James borrell is a conservation scientist and science communicator, with a particular interest in how species adapt to changing climate.

Expedition Update: Salaam wa-alakum

Salaam wa-alakum min Oman, or hello from Oman as we have learnt from our new friends. We have now been joined by 10 keen Omani’s, with a combined range of expertise in the fields of zoology, biology, geology, environmental sciences and rangers.

Science work has been on going between the limited workable daylight hours, with the Thomas and Theseiger fires separating to  cover greater ground, featuring further new camera traps set up in desolate areas with the potential to attract the craved wildlife we are all here to find.  Upon setting off into the vast emptiness during the early hours of yesterday it was unusual to find how much condensation had formed overnight, leaving the landscape covered in a breath-taking low level mist. The area covered by the Thomas fire was found to have a surprising high level of flora, of which individual shoots of flowers had opened up to absorb this exceptionally infrequent morning dew.

The freshly dug pitfall trap has already proved a great success after catching a number of beetles and a lizard identified as Phrynocephalus arabicus (the species has no common name) all within the first night.
Apart from science work basic living conditions have been upgraded with a refurbishment made to the slightly windswept shelter and the introduction of male and female latrines, waste and washing up systems to maintain the high level of health and hygiene on the camp.

Initially at first glance we all believed meals would be simple and unexciting necessities. However, through the ingenious talents of varied cooking skills using only an alternate base option of pasta or rice and a few tins of vegetables, lentils  and spices, meals have become a great success across the camp. We also had our first bread making session today for chapattis, with help from our Omani friends, using only flour and water with a simple flat-plate frying pan.

As a multi-cultural integration activity we ventured out on a twilight walk across the star-lit open plains and dunes. The  Omani rangers shared their vast knowledge of the star constellations and were able to guide us back to Base Camp using the stars alone.

This article was originally published over on the BSES blog. If you would like to support conservation in Oman then there are lots of ways you can help. If you found this story interesting, then why not tell a friend and help make more people aware. Better yet, we’re returning to Oman next January and you or someone you know could get involved – find out more here.