James Borrell is a biodiversity scientist and science communicator researching how people and nature can adapt to environmental change.

Two things worth saying

After our surprising success earlier in the year, all eyes are now turning towards the future.

In January 2013, an assorted team will once again be heading out in to the Empty Quarter and Dhofar Mountains of Southern Oman. It’s an achingly beautiful place, barren by first impressions, but surprisingly full of life.

This week, my good friend, and fieldwork accomplice Lawrence Ball will be taking over the science and undertaking a recce, to set the stage for the next expedition and another bout of fieldwork. I’ve gone on and on and on about Oman I know, so forgive me for just summarising two very cool things about this expedition, that I think are worth reiterating.

  • Anyone can get involved.

You don’t need to be a hardcore adventurer, whatever that is. You don’t need to be a scientist, citizen science works just fine. You don’t need to be rich, you can even get away with being a poor student. If you’re aged 18-25 then you can apply to the main expedition. Older then that? Enquire about the members expedition. You don’t need to justify it either, you can do it just because it’s something worth doing.

  • This expedition will make a difference

Earlier this year, a team of pretty ordinary folk managed to get footage of one of the rarest cats in the world. Not only that, but they collected data on birds, reptiles, insects and a variety of other mammals (including some pretty special ones). They met and worked with some brilliant Omani scientists and rangers, lived in one of the most pristine and beautiful Wadi’s in the whole of Arabia, and made a giant collective leap toward preserving it for the future. When they came back, they remembered it. They talked about it as well, some wrote about it and even spoke to great audiences about it; who listened and learned and wanted to preserve it too. In doing so, they raised the profile of conservation in Oman.

So if you put those two things together, I think it boils down to this.

Anyone can make a difference.

In 2013 a team is going back that will be ten times wiser for all that we learned this year, and there’s an opportunity to be involved. If one person reads this and takes the plunge, then it’s been worth saying again.

P.S. Just so you don’t feel short changed, here’s some nice pictures.



Plain Tiger



Dinner in a cave

Camels on the gravel plain