VIDEO Camera trap project Meerdaalwoud (Belgium) 2014

The camera traps that were placed in Meerdaalwoud last spring (February-May 2014) shot quite some interesting images. A compilation of those images has been put together in this short video. English subtitles are available. A full report can be read here (Dutch only).

Jimma zone travel guide

Another Ethiopia-related project! We created a concise travel guide based on our personal experiences in the lesser-known and therefore less touristic south-west of Ethiopia. Are you planning on travelling through Ethiopia and you are interested in ecotourism? Then this short guide might give you some ideas on what to see and where to go. There's also a printer friendly version.

Update from Beleta-Gera – Ethiopia

The large mammal project is still up and running. The camera traps will soon be relocated a second time. During the first month, numerous mammals (and birds) have already been very photogenic, including these two magnificent creatures.

The shining guest ant – Third observation in Flanders

The shining guest ant (Formicoxenus nitidulus) is threatened with extinction according to the Flemish red list. Our observation of this species in Zoersel is the third in Flanders. These small ants (2-3 mm) are only found in and around nests of their hosts: red wood ants. Since red wood ants (of which 4 species occur in Belgium) are already relatively rare and protected, their guests suffer the same fate. The IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature) marks the shining guest ant as Vulnerable. A typical and easily recognisable trait (when using a microscope) is a small forward-pointing spine on the underside of the second node of the abdomen (post-petiole).

For the publication, cick here (English abstract only)

For more information about this species:

Update Expedition Beleta Gera – Ethiopia

The first month of our fieldwork in Ethiopia has passed. The amphibians are enjoying the rainy season and croak abundantly in both natural and not-so-natural habitats. Most reptiles hid themselves quite well for now, but we’ll find them eventually. Our first expedition to the Gera forest has ended and was fruitful to say the least. The camera traps are in place and the first results look promising! We’ll keep you updated.

New Pico Bonito expedition species

During this expedition (June 2013) through the, for now, intact rainforest of Pico Bonito, Honduras, several species were found new to science. For now, the scientific description of a new frog- and newt species are not yet published. However, a new species of damselfly, sampled during the same expedition is now described in the scientific journal Zookeys. The new species was called Amphipteryx jaroli, named after the famous scientist Jared Diamond. These and other discoveries were also published (in Dutch) in the “Standaard evening” of 3 june, 2014.

A print of the article in the “Standaard evening” can be found here (in Dutch).

A link to the scientific article in Zookeys can be read here.

A new expedition! Belete-Gera, Ethiopia

The Belete-Gera forest priority area in the southwestern highlands of Ethiopia is one of the last remaining natural forests in Ethiopia with a surface of almost 1000 km². It is an afrmontane rainforest, ranging between 1500 and 2600 meters above sea level, intersected by wild rivers with steep slopes. This area is known as the origin of the wild Arabica coffee. This area is under a considerably high threat due to population growth and rising demands for land, coffee and wood. Nonetheless, the forest is situated within the “UNESCO Eastern afromontane biodiversity hotspot” due to its rich fauna and flora with many endemic species. BINCO will go on an expedition at the end of 2014 to assess the diversity of mammals, reptiles and amphibians in this area.

The islands north of Papua New Guinea: in the footsteps of Benoit Mys

During the mid 1980’s a Belgian PhD student, Benoit Mys associated with the University of Antwerp, was completing a PhD on the zoogeography of reptiles, mostly scincid lizards from North Papua New Guinea. Benoit tragically died while in PNG before he could finish his PhD and the collections he assembled were deposited at the Royal Belgian Institute of Natural Sciences (RBINS) in Brussels, Belgium. We refer to this collection as the Benoit Mys collection in his honor. The collections remained stowed away in the Museum for 30 years, until the autumn of 2011. Jonathan Clegg, a master student of herpetology at the Vrije Universiteit Brussel (VUB) studied for the first time the more than 200 snakes in this collection.

The findings were exceptional, with 15 new island records and 2-3 undescribed snake species to science. A manuscript with first findings has been submitted. However to describe the new species in the collection, fresh material is required to compliment the morphological observations with molecular analyses. The snakes were preserved in formaldehyde and this prevents reliable molecular analyses and makes the colours fade. A small group of experienced herpetologists are mounting an expedition to visit the exact same localities as Benoit Mys, 30 years later. The main aim is to collect fresh material to document the in life colors of these animals and collect some samples for molecular analyses. This expedition is also a fantastic opportunity to document changes to the environment and evaluate how the herpetological fauna has changed over this period. An expedition like this is highly challenging, both in terms of logistics and funding and we appreciate any help that comes in our direction.