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 Post subject: The new rule
Unread postPosted: Sat Apr 05, 2014 11:04 am 
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Legendary Virtual Ranger
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There has been a lot of confusion over the new rule pertaining to scientific research and projects in any of the Sanparks.

I tend to be a bit of a bird of freedom, so I really had to wrap my mind around this one. I am not afraid of saying that I spent one particularly restless night tossing and turning.

Many of my thoughts turned to scientific vigor and the role of Sanparks in the international scientific community.

I have had to do research myself, and I cannot say that I enjoyed the scrutiny of a harsh supervisor. It is a matter putting ego aside and recognising that what ever is being done, has to stand up to the fundamental rules of research.

All research needs to be credible, reasonable and consistent. In addition, it has to be able to be replicated in other situations.

My son did ecology through WITS University. They were in constant contact with Sanparks to verify findings. The communication was rigorous. Their research, looking at medicinal plants, had wider implications for endangered plant species.

I have also noted research on identification of some of our rarer predators. The communication is constant in order to be consistent and credible. I have spoken to the person who was running the wild dog research and was impressed with the amount of detail going into identification, how it has to be verified and how difficult it can be at times.

All research is nullified if these basic rules do not stand up to scrutiny. This is particularly challenging when you have to rely on non scientists for details.

With this in mind I did submit my tuskers in for verification. It was important for me to do so for the sake of my own peace of mind. It was also important for me, because I value the role of research in all aspects of conservation. I respect science in its quest for truth.

What I found was that there was no consistency. Many of my pictures were deemed not good enough, as they could lead to misidentification and would not stand up to scrutiny. There was also inconsistent identification.

An example was a picture identified as Babalala. The reply I received was that it could not be Babalala. Sanparks has had no sightings for years and he was presumed dead. The picture was too recent and that there were certain identifying markers that were indistinguishable due to the poor quality of picture.

Clearly there was a complete break down of communication at some point, leading to misidentification. In research, this is just not acceptable.

I go back to saying; research is like a murder story. There is a mystery needing to be solved and then comes the courtroom drama. The search for truth involves witness statements, prying out motives and a rigorous scrutiny of the tests used and their validity. The truth can be obfuscated by failings in any one of these areas.

I am posting this because I value science. It should not be about personalities, but about seeking answers.

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 Post subject: Re: The new rule
Unread postPosted: Sat Apr 05, 2014 1:58 pm 
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Thank you, Meandering Mouse

I am not a scientist, but I used to be an editor, trying to find the essence of what each person is actually saying...

Are you saying Sanparks don't know what they are talking about when it comes to Tuskers?

Please just say yes/no.

Thanks and God bless,

Friedrich von Hörsten

PS I didn't always agree with Aat's ID of certain tuskers, and even Sanparks got confused in the past between two identical tuskers... one died, but he was seen somewhere else later, only for them to realize there were two of them!

So far I have been following the new Tusker ID thread with interest, and most of the ID work has sounded pretty solid. Only thing missing seems to be that they have NO up-to-date database of up and coming tuskers like Aat seems to have, but they seem willing to give it a go...

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 Post subject: Re: The new rule
Unread postPosted: Sat Apr 05, 2014 2:13 pm 
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Friedrich, thank you for your interest.

I cannot comment at this point, but all I can say is that of tuskers I have submitted for verification, 5 have come back with no valid verification.

I am trying to find my original request in the tusker thread and I hope that the mods can help me here.

I think they are trying to keep that thread cleaner than my bedroom. :wink:

I think that be need to submit our queries to the tusker thread and put them under the scrutiny of examination.

What I am willing to do if the mods can help, is locate my queries to Sanparks and find my queries on the tusker thread.

What does concern me at this point is that not one of us had the knowledge to question the identifications we were given. In any scientific research a couple of mistakes in one hundred can be accepted. I experienced something quite alarming.

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 Post subject: Re: The new rule
Unread postPosted: Sat Apr 05, 2014 6:43 pm 
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MMMhhhnn,....Mouse!!! your landlord not footing the bill?

Would be a typical argument for a landlord !!!

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 Post subject: Re: The new rule
Unread postPosted: Sat Apr 05, 2014 6:54 pm 
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Hello HE, doing a bit of trolling. :wink:

viewtopic.php?p=1788410#p1788410

This is called inconsitency in research.

viewtopic.php?p=985122#p985122

Doesn't take a rocket scientist, does it?

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 Post subject: Re: The new rule
Unread postPosted: Sat Apr 05, 2014 7:15 pm 
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:hmz: Hmmmm.....

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 Post subject: Re: The new rule
Unread postPosted: Sat Apr 05, 2014 7:23 pm 
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Simply put, if we have to make a claim to our land lord about why we should be trusted... we need to have a consistent payment of accounts.

I have not put in Sanparks reply that Balabala has been dead for a long time.

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 Post subject: Re: The new rule
Unread postPosted: Sun Apr 06, 2014 4:48 am 
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To be sure, people that volunteer but aren't experts can and do make mistakes. They try hard, though.

To me there was a lack of interest in this initiative and volunteers tried to fill the void. I'm glad to see salaries making more of an effort now.

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 Post subject: Re: The new rule
Unread postPosted: Sun Apr 06, 2014 4:51 am 
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Stark wrote:
To be sure, people that volunteer but aren't experts can and do make mistakes. They try hard, though.

To me there was a lack of interest in this initiative and volunteers tried to fill the void. I'm glad to see sanparks making more of an effort now.


I would have fixed my auto correct but edits aren't allowed in this thread either. :think:

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 Post subject: Re: The new rule
Unread postPosted: Sun Apr 06, 2014 6:00 am 
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Stark wrote:
Stark wrote:
To be sure, people that volunteer but aren't experts can and do make mistakes. They try hard, though.

To me there was a lack of interest in this initiative and volunteers tried to fill the void. I'm glad to see sanparks making more of an effort now.


I would have fixed my auto correct but edits aren't allowed in this thread either. :think:


Stark, I am not denying for one minute that there was a lot of hard work. I have also found the decision to write this thread deeply painful.

This is not about making mistakes, it is about the fact that it questions the validity of Sanparks forum. If you are allowing an ''expert'' onto your intellectual property, you need to be able to have confidence in the outcome.

I do not want to be the source of humiliation for anyone. I just want to bring in another perspective.

I found myself playing devil's advocate because of my own unhappiness. It is not a role I took because of indifference.'

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 Post subject: Re: The new rule
Unread postPosted: Sun Apr 06, 2014 7:06 am 
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Not sure what the point of the discussion is? Those who have and continue to support the incredible work of Aat (who never professed to be an expert about anything just a passionate amateur observer and recorder of the lives of elephants) will contribute via Aat's website and via the other forum where his work also resides. Indeed many members of this forum have already joined the other forum to do so.

Those who wish to contribute to Sanparks renewed efforts can do so here and some may choose to support both.

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 Post subject: Re: The new rule
Unread postPosted: Sun Apr 06, 2014 7:34 am 
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crackers wrote:
Not sure what the point of the discussion is? Those who have and continue to support the incredible work of Aat (who never professed to be an expert about anything just a passionate amateur observer and recorder of the lives of elephants) will contribute via Aat's website and via the other forum where his work also resides. Indeed many members of this forum have already joined the other forum to do so.

Those who wish to contribute to Sanparks renewed efforts can do so here and some may choose to support both.


Crackers, I agree, we can support who we want. Where I disagree is about the assumption that it does not matter if credibility is at at risk.

I submitted 5 tuskers to be identified by Aat and not one identification was solidly backed up by the Sanparks team. That is for me a serious problem. Maybe it is not an issue for you, but I understand the consequences of poor judgement and bad research.

I am talking a complete fail at even primary school level. Would you trust that kind of error rate?

The word ''team'' is important. Verification is essential. This has just not happened.

By all means, people are welcome to join the other website, but will anything be taken seriously by a team of scientists?

My point was about being credible and consistent. That has not been my experience.

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 Post subject: Re: The new rule
Unread postPosted: Sun Apr 06, 2014 8:11 am 
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I just want to make one more point as to why this is not something trivial.

Imagine this happening in the Rhino crisis? Think of how it would affect the fight against poaching. :hmz:

I was given an identification of an elephant that had been dead for many years. The consequences in terms of poaching are monumental.

Our contributions need to be taken seriously. They need to give patterns of distribution, disease and possible poaching hot spots.

What could be the possible consequence of even one mistake?

We sometimes think that this is our playground. It is not. It is an important tool to follow and protect wild life.

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 Post subject: Re: The new rule
Unread postPosted: Sun Apr 06, 2014 8:23 am 
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crackers wrote:
Not sure what the point of the discussion is? Those who have and continue to support the incredible work of Aat (who never professed to be an expert about anything just a passionate amateur observer and recorder of the lives of elephants) will contribute via Aat's website and via the other forum where his work also resides. Indeed many members of this forum have already joined the other forum to do so.

Those who wish to contribute to Sanparks renewed efforts can do so here and some may choose to support both.


I agree Crackers that we will each decide where we want to post our sightings for Tusker ID, and share our experiences etc,

However, I disagree with you that Aat did not profess to be an expert.

The very fact that he took it upon himself to name emerging Tuskers and that he attempted to make IDs on a regular basis (sadly sometimes incorrectly) surely demonstrates that. :wall:

He may not have actually said "I am an expert" but by his actions, the inference is definitely there.

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 Post subject: Re: The new rule
Unread postPosted: Sun Apr 06, 2014 9:06 am 
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Meandering Mouse wrote:
IWe sometimes think that this is our playground. It is not. It is an important tool to follow and protect wild life.


Very well put MM.

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