My name is Cat and I am the latest addition to the staff on Frontier’s Tanzania project, leading the terrestrial research on Mafia Island. I am in the habit of saying I am from the UK, but nowadays I seem to spend the majority of each year in the tropics conducting field research. I have been fortunate to work in the Panama, Cambodia, Uganda, Kenya and Tanzania in the past on both conservation and development projects and will now be working on Mafia Island.
In truth I hadn’t heard much about the island before I arrived, but for a small island the wildlife and ecosystems here are diverse. Within the first week we have explored mangroves, wetlands, grasslands, forest and anthropogenic habitats such as rice paddies and cattle pasture which also support a lot of wildlife.
Once more I am astounded by the bird diversity in the tropics. For instance, there is only one species of Kingfisher in the UK but I have already seen several species here including the Pied Kingfisher; a large, black and white bird I’ve seen hovering over the shoreline for its next meal then frequently dashing back to the mangroves. And his flashy cousin the Malachite Kingfisher, a very beautiful and vibrant bird. As in the UK, the true diversity of birds is not always apparent at first, but the patient and dedicated birder is richly rewarded.
Other focal species include Pteropus seychellensis comorensis, a large and vocal fruit bat which is seen roosting by day and flying in swathes towards the coast at dusk. There is much biodiversity on the island yet to be studied, and I am excited to be setting up terrestrial research projects in the coming months which can help inform the Marine Park’s management plan.
By Cat - Assistant Research Officer
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