Some light-bulb moments in TBA Field Courses: Training Conservation Leaders

Light-bulb moments in TBA Field Courses
Some light-bulb moments in TBA Field Courses: Training Conservation Leaders
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Some of the light-bulb moments that I experienced during the TBA field course in Uganda last August. It was a wonderful opportunity to learn about tropical forest ecology and conservation, and to conduct my own research project in the Kibale Forest National Park.

One of the light-bulb moments was when I realized the importance of camera traps as a tool for wildlife monitoring and research. Camera traps are devices that automatically take photos or videos of animals that pass by, using motion sensors or infrared triggers. They can provide valuable information on the abundance, distribution, behavior, and diversity of wildlife, especially those that are elusive, nocturnal, or endangered. During the course, I learned how to set up, maintain, and retrieve camera traps, and how to use software like Wildlife Insights to identify, analyze, and share the camera trap data. I was amazed by the variety and richness of wildlife that we captured on camera, such as elephants, chimpanzees, duikers and so on. I also learned how to use occupancy and capture-recapture models to estimate the population parameters of the wildlife species, and how to interpret and present the results.

Another light-bulb moment was when I discovered the fascinating interactions and relationships between plants and animals in the tropical forest. I learned that plants and animals depend on each other for various functions, such as pollination, seed dispersal, herbivory, and predation, and that these interactions shape the structure and dynamics of the forest ecosystem. For example, I learned that some plants have evolved specialized adaptations, such as nectar, fruits, or spines, to attract or deter certain animals, and that some animals have developed specialized behaviors, such as foraging, caching, or hoarding, to exploit or avoid certain plants. I also learned how to design and conduct experiments to test hypotheses about plant-animal interactions, such as the effects of seed size, color, or shape on seed predation or dispersal by birds. Using Passive Acoustic Monitoring (PAM) to survey birds’ diversity was another incredible moment for me.  

The TBA field course was a memorable and rewarding experience for me, as it not only enhanced my knowledge and skills in tropical forest ecology and conservation, but also inspired me to pursue my passion and career in this field. I am grateful to the TBA staff, tutors, and fellow participants for their support, guidance, and friendship during the course. I hope to apply what I learned to my current and future research projects, and to contribute to the conservation of wildlife and their habitats in Cameroon and in Africa in general.

Romaric

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Go to the profile of Chrissy
3 months ago

Thank you for sharing Romaric! What is TBA? This field course seems very worth while and packed with practical knowledge that can be used to help make a difference. I started analyzing the camera trap data in my area last year and there is truly much to explore. Cheers!

Go to the profile of Romaric Tegang
3 months ago

Hi Chrissy, TBA stands for Tropical Biology Association (https://tropical-biology.org/field-courses/), a world renowned UK-based organization working in tropical biology and conservation across the world. They usually run a competitive entrance call for application each year for very limited numbers of students and conservation scientists coming from all over the world to spend one month-long in the field of tropical conservation where you are able to learn from experts and fellows and gain practical knowledge and experience from the field. You can have a look at their website through the link provided above. 

Very good to learn than you’re analyzing your camera traps data. Did you try Wildlife Insights or Traptagger to proceed them?

Best

Go to the profile of Chrissy
3 months ago

What an amazing program to be a part of! I will check out the link - thank you. We used Wildlife Insights to track big cats in the Bay Area of California. Although, the areas are used by us for recreation, A.I. did a decent job at detecting wildlife. 

Go to the profile of Romaric Tegang
3 months ago

Lovely,

that’s great, which big cats do you have over California (please, if you could provide me with common and species names)? 

Go to the profile of Chrissy
3 months ago

Mostly Mountain Lions sometimes called Cougars (Puma Concolor) and Bobcats (Lynx Rufus). Any particular species you look forward to specializing in?

Go to the profile of Romaric Tegang
3 months ago

Great, Just curious to learn what you have in terms of big cats, because I currently working with African lion (Panthera leo), leopard (Panthera pardus), Spotted hyena (Crocuta crocuta) and African golden cat (Caracal aurata). All of them are found in Cameroon.

Go to the profile of Chrissy
3 months ago

Love that, Africa is one of the best places for wildlife diversity. We currently have some jaguars (Panthera onca) and ocelots (Leopardus pardalis) slowly coming back up from the South Americas and its really exciting. 

Go to the profile of Thirza Loffeld
3 months ago

Thanks for sharing your light-bulb moments with us Romaric! I'm curious to know: what were your findings based on your own research project in the Kibale Forest National Park? Also, is there anything you wish you would have known before doing this TBA Field course?

Go to the profile of Romaric Tegang
3 months ago

I particularly worked with moths for my field project, setting up lamp traps with different colors of sheets and observing with colors are more attractive by moths. The conclusion was that, in the presence of lamp, moths prefer to land on blue sheets than others colors that was there as well, for instance white and red colors. It was a very lovely experimental design and study.

Before the TBA field courses, I wanted to get the hands on experience of real world wildlife conservation and other courses and practices related to wildlife conservation and management.