After a final week of action packed animal research, my placement has now come to an end. The last week at Wildwood Trust saw me wade into both the wild boar and the Konik horses’ enclosures. My research is all about the effect of that wild boar have on soil and vegetation characteristics so it would not be unreasonable to wonder why I was jumping in with the Konik horses. The reason was to identify whether any soil chemistry or vegetation differences between enclosures were specifically due to wild boar or whether the same result was found for other animals. Here are a few stories from my adventures with the animals.
Prue and Sid: The Stars of the Show
Measuring the effects of wild boar behaviour meant venturing into their enclosure to collect samples. Armed with a spade, soil sample bags and a keeper with a large stick, the digging began. “But wild boar look pretty harmless, why the keeper with the stick?” I hear you shout. Well, wild boar can reach 40kg in weight and are armed with tusks and the ability to run pretty fast if you get on their bad side. Fortunately though there were no boar related dramas! Digging the two holes proved beneficial to both me and the wild boar. I got the samples I needed whilst they had fun rooting around in the newly turned over soil once we had filled the holes.
A Horse Stole My Trowel
With the samples collected from Prue and Sid’s enclosure, it was time to enter the Konik horse enclosure. These are wild horses and are the closest match to the Tarpan horse which inhabited prehistoric Britain. The Konik horses are more friendly than the wild boar, particularly Johnson, and regularly came over to say hello and check what I was up to. Whilst I was busy digging, Johnson decided to try to steal my box full of samples and equipment. He soon found he may have been slightly too ambitious so he settled for stealing my trowel. So, trowel in mouth he ran off into the woods. Luckily a few minutes later, on discovering that a metal trowel is not edible, he dropped it and soil sample collecting could carry on.
Part One – Data Collection – Completed
After a couple of brilliant weeks of research, my placement at Wildwood Trust has finished. I left Kent with a car full of soil samples and big bag of washing! But whilst this is the end of my placement, the next stage, data analysis, is only just beginning. Next, I will be taking my soil samples into the labs to carry out tests to reveal chemistry, texture and compaction.