From a letter sent to the UKWCT:
We would like to express our gratitude and delight to the UKWCT, on the decision to support Gavin Bonsen’s PhD research in the International Wolf Project (IWP), Centre for Compassionate Conservation (CfCC), Australia, based at the Dead Sea and Arava Science Centre (DSASC), Israel. The funds will be used to purchase a research vehicle, which will fill a crucial gap for fieldwork in wolf research in Israel. The vehicle will remain an important tool for wolf research with our partners at the DSASC. We are thrilled to have the UKWCT involved in the IWP as important collaborators, and we are keen to continue sharing the developments of our research in this unique region.
The IWP in Israel is off to a great start with this wonderful news from the UKWCT, and following a successful workshop and regional conference in the Arava valley, in the south, and the Golan Heights, in the north. The Compassionate Conservation Middle East (CCME) conference in December 2016 brought together delegates from Israel, Palestine, and Jordan, to discuss new approaches to conservation in the region, with a special focus on wolves – a species currently granted little protection. As part of the conference, we conducted focused discussions on the IWP, and a fieldtrip to a beautiful desert spring, which is important to the local wolves for water and prey.
Following the conference, we conducted a workshop and fieldtrip in the Golan (IWP study sites in northern Israel), and we were fortunate to spend time watching two beautiful wolves resting on a hill near the Syrian border. It was both a wonderful and troubling experience, because while we were watching the wolves, we could also hear the sounds of the Syrian civil war waging just on the other side of the fence. Being so close to the border, one of the wolves sat up to listen to the sounds of conflict from Syria.
Since then, Gavin has begun laying out the foundations of the project, collaborating with GIS experts at the Technion Institute to map the areas where wolves are safe or vulnerable to humans. The next stage will be to begin setting up grids of camera traps to survey the activity of wolves in the Arava valley, and to discover how other species in this unique ecosystem respond to the presence of this apex predator. The funds donated by the UKWCT will enable Gavin to begin his fieldwork in the Arava, and we look forward to sharing the results as they start coming in.
Project managed by: Gavin Bonsen, UTS: CfCC
UKWCT donations: £5,000 since 2017
The UKWCT's funding will be used to help purchase a vehicle for wolf research fieldwork in Israel.