For the last three years I have been travelling and collaborating across Brazil to increase awareness of the role of invasive alien species. As my trip to the Pantanal comes to an end so too does this time working in Brazil. On the last morning with Projeto Tamanduá we wake early to capture a giant anteater. The samples we take from this animal will add to the repository of knowledge about their biology and ecology.
As the sun sets, I reflect on my time in Brazil. When I first arrived on Fernando de Noronha at the start of 2015 the status of knowledge of the terrestrial ecosystem was scattered. Over the past three years, myself, collaborators, and other research teams from around Brazil and the world, have added greatly to the knowledge of the terrestrial environment, from studies of the status of seabirds, to describing the rate of mutations in invasive toads. Today, I feel Fernando de Noronha is in an excellent position to move forward in conserving is endemic fauna.
Perhaps metaphorically, after the sun has set on my last night, a storm has blown in. Brazil is currently facing unprecedented challenges to its science system, which threaten to undermine all the progress they have made. However, I am empowered by reading Brazilian invasion biologists standing up for their work, and through meeting all the passionate workers on the ground, such as the young students of the Projeto Tamanduá course, and those developing important partnerships with international societies such as WWF and WCS.
But for now, até logo Brazil. With a new government in New Zealand there is more work to be done in my own backyard.