Keep up to date with all of our latest news by checking out the articles below. Learn about new trips and programme developments, findings from our university research and our conservation projects. Don't forget to follow us on Facebook and Instagram to see even more of what we are getting up to here at Ecofieldtrips!
NEWS ARCHIVE: INSTAGRAM
By Kat Machin Published - October 2016
The beginning of October brought exciting new adventures for us here at EFT. We were delighted to be joined by the German European School of Singapore (GESS) for four fun-filled days of art, culture, camping and kayaking as part of our new CAS programme.
From the get-go students were completely immersed into island life, exploring the reef and coming face to face with some of Tioman’s wilder inhabitants. With ocean pollution and sustainability as the major themes of the trip, students were keen to incorporate the trash they collected during beach clean-ups into an art project to raise awareness of these global issues. Not afraid to get dirty, our students collected enough litter to fill an entire gallery!
Students later had the chance to try out the traditional art of Batik, mixing beautiful colours together on cloth in this wax-resist dyeing technique. Finished products included technicolour turtles, psychedelic sharks and rainbow wrasse. Having flexed their creative muscles at the Batik workshop in the morning, our intrepid explorers journeyed off the beaten track, through the rainforest and across a river to reach their camping ground. After finding a suitable place to pitch up for the night, our hungry adventurers tucked into a dinner cooked by themselves in the waning light. Refreshed and refuelled, our students then ventured out into the rainforest, navigating through the opaque night on an interpretive night walk led by our experienced biologists. With bats flitting above them and the undergrowth alive beneath their feet, students were treated to canid encounters with amphibians, reptiles and – a highlight - the delectably creepy house centipede.
Camping was followed by kayaking the next morning, enabling students to experience the mangroves from an entirely new perspective. Tired, but not deterred, our wanders returned to Melina Beach Resort for some well-deserved R&R before creating their recycled trash sculptures. Working together to create engaging art work, students moulded drinks cans into turtles, sea food platters and fishing rods to highlight the damaging effect ocean pollution is having on our wildlife and our wellbeing. The trip closed with a farewell bonfire on the beach and students enjoyed some hard-earned downtime under the stars.
We’d like to take this opportunity to once again thank the students and teachers of GESS for all their hard work and enthusiasm, it was a pleasure sharing these new adventures with you and we hope to see you again next year!
To Tioman and Beyond: Students Continue Thinking Environmentally
By Leo Murphy Published - October 2016
We have recently had some very exciting news from one of our former staff members, Tina. While at Ecofieldtrips she worked alongside us and a number of schools to assess how outdoor, environmental education influences students and their attitudes towards nature and the environment. After working extensively to understand this as part of her PhD, she has now published her work and the results are very interesting.
As part of the study, students participating in our 5 day experiential trips to Tioman, Sedili, and Ipoh were asked to complete a series of questionnaires to examine their attitudes to the environment and its protection, prior to the trips, immediately following them, and 6 weeks afterwards.
These questionnaires were used to assign students an Inclusion of Nature in Self (INS) score, reflecting the degree to which students identify with the natural world and the importance of its protection. Tracking this INS from before the trip to 6 weeks afterwards Tina looked at how outdoor experiential environmental education impacts students’ attitudes.
She found that “after participating in the outdoor environmental intervention both experimental groups revealed a significantly stronger connection to nature than prior to the intervention”, demonstrating that our experiential trips really do give students a greater appreciation of nature and the world around them. Perhaps more importantly, she showed that these attitudes continue to improve up to 6 weeks after the trip. This continued increase implies that not only do students gain more awareness, but that the trips instil an enthusiasm for environmental issues that drives students to build upon this new attitude independently.
Here at Ecofieldtrips we have always believed in the importance of exposing students to the natural world and encouraging them to take ownership of their environment and the issues threatening it. It is great to have this put to the test, and even better to know that we really can get students to "Think Globally and Act Locally". Thanks Tina!
If you would like more information please check out the original article.
Introducing Our New Field Staff
By Bryony Cross Published - September 2016
This August we welcomed three new eager interns to our team. They have been working incredibly hard over the past couple of months and are all fantastic additions to our already brilliant team.
DJ, joins us from Bali, Indonesia, her passion is education and particularly has a keen interest in animal behaviour, biology and psychology. DJ has already made a big impact on trips with her ever positive and happy nature, and she hopes to make learning about the environment as fun as possible for everyone.
Jeff, a recent graduate joins us from Australia, with a strong background in both Ecology and Marine Science. His plethora of knowledge is certainly an asset to our team, and something that he enjoys sharing with all of the students he teaches. His passion lies in education after previously working as a marine science tutor at University.
Cat, brings with her a wealth of experience in teaching and Biology, graduating with a degree in Ecology and then working for the British International School in Kuala Lumpur before joining our team. Her passion for the environment and ecology is infectious, and she creates a brilliant learning environment for all students.
If you are interested in a career in environmental education Ecofieldtrips may have the perfect opportunity for you. We are looking for motivated and enthusiastic individuals for a 6 month internship beginning January 2017. For more information please visit our Jobs section.
By Leo Murphy Published - August 2016
This year has seen an exciting development for our university level programmes, with Bali being unveiled as the new location for our dissertation projects.
We launched two new research themes identified as important areas for study to inform the management and conservation of the islands unique ecology.
The first of these themes looks to investigate the health of previously unstudied seagrass meadows in the South of the island. In our first year we have been able to produce a detailed inventory of both macro-invertebrate and fish species at two sites. This data is now being analysed alongside that from our survey of the seagrass itself to identify any key associations. We are looking forward to the results with the hope of using them to develop a suite of indicator species, around which we can structure a long term monitoring plan.
Our second research theme is that of human-wildlife interfaces. In particular, the interface between Long-Tailed Macaques (Macaca fasicularis), tourist and the local community at the Sacred Monkey Forest in Ubud. With over 1100 macaques per km2 (the highest density anywhere in the world), three 700 year old temples still used by the local community and over 10,000 tourists a month all crammed in to just 10 hectares of forest, the area presents a complex and unique human-wildlife interface. With supplementary feeding from temple staff as well as from tourists, the 5 macaque troops in the area have habituated to human interactions and grow increasingly bold. Our aim is to identify the drivers behind both aggressive and non-aggressive interactions as well as their impacts on the inter and intra troop dynamics in the macaque population. The long term goal is to produce research that can inform management practices at the forest to reduce the negative elements of this human-wildlife interface. In this first year we have identified key questions that need to be addressed to begin understanding this complex issue and look forward to an even more successful second year.
All of the team at Ecofieldtrips would like to give a big thank you to our fantastic dissertation students who have put in huge amounts of hard work this year and are a credit to their respective universities.
For 2017 we are looking to continue to expand the number of studies carried out within these areas as well as introducing a third research theme, Sustainable Aquaculture in partnership with LINI, a local NGO. Stay tuned for further developments for next year’s programme.
Exploring Sri Lanka: Safari and the Sea
By Leo Murphy Published - July 2016
This summer Ecofieldtrips have been exploring new locations and activities to continue to improve the range and level of experiences we can offer student groups. In June, some of the team visited Sri Lanka to explore what this spectacular island has to offer and we are happy to report that we have not been disappointed!
We started by exploring the colonial fort of Galle, which has seen the Portuguese, Dutch and British come and go over the years. Now part of the bustling city of Galle, sitting opposite the famous Galle International Stadium cricket ground it was a perfect introduction to Sri Lanka, its history and its culture.
Just a short hop down the coast found us in the fishing town of Mirissa and the whale watching capital of the Indian Ocean. From here you are able to explore the rich waters surrounding Sri Lanka in search of both migrating Killer Whales (Orca orca) and Blue Whales (Balaenoptera musculus), the largest animal to have ever lived!
We then headed further east to the edge of Yala National Park and the Ruhunu Safari Camp. Here we set up base for the next few days and our first port of call had to be the national park. Home to the highest density of leopards (Panthera pardus) anywhere in the world, it is full to the brim with birds, mammals and reptiles. We were clearly in luck on our first day with elephants appearing as we drove through the main gate, and both a sloth bear (Melursus ursinus) and leopard calmly strolling out on to the track ahead of us. We followed this with another full day in the park as well as a visit to the Bundala Wetland Reserve and ended up with a list of well over a 100 species spotted over our three days!
We also took some time to explore the local villages. We were able to meet some fantastic, and certainly more talented people than ourselves, learning how their community industries enable them to produce a range of goods including pottery and Sri Lanka’s traditional curd dessert. We also spent some time at local beach settlement, where people come from hundreds of miles away to set up camp for the fishing season. It was amazing to see how this sustainable fishing method survives here, with men going out in to rough seas in tiny boats, only to return with huge catches of fish that they then process on the beach before selling to local markets and restaurants.
Our next, and unfortunately final, stop was the mountain town of Ella, taking in some picturesque scenery on our hike up to Ella’s rock. Our overnight stop here allowed us to catch the early morning train back to Colombo along the famous railway line through the mountains. The journey’s highlight being the spectacular views as we traveled through the forests, tea plantations and rice paddies of central Sri Lanka and was a perfect to end to an amazing week!
Now back in Singapore, the real work began and we have worked tirelessly to translate the adventure of our Sri Lanka visit into the educational, exciting and all together unforgettable programme for students to experience. Please take a look at the new Safari and the Sea programme on our Experiential Trips page.
New Ipoh Street Art
By Bryony Cross Published - June 2016
Ipoh is a fascinating town steeped in history, tradition and charm and now it has another string to add to its bow. Some fantastic new street art has been popping up since 2012 which gives us a unique opportunity to explore the historic and intriguing streets with some added new culture.
Ernest Zacharevic, who is best known for his street art work in Penang, Malaysia, has now focused his inspiration on Ipoh, collaborating with Ipoh Old Town White Coffee. Together they have produced eight murals that embody Ipoh’s, history, culture and character. Scenes include an old uncle drinking coffee, the famous iced coffee strung up in their iconic plastic bags, reminders of the tin industry that built Ipoh, and some more playful and colourful murals.
However this official collaboration isn’t the only street art to be seen in Ipoh Old Town. Eric Lai a local art school teacher has initiated another project which highlights the many cultures of Malaysia such as: Lion Dance, Indian Dance, Thaipusam festival, amongst other colourful and interesting scenes. This project has continued to be added to, and now stands a whole street full of diverse, vibrant, exciting and sometimes thought provoking pieces.
If you are planning a trip to Ipoh with us and would like this to be included in your programme, please let us know.