Gambia unrest thwarts university research and conservation trip

Dr Roy Armstrong.
Dr Roy Armstrong.
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Students and staff from the University of Cumbria preparing to travel to The Gambia to take part in vital research and conservation work have been forced to put the trip on hold just days before they were due to fly.

The group were planning to leave on Saturday for the west African country following earlier successful trips which have helped confirm the existence of the dwarf crocodile which was thought to be extinct and sparked research into a disease that threatens the green monkey.

However, unrest in the country and advice from the UK government not to travel there has prompted a decision not to go.

“I first travelled there 15 years ago when I was studying towards my conservation degree,” says University of Cumbria zoology course leader Dr Roy Armstrong. “It’s a great place to be able to take second year students who I hope will be inspired by the amazing diversity of this country as I was.”

The course aims to equip students with all the necessary skills to learn about zoology.

Measuring species for real as well as monitoring their habitats builds on the key skills that students learn in Cumbria.

The party of 13 students and two staff were eagerly awaiting trip which Dr Armstrong changes lives.

“We know from feedback students say it’s the best thing they’ve ever done.

“We can teach conservation in the classroom but when they get out into the field it’s more alive,” Dr Armstrong said. “But we are never going to jeopardise people’s safety.”