While some environmentalists claim that the annual winter hunting season leaves less than 150 wolves in Slovakia, official game statistics list more than 1,500: a huge difference! And it's a similar situation with lynx. Are predators being hunted towards extinction, as the environmentalists say, or becoming too numerous, as hunters claim? The dispute shows the clear need for reliable, objective methods to estimate numbers of predators.
The White Wilderness project brings together international volunteers and local people, nature conservationists, foresters, landowners and hunters. Under the close supervision of experienced project staff, volunteers track wolves and lynx and collect samples for DNA analysis, which will allow us to determine the minimum number of animals in the area as well as to detect changes which could require urgent intervention.
Lying between the Tatra National Park to the north and the Low Tatras National Park to the south, the spectacular region of Liptov is a real treat for lovers of nature and the outdoors. Around 50% is covered by forests, which reach up to 1500m (5000 feet) above sea level. Beyond that is a zone of dwarf pine and higher still are alpine meadows. In the winter, much of the wildlife, including carnivores and their prey, move to the foothills and valleys to avoid the deepest snow, and it is here that most of our fieldwork will be focussed.
In 2011, winter fieldwork will be done during a 3-week period. You can take part for 1 week, 2 weeks or all 3 weeks. Groups of up to 12 people plus one researcher and one leader.
Week 1: 22 January - 28 January (6 places left)
Week 2: 29 January - 04 February (7 places left)
Week 3: 05 February - 11 February (10 places left)