Our Forest Volunteers go the extra mile
Our Forest Conservation volunteers have always been passionate and eager to assist with our long-term monitoring projects. We encourage our volunteers to propose some of their own ideas. Many volunteers are already qualified scientists at home. They come to Nosy Komba with the aim to put their knowledge to good use.
Kay Royale introduces a butterfly investigation to the forest conservation program
One of our recent foresters, Kay Royale, is a wildlife photographer and biologist from Manchester. She took it upon herself to investigate the diversity of butterfly species here on Nosy Komba. Kay was interested to discover what species are present on the island. She also wanted to know whether different species existed within different habitat types. Kay’s fellow forest volunteers were very enthusiastic to help her. Together, they spent an afternoon creating butterfly traps out of mosquito nets, with banana purée as bait.
The following day, we positioned the traps in several locations. Down by the beach to higher up in the forest. We monitor the traps and check on them regularly. When we find butterflies in the traps we photograph them to enable us to identify them. Some adjustments to the butterfly traps were required. For example, the butterflies found the banana purée unappealing. We changed to a mixture of honey and sugar water which brought in better results.
In addition to the butterfly project, Kay wanted to investigate the difference in data accuracy between volunteers with no experience in species ID and data collection, and those with experience. To do this, naïve volunteers collected data, on bird surveys, alongside experienced volunteers and staff. The results were compared, to see how many surveys it took for naïve volunteers to match up with experienced surveyors. We hope that this data will enable the Forest Conservation staff to create improved training plans for the new volunteers, to enable volunteers to record data correctly and more efficiently.
Starting new projects always takes time and effort, as the experiments do not always go to plan. Kay is an incredibly passionate volunteer. She is determined to see her projects through, even after she has returned home. We have all learned a lot from her.