Students in Nescot’s Animal Studies department have launched a major fundraising drive in preparation for a conservation trip to Mexico.
A group of 24 learners hope to travel to Central America in June 2014 to take part in a research project, but must raise £60,000 between them in order to go.
Plans range from a sponsored walk around Richmond Park on August 29 to washing cars, with the students also contributing money earned from part-time and summer jobs.
“This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for the students to get involved with a very high quality of research,” said head of department Adam Beral.
“Although it might seem a lot of money, if the students were to try to arrange a trip like this later on in their lives it would be significantly more and probably prohibitively expensive.
“The experience will also be invaluable for students who are hoping for a career in research, which can be quite a difficult field to break into.”
Adam has also contributed to the cause, with £200 raised from taking part in the Half Mucker, a 13-mile race with obstacles.
The students, along with Adam and staff Clodagh O’Driscoll and Rebecca Dean, are hoping to travel to the Calakmul Biosphere Reserve, a UNESCO World Heritage Site in the Yucatan peninsula which is home to jaguars, crocodiles and more than 230 species of birds.
The group will be monitoring ecosystem changes, helping with biodiversity surveys by recording data on trees, mammals, reptiles, amphibians and birds.
They will also spend time in Yal-Ku Lagoon in Akumal, completing tasks including measuring water quality, abundance surveys of lion fish and sea urchins, and checking the numbers and distribution of turtle nesting sites.