Friends of Galapagos New Zealand as a small organization, looked initially to the areas of Education and Volunteers for the focus of our efforts in order to have a significant effect. We then moved to assisting with projects including funding photography equipment for the Mockingbird project and followed in 2014 with an exciting project involving the White-vented Storm petrel Oceanites gracilis galapagoensis.
White-vented Storm Petrel Project
The Friends of Galapagos New Zealand entered into a partnership with the Galapagos National Park in 2014 with a project to track the White-vented Storm petrel Oceanites gracilis galapagoensis with the aim of identifying the bird’s breeding grounds and taxonomic classification. Up to this point it is not known where the birds breed which is critical information in establishing the status of the birds including whether or not they are endangered, and a distinct species as opposed to a sub-species.
FOGNZ was successful in gaining funding from the Mohamed bin Zayed Species Conservation Fund, the Auckland Zoo Conservation Fund and the International Galapagos Tour Operators Association to launch the project. Members of FOGNZ also donated to the project fund.
In mid 2014 Chris Gaskin lead a team with Karen Baird and other international volunteers working with staff from the Galapagos National Park and the Charles Darwin Foundation to find and track the White-vented Storm petrel. Local boats and crew were employed to transport the project team round Galapagos as they tracked the birds. The birds were caught so that transmitters and bands could be attached and their movements traced. Blood samples were taken from the some of the birds to clarify the taxonomic status of the White-vented Storm petrel.
The project ran for 3 months and much valuable information and data was gathered though the breeding sites were not located. However the information gathered has given us a far better understanding of the birds movements and range which will help in planning the next stage of the project; which is planned for 2016.
Here are some of great blogs that Karen & Chris put together as they worked on the project.
Key to the long term protection of the Galapagos Ecosystem is ensuring that the people of Galapagos and Ecuador are at the forefront of the conservation effort. Essential to this is ensuring that they have access to the best possible education in all its forms.
At the same time we need to educate the people of New Zealand, Australia and the World, about the wonders of Galapagos, and the dangers that threaten to damage the long term viability of the natural Galapagos ecosystem.We are therefore developing a program of student exchanges and scholarships to fulfill these two objectives.
We have identified the availability of a scholarships offered by NZ Aid for students from Galapagos and Ecuador, to come to New Zealand to study for a post-graduate qualification. We will be working with several organizations in Galapagos to identify individuals who may be able to take advantage of these scholarships which can in certain circumstances include studying for a PhD.
There have always been opportunities for volunteers in Galapagos, and a number of organizations there have volunteer programs. Volunteers from New Zealand and Australia have been involved in some of these programs.
FOGNZ is looking to facilitate volunteers wishing to work in Galapagos, to provide them with information in advance about the opportunities and requirements. We are also looking to recruit a coordinator in Galapagos who would act as a point of contact for organizations, volunteers and ourselves. The coordinator would look to develop a long term strategy to ensure that volunteers from around the world were able to have a significant input into the conservation of Galapagos. He or she would identify needs and publicize ‘vacancies’ and needs and ensure that volunteers are being used effectively and are appreciated.
For more information on Volunteers see our Volunteering page.