Conservation students earn their stripes

Assoc Prof Jean-Marc Hero, Conservation students and Dreamworld Tiger Handler with tigersheading to Nepal
Assoc Professor Jean-Marc Hero, Conservation in Practice students Nathan McIntyre and Trudy Davidson with Dreamworld Tiger Island Manager, Patrick Martin-Vegue and Bengal Tiger Cubs, Ravi and Baru.

It will be the ultimate field trip for 21 Conservation in Practice students as they head to Nepal.

The third year students from Griffith’s School of Environment will spend four weeks in some of the world’s most beautiful and challenging environments.

Course convenor, Associate Professor Jean-Marc Hero said the intensive summer course provides students with the opportunity to integrate real-world conservation issues with field research, and truly take part in “conservation in practice”.

“Two weeks of the trip is spent undertaking long-term ecological research including vegetation and fauna surveys which will involve measuring and marking trees,” Associate Professor Hero said.

Students will then hike through some of the highest mountains in the world, subtropical forests, visit Gharial and elephant breeding centres and experience local teahouses along the way.

“They will also be surveying rhino’s while riding on the back of elephants, trapping and examining small mammals, and looking for evidence of tigers.”

Bengal tigers are primarily found in India but there are smaller populations in surrounding countries including Nepal. And it is the lure of these big cats which has brought the Manager of Dreamworld’s Tiger Island Manager, Patrick Martin-Vegue along for the journey.

“I am very excited to have been invited by Associate Professor, Jean-Marc Hero from Griffith University to join this trip,” Mr Martin-Vegue said.

“I have worked with Bengal tigers for more than 35 years and am looking forward to the opportunity to observe them in their natural habitat, and see first-hand the problems faced by the estimated 1200 Bengal tigers left in wild.”

Dreamworld and Griffith University have a long research history together and the Dreamworld Wildlife Foundation has recently donated $10000 to study koalas in captivity, and a further $5,000 to study the Greater Bilby in the wild.

The research training trip to Nepal leaves on 29 November with participants returning on 24 December 2012.

“Not only will the field trip provide these students with invaluable experience as future conservation practitioners, it will also be a life experience they will never forget,” Associate Professor Hero said.