Dr. Allen Allison on an Expedition to New Britain, PNG – Part 2

An old mine site in the Baining Mountains, where the team has set up their field camp (blue rectangle at the bottom of the image).

Dr. Allison has been very busy on this trip!  But luckily for us, he’s not too busy to send some great photos of his camp and the team of people working alongside him.

Here is a list of the other people on the expedition:

Jimmy Anamiato – Papua New Guinea National Museum
Raymon Joshua – Conservation Advocate in the Baining Mountains
Ed de Vogel – Botanist at the Naturalis Biodiversity Centre, Leiden, Netherlands and the world’s authority on New Guinea region orchids
John Trochet – Ornithologist at the UC Davis Museum of Wildlife Biology
Irene Engilis – Collections Manager at the UC Davis Museum of Wildlife Biology
Kore Maraia – Masters student at the Papua New Guinea University of Technology
Nittya Simard – Prospective PhD student residing in New Ireland with her husband and interested in frogs
Michael Sundue – Botanist at the University of Vermont and a specialist on ferns
Chris Muller – Entomologist at the Australian Museum specializing on butterflies

There are also 8 field assistants that have been hired from the surrounding region to help with the expedition.  Why do they need so many helping hands?  There are two main reasons:

  1. Because scientists from other countries are very good at finding plants and animals, but no one knows the New Guinea forests like the people who were born and raised in them. Dr. Allison has always said that the most effective and efficient way to hunt for reptiles and amphibians in Papua New Guinea is to find a Papua New Guinean who knows where to find them.  They can see and hear things in the forest that we would never notice.
  2. Because after you find all those plants and animals, there’s still a tremendous amount of work to be done! Each specimen will need to be preserved and packaged for shipment to various museums.  And each type of specimen (plant, reptile, amphibian, bird, mammal or insect) will need to be preserved in a different way.  Plants will need to be dried and pressed onto sheets of paper.  Insects will need to be sorted and pinned in place.  Birds and mammals will need to be skinned and stuffed.  Reptiles and amphibians will need to be fixed with formaldehyde and then stored in alcohol.
Baining Mountains, with Mt. Sinivit in the distance.
One of the camp’s sleeping shelters; tents are on platforms under the green tarp. Ed de Vogel (left) and Raymon Joshua (right).

And don’t forget that the data for each specimen (when and where it was collected) will need to be meticulously recorded.  Without data, the specimens won’t be of much scientific use, which would make all this effort for naught.

Stay tuned in the coming weeks for more pictures of the plants and animals they’re finding!