Part I: Meet the team

A comprehensive survey of all of the creatures, big and small, in a region requires a scientific team of varied backgrounds. The Berbice survey team drew on the talents of ornithologists, herpetologists, mammalogists, myrmecologists, among others, and relied on the expertise of both international and local researchers.

Southern-Central Guyana Expedition GWC/WWF Biodiversity Assessment Team.

GWC’s Director of Global Biodiversity Exploration Dr. Leeanne Alonso interviewed a number of the team members for their bios below. Others wrote their own bios or spoke to freelance photographer Liz Condo.

Meet this team of explorers:

Plant team

Isaac Johnson

Uncle_Johno_Profile by Liz Condo

Botanist Isaac Johnson, better known as Uncle Johno, is an expert on the trees of Guyana. At 80 years of age, he was also the oldest member of the GWC/WWF Berbice survey team. Isaac grew up a ways up river from the team’s Berbice camp. Most of his botanical knowledge has been self-taught. With a lifetime of experience, Isaac can generally identify a tree by examining its bark and leaves. Isaac has held many positions in his lengthy career. He worked in a sawmill, then for the forestry commission and now as a private consultant. He teaches locally at the School of Forestry and has traveled extensively throughout Central and South America lecturing on the trees of Guyana. He was recently recognized for his life’s work with an award from the Minister of Amerindian Affairs. The Berbice survey is Isaac’s third field survey with GWC-WWF. His extensive knowledge of the more than 4,000 species of trees found in Guyana made him an essential member of the botany team.

Photo by: Liz Condo

Zola Narine

Bio-Zola Naraine

Zola Narine loves trees. She is a forester specializing in forest inventory. This was her third GWC-WWF-Guyana expedition: she was part of the botany team for the Rupununi and Potaro/Kaieteur expeditions. Zola enjoys working with the botany team, especially with her colleague Isaac Johnson. Zola was especially happy to have this opportunity to visit a truly virgin forest with its big trees and high diversity. She likes orchids and documented several species during the expedition. The plant team searched the forest for different species, particularly those with flowers or fruits. They walked the roads, creeks and forest trails. Zola is from northwest Guyana and now lives in Georgetown. She enjoys traveling, swimming and exploring.

Photo by: Leeanne Alonso, Global Wildlife Conservation

Santos Miguel Niño

Bio-Santos Miguel Nino

Santos Miguel Niño comes from Guanare, Venezuela, on the western side of the country. He is a professor of botany and systematics and coordinator of research at the University of Los Llanos en Guanare. Santos specializes in palms, which is very fortunate because the Upper Berbice forest was full of them! This was Santo’s first Guyana field expedition. He was supported by a veteran Guyanese team of Zola Narine and Isaac Johnson. Together they collected more than 400 plant specimens within the Konawaruk and the Berbice River camp region. They were hampered by the dry conditions and lack of flowers and fruits that are needed to identify the species, but Santos predicts that they documented at least 450 plant species during the Berbice expedition.

Photo by: Leeanne Alonso, Global Wildlife Conservation

Ant team

Leeanne Alonso

Leeanne Alonso by Leeanne Alonso

Leeanne Alonso is GWC’s director of Global Biodiversity Conservation and the scientific team leader for the Berbice expedition. She has coordinated and led more than 40 biodiversity surveys around the world, including seven biodiversity surveys in the Guiana Shield. Over the past year, she has been working closely with WWF-Guyana to carry out three surveys in Guyana. Leeanne earned her doctorate in biology from Harvard University, focusing on tropical ecology. Leeanne greatly enjoys exploring Guyana, which she views as a central part of the largest and best-preserved rainforest in the world. She feels that the diversity and wildness of Guyana’s forests and savannahs make them particularly interesting to explore and essential to preserve. Leeanne was especially excited about exploring the Upper Berbice region, which has only recently been accessible to scientists. In addition to coordinating surveys, Leeanne specializes in surveying ants. Leeanne took particular interest in the ants of the Upper Berbice region, as they showed clear differences in species composition between the two forests the team surveyed.

Photo courtesy of: Leeanne Alonso, Global Wildlife Conservation

Kellon Austin

Kellon Austin

Kellon Austin was born and raised in Kwakwani and works in the logging industry. He says he enjoyed being out in the field with the survey team, discovering new animals each day. He liked collecting ants and was especially helpful sifting leaf litter for the ant colletions. Kellon sifted about 30 m2 of leaf litter in order to get to the tiny ants that live in the leaf litter. When not chasing ants, Kellon plays basketball with his cousin Anil and others in Kwakwani.

Photo by: Leeanne Alonso, Global Wildlife Conservation

Michael Branstetter

Southern-Central Guyana Expedition GWC/WWF Biodiversity Assessment Team.

Currently a postdoctoral scholar at the University of Utah, Dr. Michael Branstetter has a Ph.D. in Entomology from the University of California-Davis. The Berbice expedition was his first trip to Guyana and his first expedition with the GWC-WWF-Guyana biodiversity assessment team. Michael is an expert in ant diversity and has an active research program focused on discovering and documenting the ant species of Central and South America. In his current job, Michael is working on a project funded by the National Science Foundation, which aims to understand the origins of montane ants in the tropics. This project focuses on ants that dwell in leaf-litter and combines traditional taxonomic work (e.g. describing new species), with cutting-edge molecular lab techniques. For the Berbice survey, Michael used a variety of ant collecting techniques, but emphasized leaf-litter sampling and hand collecting. In total he collected more than 100 litter samples, which together will most likely yield 200-300 different ant species. Michael says he was amazed with how pristine the forest was around the Berbice River and was excited to find new ant genera and species that only occur in South America. One of these ants was Gigantiops destructor, a species that has very large eyes and can jump to avoid enemies. Another was Daceton armigerum, which lives exclusively in trees and is exquisitely adapted to foraging along tree trunks and branches.

Photo by: Liz Condo

Anil Shakespeare

Anil Shakespeare

Anil Shakespeare is from Kwakwani where he works in logging, the main local industry. Anil assisted both the survey team’s bat team and ant team with their collections. Anil says he was amazed at the diversity of bats in the area, but being the smart guy that he is, preferred catching ants. His favorite ant was a small black Pheidole that came to his cookie baits and brought out its big-headed soldiers. Anil enjoys playing basketball.

Photo by: Leeanne Alonso, Global Wildlife Conservation

Water beetle team

Nelanie La Cruz

Nelanie la Cruz

Originally from Matthew’s Ridge in northwest Guyana, Nelanie La Cruz recently graduated from the University of Guyana with a bachelor’s degree in environmental studies. Along with her pal Shari Salisbury, Nelanie worked with Andrew Short on the the expedition’s aquatic insect team. She and Shari also took quantitative samples to assess water quality using aquatic insects. Nelanie is very interested in water quality and hopes to continue to work in this field using her experience on the three Guyana expeditions to develop a good method for assessing water quality using insects. She says she was also delighted to be working with two of her father’s cousins—Dexter Torres and Edmund Torres—on the expedition.

Photo by: Leeanne Alonso, Global Wildlife Conservation

Andrew Short

Southern-Central Guyana Expedition GWC/WWF Biodiversity Assessment Team.

Dr. Andrew Short received his Bachelor of Science from the University of Delaware, and Ph.D. from Cornell University, both in Entomology. He is presently an assistant professor and curator of entomology at the University of Kansas Biodiversity Institute and Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology. Andrew’s research focuses on aquatic beetle diversity and evolution, with a strong focus on the Guiana Shield. Andrew has been on more than 30 field expeditions, primarily in Venezuela, Guyana, and Suriname, collaborating with GWC and WWF on several of them. During the Berbice expedition, Andrew led a hard-working team to search for tiny water beetles in any water body they could find. Andrew has described more than 170 species of insects that are new to science and expects to find several more in the Upper Berbice.

Photo by: Liz Condo

Shari Salisbury

Bio-Shari Salisbury

In November, Shari Salisbury graduated from the Faculty of Agriculture and Forestry at the University of Guyana. Shari is a field expedition veteran—she also participated in the South Rupununi and Potaro/Kaieteur expeditions with GWC and WWF-Guyana. Shari was a key part of the aquatic insect team, working with Andrew Short and Nelanie la Cruz. They searched the streams for aquatic beetles and took standardized samples to compare between sites. Shari says she enjoys working with insects and especially likes the field expeditions because she is able to visit parts of Guyana that she has never seen before.

Photo by: Leeanne Alonso, Global Wildlife Conservation

Crustacean team

Chetwynd Osborne

Southern-Central Guyana Expedition GWC/WWF Biodiversity Assessment Team.

Chetwynd Osborne recently graduated from the University of Guyana with a bachelor’s degree in biology. This was his third biodiversity expedition with the GWC-WWF-Guyana team. He also joined the Rupununi and the Kaieteur expedition as a field assistant for small mammals and decapoda crustaceans respectively. He spent the last year and a half doing fieldwork, including leading the fauna team for an Environmental Impact Assessment with Environmental Engineering Solutions (EES). Chetwynd also worked with Conservation International (CI) on a rapid assessment along the Linden-Lethem road as a field assistant for water quality. For the Berbice survey, Chetwynd led the Decapoda crustaceans field team, sampling several different habitat types. The team covered a lot of distance in order to evaluate variations in species number and locations. Chetwynd says he was excited to see such rich forest diversity and the virgin forest at Berbice.

Photo by: Leeanne Alonso, Global Wildlife Conservation

Dragonfly and Damselfly team

Joemaine Archer

Bio-Joemaine Archer

Joemaine Archer is from Kawakawani where he is a businessman. The Berbice expedition was his first experience on a scientific field expedition and his first visit to this region of the rainforest. Jomaine developed a keen interest in dragonflies and damselflies, ably assisting Rosser Garrison and Natalia von Ellenrieder in catching these fast-flying insects. Joemaine courageously walked the creeks and forests in search of dragonflies, especially during sunny times of the day. He also helped Andrew Snyder catch reptiles and amphibians. Jomaine says he was especially impressed with the snakes of the region, including venomous laberia snakes that he wrestles with his bare hands (!).

Photo by: Leeanne Alonso

Rosser Garrison

Picture_Rosser by Liz Condo

Dr. Rosser Garrison’s passion for dragonflies started when he was a little kid and never abated. He obtained his Bachelor of Science from Northern Arizona University in Flagstaff, Arizona in 1971; his Master of Science in 1974 and his Ph.D. in 1979 from the University of California in Berkeley, California. Each of his degrees focused on the ecology and systematics of dragonflies and damselflies.

Rosser worked for two years in Puerto Rico assessing the terrestrial invertebrate diversity of El Verde Field Station, and conducted numerous field trips to many countries in the neotropical region, many in collaboration with local researchers in Argentina, Brazil, Costa Rica, and Mexico, among others. He currently works as an insect biosystematist for the California Department of Food and Agriculture. Rosser spent his time in the Upper Berbice searching for odonata along the small creeks and the Berbice River. The dry conditions made finding dragonflies and damselflies more difficult, but he was up for the challenge!

Photo by: Liz Condo

Natalia von Ellenreider

Picture_Natalia by Liz Condo

Dr. Natalia von Ellenrieder obtained her Bachelor of Science and master’s degree in 1996 and Ph.D. in 1999 at the University of La Plata in her native Argentina. She conducted postdoctoral studies dealing with the systematics, biodiversity and distribution of Neotropical odonates at the Naturkunde Museum Stuttgart in Germany in 2000, and at the Natural History Museum of LA in California in 2001. After working as a researcher for some years for the Argentine Research Council, she now works for the California Department of Food and Agriculture as an insect biosystematist. This was Natalia’s third biodiversity expedition to the Guiana Shield, and first time to eastern Guyana. She says she enjoyed walking the black creeks with Joemaine in search of her fast-flying prey. Natalia is currently working with Rosser Garrison on a taxonomic revision of some of the damselflies endemic to the Guiana Shield.

Photo by: Liz Condo

Fish team

Leanna Kalicharan

Leanna Kalicharan_provided by Leanna

Leanna Kalicharan graduated from the University of Guyana in 2013 with a bachelor’s degree in biology the same year she joined the initial GWC-WWF expedition to the southcentral region of Guyana. Being a fish enthusiast, she was privileged to join the fish team with expert leader Prof. Donald Taphorn, whom she continued to work with on this third expedition.

Photo coutesy of: Leanna Kalicharan 

Elford Liverpool

Elford pic

Elford Liverpool holds a masters degree in biology and is a graduate from the University of Guyana with more than 11 years of field experience in biodiversity surveys and related studies. He is competent in a number of field-based methods for many taxa, including plants, birds, mammals, reptiles, amphibians, fishes and invertebrates. He extensively works on fishes and ecology with emphasis on taxonomy and impacts of environmental degradation on diversity and distribution. He has gone on two biodiversity expeditions with the GWC-WWF-Guyana team over the last two years. During the Berbice survey, Elford worked with one of the world’s leading fish scientists, Prof. Donald Taphorn. Elford worked on collection and inventory of fishes, water quality and habitat data collection throughout the expedition. Elford says that further surveys should be conducted to get a better understanding of the diversity in Berbice River.

Photo courtesy of: Elford Liverpool

Donald Taphorn

Southern-Central Guyana Expedition GWC/WWF Biodiversity Assessment Team.

Dr. Donald Taphorn has been studying South American fishes for more than 50 years, first as an avid freshwater aquarium hobbyist; then as an undergrad at Southern Illinois University in Edwardsville, Illinois; later as a grad student at the University of Florida in Gainesville; and then as a university teacher for 30 years in Venezuela, mostly in Guanare where he taught zoology and aquatic resource management to environmental engineering students. He has published more than 170 scientific papers on the fishes of South America. His work on the freshwater fishes of Guyana began in 1973. He has participated in the fish surveys of all three GWC-WWF-Guyana expeditions in Guyana. He says he has enjoyed the capable collaboration of many scientists, among them Jon Armbruster and David Werneke from Auburn University, Hernán López-Fernández and Matt Kolmann from the Royal Ontario Museum and University of Toronto, and Calvin Bernard and Elford Liverpool (and their students) from the University of Georgetown.

Photo by: Liz Condo

Francesco Janzen

Francesco

Francesco Janzen is currently working on his master’s degree at the University of Toronto. His work currently involves studying the order of fishes the Gymnotiformes, or the knifefishes. These fishes can produce electricity used for communication, which is Francesco’s field of interest. For the Berbice survey, Francesco worked with the fish team, collecting fishes to assess biodiversity, and collect tissues for DNA analyses. Spending most of the time in water, day and night, the team was also able to directly assess the human impact and health of the river, all while avoiding hungry caiman. Francesco says he greatly enjoyed the experience, as seeing the amazing fishes Guyana had to offer was a rare and wonderful opportunity.

Photo courtesy of: Francesco Janzen

Bird team

Brian O’Shea

Southern-Central Guyana Expedition GWC/WWF Biodiversity Assessment Team.

Brian O’Shea holds a Bachelor of Arts in Biology from Reed College and a Ph.D. in Biological Sciences from Louisiana State University. He is currently the collections manager for Ornithology at the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences. Brian has been conducting fieldwork on birds in Guyana and Suriname for the past 15 years, in association with the Smithsonian Institution, Conservation International, WWF, and Operation Wallacea. Brian’s surveys have documented several new country records and range extensions within the Guiana Shield, and improved our understanding of avian species distributions in the region. The Berbice survey expedition was Brian’s third survey with the GWC/WWF team.  Brian looked forward to visiting the upper Berbice and Mazaruni Rivers, where no formal ornithology surveys had yet been done. He rose early, sometimes before 4 a.m., and spent long days walking trails with his recording gear to detect and record the highest possible number of species. His goal was to find high diversity and many endemic species, as well as an abundance of large game birds and parrots, for which the great forests of the Guiana Shield are a critical stronghold.

Photo by: Liz Condo

Reptile and amphibian team

Fred Austin

Fred Austin

Fred Austin is a long-time resident of Kwakwani, where he moved from the Essequibo to start his family. His son Kellon was also part of the Berbice survey team. Fred works in logging, fishing and hunting, and sometimes in mining. Fred was an essential part of the survey team. He set up the camps, provided and captained the boat on the Berbice River, and helped with camp maintenance. By day, Fred assisted the plant team with collecting fruits and flowers high up in the trees and by night he searched for frogs and snakes along the creeks and in the swamps with the herpetology team. He says he especially enjoyed his night walks with Andrew Snyder and Major Deberu looking for snakes. When a caiman tried to bite their boat, Fred moved quickly. Fred and Major had a competition over who could find the most reptiles, and Fred won!

Photo by: Leeanne Alonso, Global Wildlife Conservation

Major Deberu

Major Deberu

Major Deberu is also from Kwakwani and has been working in the woods for a long time, doing various kinds of work such as chainsawing. He also sometimes works in gold and diamond mining. Major was a huge asset to the Berbice survey team, setting up the two camps and assisting everyone with anything they needed. He is especially interested in snakes and helped the reptile and amphibian team during the night, searching for frogs and snakes. One night he spotted a large male pit viper, locally known as “labaria,” and helped to collect it safely. During his life Major has been bitten several times by these venomous snakes, so he has intimate knowledge about how dangerous they are. Major and Andrew Snyder, a herptelogist on the survey team, spent many nights discussing and exchanging knowledge about the natural history of snakes and amphibians.

Photo by: Leeanne Alonso, Global Wildlife Conservation

Andrew Snyder

Southern-Central Guyana Expedition GWC/WWF Biodiversity Assessment Team.

Andrew Snyder obtained a Bachelor of Science from the University of Maryland, College Park, in 2009. He studied the forests of Honduras before his focus shifted to Guyana. Andrew is now a Ph.D. student at the University of Mississippi where he uses reptiles and amphibians to examine phylogeographic patterns across the Guiana Shield. As a result, he has travelled extensively throughout Guyana for his research. Andrew acted as the herpetologist for the first three Operation Wallacea expeditions to Iwokrama and Surama, Guyana and led the reptile and amphibian surveys for the GWC-WWF-Guyana Berbice team. In addition to his research, Andrew is also a photographer dedicated to raising awareness about Guyana’s biodiversity. During this survey, Andrew again explored the focal areas for reptiles and amphibians. These surveys marked the first herpetofaunal surveys to these regions. Andrew spent long hours early in the morning and late into the evening searching in every habitat for reptiles and amphibians. His team walked through the forest and along stream and river edges, split open rotten logs, turned over rocks, and raked through leaf litter, in search of his targets. While the goal always includes trying to find species new to science, Andrew hoped to find evidence of many medium-large bodied reptiles like caimans and anacondas, which are positive signs of healthy, unexploited ecosystems.

Photo by: Liz Condo

Small mammals team

Carlisa Byrne

Bio-Carlisa Byrne

Carlisa Byrne is from Mahichony on the east coast of Guyana. She is now living in Georgetown and recently graduated from the University of Guyana with a bachelor’s degree in biology in November. Carlisa assisted Indranee Roopsind and Waldyke Prince with the small mammal trapping. This was Carlisa’s first major field trip. She feels that the Berbice expedition was one of the most educational and extensive field experiences she has ever had. She says she was impressed with the tall pristine forest but was not so fond of the vampire bat that tried to bite her as they photographed it!

Photo by: Leeanne Alonso, Global Wildlife Conservation

Waldyke “Wally” Prince

Wally Prince

Wally Prince is an experienced field researcher who got his start in 1990. He received his Bachelor of Science in Biology in 1997 and then worked at rainforest conservation organization Iwokrama between 1997 an 2010 doing wildlife surveys, environmental education and tourism. Wally received fellowships to do internships and field research with the Smithsonian Institute and the American Museum of Natural History in the 1990s and attended the Smithsonian Biodiversity Assessment course in 1995. Wally is an all-encompassing naturalist but is especially interested in birds, reptiles, and amphibians. He conducts tours around Guyana. On the Berbice survey, Wally worked with survey team member Indranee Roopsind to survey bats and rats. He had to work late into the night, checking the bat nets and small mammal traps frequently. He was excited about this particular expedition because this area had not been surveyed and is still relatively undisturbed, which was evident in the abundance of wildlife (and their tracks) the survey team observed.

Photo by Leeanne Alonso, Global Wildlife Conservation

Johnny Rob

Johnny Rob by Leeanne Alonso

Johnny Rob lives in nearby Kawakawani where he is involved in the region’s main occupations of logging and hunting. This was his first trip to the forest with a scientific team and he enjoyed seeing all the animals and plants and meeting the team. Johnny was keen and enthusiastic to assist all members of the expedition team. He was a key player on the ant team, sifting litter and collecting ants with Michael Branstetter. He also helped the bat team to check nets for bats and take photos of the captured animals late into the night. All of the bats were interesting, Johnny says, but especially the vampire bat. He also helped to catch snakes and was hoping that the team would find a really big kamudi (anaconda) for him to capture.

Photo by: Leeanne Alonso, Global Wildlife Conservation

Indranee Roopsind

Bio-Indranee Roopsind

Indranee Roopsind is a Guyanese field biologist who has done field expeditions all over Guyana for 14 years, studying reptiles and amphibians, large and small mammals, and fishes. She started her field career at rainforest conservation organization Iwokrama and has settled in the north Rupununi, where she has good access to field sites. Indranee is particularly interested in linking science with traditional knowledge of the indigenous peoples to help guide management of natural resources. On this survey expedition, Indranee worked with Waldyke Prince and Carlisa Bryne as the small mammal team. Each night they checked mist-nets for bats and live traps for small mammals. They documented at least 14 bat species and one spiny rat.

Photo by: Leeanne Alonso, Global Wildlife Conservation

Large mammals team

Leroy Ignacio

Leroy Ignacio

Leroy Ignacio is from the South Rupununi Savannah, Guyana, but is well acquatinted with the rainforest. Leroy is an all-around naturalist, working for the Dadanawa Ranch leading eco-tours to the Rupununi, the Rewa region and throughout Guyana. The Berbice survey was Leroy’s second experience with the GWC-WWF biodiversity team. For both surveys, Leroy worked with the large mammal team to put out camera traps throughout the forest to catch animals on film as they passed in front of the camera. Leroy is particularly interested, and good at, working with local communities to involve them in community resource management and wildlife monitoring. He strongly encourages the local people of Kwakwani to develop eco-tourism in the Upper Berbice.

Photo by: Leeanne Alonso, Global Wildlife Conservation

Meshach Pierre

Bio-Meshach Pierre

Meshach Pierre recently graduated from the University of Guyana with a bachelor’s degree in biology. This was his second expedition with the GWC-WWF-Guyana survey team. He also participated in the GWC-WWF-Guyana Rupununi expedition as field assistant for amphibians and reptiles. He spent the last year and a half doing fieldwork, including leading bird banding studies for the Operation Wallacea program at Iwokrama and Surama. For this survey expedition, Meshach worked with Panthera leading the large mammal/camera trapping field team, along with survey team members Leroy Ignacio and Dexter Torres from the Rupununi. The team put out 32 camera traps around the area, each one at least 1.4 kilometers from the last camera. Because of this, they walked a great distance through the forest, seeing more of it than most of the team and encountering lots of wildlife along the way.

Photo by: Leeanne Alonso, Global Wildlife Conservation

Edmund Torres

Edmund Torres

Edmund Torres is originally from Morucka in the northwest of Guyana and has lived in Kwakwani for 14 years. He has been working in the logging industry and is experienced in the forest. This was Edmund’s first survey expedition and first time he had set out camera traps for large mammals. He spent long hours with survey team members Meshach, Leroy and Dexter hiking through the forest. He saw a puma, tortoises, peccary, bearded saki, brown capuchin and caiman during their treks. Edmund enjoys walking through the forest and taking credit for preventing Meshach from getting lost.

Photo by: Leeanne Alonso, Global Wildlife Conservation

Dexter Torres

Dexter Torres

Dexter Torres is from Anai in the North Rupununi, Guyana. Dexter has extensive experience working in the forest. He worked at rainforest conservation organization Iwokrama as a forest ranger for 13 years from 1996 until 2010. He now works as a tour guide and resource for Wowetta village. Dexter specializes in birds but is a general naturalist as needed. For this survey expedition, Dexter is a key part of the large mammal team, working with survey team members Meshach Pierre, Leroy Ignacio, and Edmund Torres. The team put out 32 cameras spread widely throughout the forest, trekking long distances and braving pumas everyday. Dexter says he enjoyed visiting these different forests but was shocked to see the extent of logging that has already taken place in this area. He says he is happy to see such high abundance of wildlife in this forest and hopes for their protection, in addition to the protection of their habitat.

Photo by Leeanne Alonso, Global Wildlife Conservation

Photographic team

LizBerbice

Elizabeth “Liz” Condo

Liz Condo is a freelance photographer and joined the survey team to document the excitement and activity of the expedition. Originally from Ohio, she moved to Louisiana where she worked at the Baton Rouge Advocate newspaper for six years and met her husband, Brian O’Shea, a survey team ornithologist. She currently lives in Raleigh, North Carolina. Liz loves nature and the outdoors, so was excited to have the opportunity to visit one of Guyana’s most pristine rainforests. Liz says she enjoyed spending time with each of the expedition survey groups, seeing firsthand how they conduct their research and what they found. She says it has been eye-opening to learn about so many different types of animals and plants from the diverse group of survey team specialists. Liz says one of her favorite species documented during the expedition was the beautiful emerald-eyed tree frog that changes colors from day to night so that it does not absorb much heat during the day.

Photo by: Leeanne Alonso, Global Wildlife Conservation

Daring drivers and awesome support staff

Dale “Rubbers” de Mendonca

Dale Rubbers de Mendoca by Leeanne Alonso

Dale de Mendonca was the survey team’s main man, driver extraordinaire, and camp coordinator. Dale was primarily responsible for getting the survey team safely to and from the field. Dale has done work for WWF-Guyana for the last seven years as an expeditor and jack-of-all trades. Dale says he was extremely happy to be out of the traffic of Georgetown and to be taking on the off-road driving experience. Dale loves being outdoors and affiliated with all the wildlife of the region. Dale was certainly is in his true element in the wild.

Photo by: Leeanne Alonso, Global Wildlife Conservation

Danny Gordon

Danny Gordon

The Berbice team would be lost without Danny Gordon, the team’s exceptional camp coordinator. Despite hailing from Georgetown, Danny is at home in the forest. After he coordinated the highly successful second expedition on the Potaro River in May, WWF again contracted Danny to coordinate this third survey. Danny came out early to set up the Berbice River campsite with a team of local guys so it was ready and waiting for the team when everyone arrived. His superb organizational skills kept the camp running smoothly all week. He then went ahead to the Berbice White Sands campsite with a small team to set up the second campsite. Danny is a great team player, always cheerful and helpful, and a favorite of all the survey team participants. He really understands the challenges of wildlife conservation and the importance of working with local communities.

Photo by: Leeanne Alonso, Global Wildlife Conservation

Jermaine Granom

Jermaine Granom is from Kwakwani where he has a driving/transport business. Jermaine was one of the drivers for the survey team, providing his truck for the entire expedition. He drove the team to various sampling sites up and down the road, at both campsites. He also provided two mini-buses for the team to get back to Georgetown. Jermaine and his wife are expecting a baby soon. The suvey team is thankful to Jermaine for providing them with safe driving throughout the expedition.

Survey coordinators

Chuck and friends on truck

Chuck Hutchinson

Chuck Hutchinson has worked as a field-based conservation planner and program manager in Africa and the Guianas for more than 20 years, managing long-term protected area planning and development initiatives in Ghana, Suriname and South Africa. Chuck joined WWF in December 2012. In 2013 he established the Biodiversity Assessment Team (BAT) brand and program through a partnership with GWC where he has led the process to identify and select biodiversity survey sites, including the latest – the Upper Berbice.

Photo by: Leeanne Alonso, Global Wildlife Conservation

Aiesha Williams

Aisha

Aiesha loves nature and the sciences. She graduated from the University of Guyana with a bachelor’s degree in biology in 2000, then from the University of Kent, Canterbury in 2007 with a Master of Science in Conservation and Tourism. Aiesha has worked in the natural resources and conservation field for almost 15 years, first for the Guyana Environmental Protection Agency on a project that assessed the wildlife trade. Then subsequently at Iwokrama with projects on wildlife research and monitoring within Iwokrama Forest and the North Rupununi. She is now the biodiversity officer for WWF-Guyana, managing activities related to protected areas and biodiversity, and has led the other two previous GWC-WWF biodiversity surveys completed over the last year. For the Berbice Survey, Aiesha led the various aspects of the survey, including logistics, assembling the team, and some technical coordination. Aiesha says she sees Guyana’s wealth in its rich natural resources and diversity, and is passionate about maintaining and protecting this wealth for the benefit of all Guyanese.

Wonderful cooks

Cindy Bullen

Bio-Cindy Bullen

Cindy Bullen was one of the expert camp cooks. She hails from Kitty, a region of Georgetown, where she is a professional caterer. The team treated her especially kind because this was her first field catering job and first GWC-WWF-Guyana expedition. Cindy enjoys cooking everything. And the team enjoyed eating her delicious meals! When she is not out in the field, Cindy likes to read and sew and go to the gym at least three times a week. Her favorite exercise is Zumba! This is a very good thing so she can be fit for the field. Cindy has three daughters in Georgetown who also delight in her cooking. She says she enjoyed being away from the hustle and bustle of Georgetown, and was in awe of all that nature has to offer out in the field.

Photo by: Leeanne Alonso, Global Wildlife Conservation

Karen Gonsalves

Bio-Karen Gonsalves

Karen Gonsalves is an intrepid field caterer. The team was delighted to have her back on her second GWC-WWF-Guyana field expedition because of her terrific cooking on the Potaro/Kaieteur biodiversity survey. She is multi-talented: a cook, electrician, carpenter, plumber, mechanic, and camp organizer. She keeps the team in line and working hard. She says she enjoys field expeditions, especially making new friends and the comraderie of the camp. She hoped to see a jaguar during the field expedition, but didn’t want to see it too closely!

Photo by: Leeanne Alonso, Global Wildlife Conservation

Collette Vanlewin

Bio-Collette Vanlewin

Collette Vanlewin is from Kawakawani, the nearest town to the team’s field camp. She grew up there along the beautiful Berbice River, where she swam with caiman and ahaimara. In Kawakawani, Collette tends her own house as well as caters for weddings and other functions. She likes cooking fried rice, cook-up, chowmein and especially likes to prepare curry. She was great at making the team’s favorite bakes for breakfast! Collette has four children and two grandchildren. She says she had fun with the Berbice survey team, taking care of the meals, meeting new people, and seeing all the interesting animals around camp.

Photo by: Leeanne Alonso, Global Wildlife Conservation

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About the Author

Leeanne Alonso

Leeanne Alonso

Dr. Leeanne E. Alonso, formerly GWC’s director of Global Biodiversity Exploration, has coordinated and led over 45 scientific explorations in 25 countries to document species richness and guide conservation actions.

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