm called “DYNAMIC MANAGMENT SERVICES” and due to love for nature and wildlife, I am also having a business in ” Wildlife Tourism” called “Nilkanth Wildlife Safaris.”

Nepalese Endemic Bat – Research aspects and conservation need – Sanjeev Baniya

“Nepalese Endemic Bat – Research aspects and conservation need” – Sanjeev Baniya, REWILD Institute Nepal. Myotis csorbai is the endemic bat of Nepal and has been listed as ‘Data Deficient’ in the IUCN red list. The species is known from only two locations in Nepal, and therefore requires intensive research and efficient conservation. This current project aims to study the foraging habitat and roosting patterns of this species through passive and active acoustic monitoring, roost surveys and capture methods.

Critically Endangered Vultures in Nepal – population status, nesting behaviour and conservation perception – Bikash Ghimire

Critically Endangered Vultures in Nepal – population status, nesting behaviour and conservation perception – Bikash Ghimire, Conservation Officer at Friends of Nature.

Anurans in Nepal – dietary assessment & niche overlap – Suman Sapkota

Anurans in Nepal – dietary assessment & niche overlap – Suman Sapkota, Wildlife Biologist in Nepal. This is a presentation about frogs and toads in Nepal.

Inside the Pit – How soil texture affects antlion pit dimensions – Arjit Jere

Arjit Jere is currently a Junior Research Fellow in Azim Premji University, Bangalore, India. I am a budding animal ecologist with a passion for nature and field based observational studies of animals in the wild. Along with research, I also want to communicate environmental knowledge to the layman. I strive to do so using popular science , harnessing writing and talks as a tool. My short term aim is to start doing a PhD in animal behavior, preferably abroad-species no bar, as long as its field based! Antlions (Class: Insecta, Order: Neuroptera) are net-winged insects represented by Family Myrmeleontidae. They are cosmopolitan in distribution and found in warm areas of Asia, Africa and Americas. Adult forms are poor fliers while larval forms are sit and wait predators. Few genera of Myrmeleontidae larvae dig pits to catch small arthropods like ants, spiders. The effect of various environmental factors like humidity, soil texture, soil depth etc. on pit dimensions has been studied extensively in Europe and Americas. However, such Antlion ecology research is lacking in India. Antlion pit dimensions influence Antlion feeding success, protection and thus survival. So, understanding these factors is crucial.

Return of the Mura dragon – Polona Pengal

Polona Pengal is now the scientific director of the Revivo institute, where she works with 3 colleagues and a number of volunteers and students, together learning the latest advances on the applied aquatic research and driving the change in water management in Slovenia. Although historically regulated, the Mura remains Slovenia`s last major free flowing river, and a diverse wetland habitat with a few remaining oxbows and floodplain forests, that are truly wild. This was also recognised by UNESCO with the establishment of the Amazon of Europe Transboundary Biosphere reserve »Mura – Drava – Danube«. Following the successful river restoration on the Austrian side, in 2020 the Institute of the Republic of Slovenia for Nature Conservation has just initiated a project to restore habitats around the Mura river. In addition, plans are being developed for ex situ conservation measures on the Mura river in Slovenia to support the recovery of the resident sterlet population.

Bat fauna in sacral architecture in the Transcarpathian region (Ukraine) in the breeding period – Andriy-Taras Bashta

Andriy-Taras Bashta is currently a senior research scientist at the Institute of Ecology of the Carpathians NASU. He is a member of the REWILD Institute; president of the Animals Research and Protection Association “Fauna”; expert of IUCN, Member of Chiroptera Specialist Group; Member of Council of the West-Ukrainian Ornithological Society. In the breeding season of 2020 (June-July), studies of bats were conducted in the Transcarpathian region (Western Ukraine), which is adjacent to the border with Poland, Slovakia, Hungary and Romania. Totally, 104 sacral buildings were inspected. Bats were found in 34 temples (32.7%). Eight bat species were identified there.

Conservation of Europe’s rarest songbird – Aquatic warbler – Gintaras Riauba

Gintaras Riauba joined the Baltic Environmental Forum (BEF LT) in 2017. Since 2012 he has been coordinating habitat restoration and environmental monitoring activities in the project, which aimed at the renaturalization of the largest abandoned peatland in Lithuania – Tyruliai wetland. Since 2017 Gintaras is a team member of the Aquatic Warbler (Acrocephalus paludicola) conservation project (LIFE MagniDucatusAcrola), mainly involved in habitat restoration, Aquatic Warbler translocation and environmental monitoring activities. Baltic Environmental Forum Lithuania is an environmental NGO that believes that nature should be protected not from people, but together with them. The organization works in fields of biodiversity conservation, agri-environment, rural development, nature tourism, sustainable development, management of hazardous chemicals, and corporate social responsibility.  We believe that our last wilderness areas should be protected, and in most cases nowadays it means protecting wilderness by involving people into conservation.

Durankulak Bird Ringing Camp on the Black Sea Coast, Bulgaria – Andrey Ralev

Andrey Ralev currently works at REWILD Institute Bulgaria. He streams live from Durankulak Bird Ringing Camp to answer questions that people might have regarding his presentation about it.

Owl Conservation in Southern Africa – Jonathan Haw

Jonathan Haw is a director at EcoSolutions, South Africa. In his talk, he explains what threats owls experience in Southern Africa and how his efforts in education changes people’s perspectives towards owl conservation.

Past, current and future research at Aldo Leopold Wilderness Research Institute – ALWRI scientists

For over sixty years, the Aldo Leopold Wilderness Research Institute (ALWRI), and the scientists constituting it, have pioneered research focused on designated Wilderness in the United States and related wildlands globally. This proposed 60-minute presentation session will introduce the international wilderness audience to the ALWRI with an overview of past, current, and potential future research. The presentation will open with an introduction from the new director, which provides a broad overview of the ALWRI. Following the introduction, each team member will discuss their respective research interests, potentially including previously completed work and future directions as it relates to Wilderness science. The areas of expertise of ALWRI’s current scientists include fire and landscape ecology, climate change ecological and social science, wildlife biology, and ecosystem services and human-nature relationships. The audience can expect to gain an understanding of the ALWRI, including a general history, details of specific research projects, broad topics investigated, and available resources (e.g., raw data, academic publications, practitioner-specific technical reports) – all of which are underpinned by a desire to see rigorous science support the stewardship of designated Wilderness and related wildlands. Speakers: Jason Taylor – Director; Carol Miller – Research Ecologist; Sean Parks – Research Ecologist; Lisa Holsinger – Ecologist; Kathy Zeller – Research Biologist; Chris Armatas – Research Social Scientist

Hunting and trade of owls in Nepal – Raju Acharya

Raju Acharya is currently working in Friends of Nature Nepal & REWILD Institute Nepal. In his talk he explains hunting and trade of owls in Nepal.

Wolf Conservation and Eco-Health Management in Majella National Park, Italy – Simone Angelucci

I am Simone Angelucci, DVM and Head of Veterinary Office in Majella National Park (MNP). The MNP is a protected area, located in South-Central Italy, in the Abruzzo region, along the Apennines Chain, of high ecological and conservation value for the safeguard of the Apennine wolf (Canis lupus italicus), Marsicano Brown Bear (Ursus arctos marsicanus), Apennine Chamois (Rupicapra pyrenaica ornata) and other wild mammals. Our Wildlife Research Center, with biologists and vets, has for several years undertaken activities of wildlife conservation and management, wildlife/livestock interface analysis, eco-epidemiological surveillance, and has also developed some collaboration activities with international researchers, institutional representatives and stakeholders, for exchanging good practices, scientific updates, or intensive training or educational paths.