Irina Muschik is a wildlife biologist from Germany who has been travelling East through Russia interviewing wildlife researchers for her project, Greentrousers. She has been collecting data for several ASC projects including Pika Monitoring andRoadkill Observations. Irina is on her way to Mongolia, but wrote this interesting tale of the medicinal uses of pika.
While travelling throughCentral Asia ASC connected me topika researcher, Andrew Smith, who commissioned me with a very mysterious task. He told me about a traditional medicine, called mumeo, thatÂ´s solely used in Central Asia and contains pika feces! My initial thought was: "What the heck?!", but at the same time I was hooked. I wanted to know everything about it and would ask any Central Asian I encountered about this mysterious stuff. Andrew wanted to know if mumeo is still in use and if you can buy it on the markets. The second demand he gave me wasnÂ´t as funny unfortunately: pikas in Asia are threatened by poisoning and I should ask around if this is still happening. I spent two month in Kazakhstan, travelling the vast country from west to east and south to north. Plenty of different pika species are inhabiting the steppes and the lesser known mountainous parts of this beautiful part of the world.
Grant Mooney Searches for Wildlife on Mt. Kilimanjaro
ASC adventurer, Grant Mooney, recently summited Mount Kilimanjaro, Africa’s highest mountain, and collected animal observations for UMass Amherst Senior Research Fellow, Doug Hardy. Dr. Hardy, a specialist in climate and glaciers, is looking for evidence of mammals and birds at high elevations (above 13,000 ft) of Kilimanjaro. He plans to use radiocarbon dating on frozen remains of animals in order to more accurately estimate the age of Kilimanjaro’s ice.
As Mooney ascended the 19,341-foot Tanzanian mountain, he used his GPS to mark the altitude and coordinates of the animals he spotted. He observed 15 to 20 birds and small rodents at high altitudes, including a mouse at the 17,000-foot mark. Most of the animals Mooney saw were scavengers, such as white napped ravens, which he assumed traveled to high elevations to feed on the scraps left behind by climbers.
A Riparian Oasis in the Sonoran Desert? John Davis Visits a Rancher with a Unique Outlook on Repairing Over-grazed Lands
A Case for Good Dams
ASC is proud to be involved with John Davis, TrekWest, and the Wildlands Network to bring awareness to the importance of protecting wildlife corridors. John will travel 5,000 miles from Mexico to Canada on foot, bike, horse, and many other forms of transportation to inspire others to protect these important wildlife thoroughfares. Along John's journey he will be collecting data for several ASC projects including Roadkill Observations, Wildlife Observations, observing ptarmigan, and the Pika Project. This post was retrieved from http://trekwest.org/blog/blog-11-a-case-for-good-dams/ on March 14th, 2013.
Rancho San Bernadino, Sonora, Mexico, along US border
Eventually, these check dams will disappear beneath the soil and plant communities, as all good dams should…”
Until recently, I thought only beavers could build beneficial dams. Valer Austin convinced me, as well as Oprah, otherwise. On many formerly eroded and degraded hillsides on Cuenca Los Ojos lands, Valer and Josiah Austin and their restoration teams have built gabions, small check dams,to slow water run-off and allow soil to rebuild. At their showpiece restoration site, San Bernadino Ranch, on the south side of the Arizona/Sonora border, they have also built larger earthen dams, to accrete soil and vegetation layers back up to near their original levels.
The biggest dam is more than a hundred yards wide and, including the spillway, more than 20 feet high – to match the arroyo down-cutting resulting from decades of heavy grazing by cows. The dams are not pretty, being essentially caged rocks, but they do their jobs well. Layers of sediment accumulate behind the check dams, more caged rocks are piled atop, and gradually the ground returns to its natural levels. Eventually, these check dams will disappear beneath the soil and plant communities, as all good dams should.
Dave and Amy Freeman of the Wilderness Classroom Explain the Importance of Mangroves as They Record Signs of Wildlife
Dave and Amy Freeman have been travelling the country for the past three years by kayak, canoe and dog sled with The Wilderness Classroom, an educational organization that seeks to instill a lifelong appreciation of the natural world while improving basic skills like reading, critical thinking, and communication by highlighting the joy of discovery. Along they way they have participated in several ASC projects including Gull Monitoring and most recently Wildlife Observations. Keep up with their adventures, lesson plans for classrooms, and blogs at www.wildernessclassroom.com
We experienced an abrupt change this week when we left the Suwannee River and paddled out into the Gulf of Mexico. When we saw a dolphin I said,”wow, we have not seen a dolphin in a long time.” Then I remembered that the reason we had not seen dolphins - we had been traveling on rivers for the past few weeks. Now we see dolphins every day. Plus, we are seeing lots of other plants and animals like stingrays, sea turtles, ospreys and pelicans, which are all common along the Gulf Coast. We have also entered a new habitat, the mangrove swamp.
Mangrove swamps are coastal wetlands found in tropical and subtropical regions. Mangrove swamps are made of halophytic (salt loving) trees, shrubs and other plants growing in shallow brackish and salt waters. Mangroves are often found in estuaries, where fresh water meets salt water and are infamous for their impenetrable maze of woody vegetation. We camped in a mangrove swamp a few nights ago and it was really hard to climb through the tangle of roots and limbs in search of a flat, dry place set up our tent.
ASC Adventurers Karen and Markus Discover a Bit of Luck and the Kindness of Strangers
Karen and Markus are world travellers and avid adventurers. They are backpacking through Argentina and Chile for the next few months and recording observations for the Wildlands South America Biodiversity Inventory. They recently hiked through Isla Navarino and recorded observations there. For more on their trip, visit their website
The past few weeks have been full of great hiking as we have made our way north through Patagonia. We hiked north from El Chalten with ever changing views of Monte Fitz Roy and across the remote border to a tiny, isolated corner of Chile. We spent a few days, and many hours hanging out by the fire with new friends, in our campsite in Cerro Castillo reserve while we waited out strong winds and sleet on the traverse route. We walked (and stumbled) along muddy horse trails through lush rainforest and cliffy valleys, stopping to chat with families whose farm fields and livestock we trekked past, as we hiked from Cochamo, Chile to El Bolson, Argentina. But equally memorable are the hours and days we spent in vehicles just to get from one place to another across a vast and remote region of bumpy gravel roads with light traffic and infrequent public buses that always seem to be full...
The Kindness of Strangers
Hitch hiking has been an important mode of transport for us. It is common here and really practical. A majority of people want to stop and they smile and gesture apologetically when there is no space in the car (which is often). So far we have had nothing but positive experiences and hitching has introduced us to some great people too. A few memories:
Citizen Science in South America
I just got back late last night from Cerro Plomo. Given our team's changing schedules and the Ruta Patrimonial de Río Olivares park and roads closure for our "Plan A Expedition" to Nevado del Plomo (6,070 meters) in the neighboring valley, I started out solo on Sunday, February 24, for a two-day attempt at Cerro Plomo (5,430 meters). On the approach to El Plomo, I met several climbers returning home, most only having ascended to Refugio Angostini at 4,600 meters due to dangerously high winds. As they descended and I ascended, I kept thinking of the mountain forecast that predicted light winds on what would be my summit day with hopes that the forecast would hold fast.
Once I got to base camp, I pitched my tent, took a long drink of glacier melt water, and collected my first glacier melt samples at 4,200 meters for researchers at theByrd Polar Research Center. I was pondering the following day's solo summit bid, when two French climbers appeared over the scree hill that marks the western edge of base camp. We ended up talking with the last of a group of Chilean climbers that were headed down. It seems Chilean couple were the only ones to have gutted through the wind and summited against odds that day.
Read the Landmark Notes blog: