Well the last three months have been an absolute blur, and with all this cold weather, it feels like we’re still in February. The reality of it is that we’ll be leaving for Koh Rong Samloem in four months time, exciting! Here’s what we’ve been up to since Christmas.
The team and I have been working tirelessly, it’s a wonder that we’ve been able to keep up with our degrees at times, but I guess that’s credit to how well the group has gelled. Most of our time has been taken up by writing grants, working on logistics, budgets, risk assessments and so on. It’s a real “ironing out the creases” process which, while it is very time consuming, brings a lot of rewards.
At the start of the year, I was lucky enough to be away in Kenya with my masters course
, practicing some of the ecological census techniques that we will be employing on the island (although the flora and fauna will certainly be a little different!). It was an incredible trip, building on the previous experience I’ve gained with the university in locations such as South Africa
. This is one of the many reasons I chose to stay on at Exeter, as the field work is second to none, setting myself and the other team members up perfectly for the expedition.
Anyway, I have gone off the point slightly, after completing the trip, I was faced with the rather daunting task of 2-3 deadlines per week, for 6 weeks. It certainly kept me busy and limited the input I could have on the expedition. Fortunately, the rest of the team picked up the slack and have kept our plans well on course.
After an insightful and not-as-terrifying-as-you-might-think interview, the Royal Geographical Society awarded us our first grant, swiftly followed by the Linnean Society (A big thank you to both societies!). These of course bought a great deal of happiness to us all as it is nice to see the rewards of the hard work starting to pay off. It was also particularly appropriate for us to receive our first grant from the RGS as so many of us were inspired by the Explore
event that we have attended for the past few years. Maybe we’ll get to speak there this year, who knows?!
In addition to all our efforts, we’ve had a lot of help from our UK team. The UK team is largely comprised of students at the universities of Exeter and Falmouth, while they are not coming to Cambodia, they have been kind enough to offer us their skills in order to both help us, and demonstrate their skills (always good for the CV). The UK team have helped in a variety of ways, from translating various emails, to visiting our partners, but that’s a whole different blog.
What’s coming up?
Having completed the taught half of my masters, I have begun conducting the research months, half of which are spent completing a census project at the nearby College Reservoir. Along with two other students, I am currently surveying amphibians, reptiles, birds, mammals, plants and more. Rather conveniently, the methods we are using include all those that the team and I shall be utilizing on Koh Rong Samloem. Over the next few weeks, the rest of the team will be joining me in order to practice these skills so that we are all ready to go as soon as we arrive on the island.
In addition, in early June we shall be heading up to Scotland for a week in order to practice in a more remote island location, test out our kit and see how good our camp-constructing skills are. More on this in a later blog!
Fundraising and PR
Obviously we will be making a big fundraising push now, we will soon have a Kickstarter page up and running (so that we can give something back to those who sponsor us).In addition, we will have regular blogs and videos (or vlogs, if you’re into all that jargon).Keep a look out for some slightly outrageous fundraisers and you might see us in a newspaper here and there (fingers crossed!).