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Explore 2017 Friday night lecture
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Explore 2017 Friday night lecture

The Society's annual fieldwork and expedition weekend begins with a Friday evening lecture.

Flight of the Swans

One woman. 7,000 km. 11 countries. By paramotor. The Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust's daring quest to save Bewick’s swans.

  • Friday 10 November 2017 at 6.30pm
  • Royal Geographical Society (with IBG), London SW7 2AR

Between 1995 and 2010, numbers of swans making the migration from arctic Russia to northern Europe plummeted by more than a third – from 29,000 to just 18,000. The Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust (WWT) put a totally new spin on migration when Sacha Dench made an epic 7,000km journey by paramotor, following the Bewick’s swans' arctic breeding grounds back to the UK. By joining the swans on their migration, Sacha and the expedition team were able to see for themselves just why swans are unable to survive  the journey. Through Flight of the Swans WWT gathered first-hand evidence and information that, combined with existing research, is contributing to life-saving conservation action right along the Bewick’s migratory flyway.

About the speakers

Sacha Dench: With four years paramotoring experience, eight years paragliding expertise, and a day job – as WWT’s head of media – Flight of the Swans leader Sacha is at home in the skies. And she’s no stranger to the oceans either. In fact, Sacha’s a British national free-diving champion – able to hold her breath for an astonishing 6 minutes and 22 seconds. Sacha, an Australian-born biologist, after studying biology at University College London worked as a turtle geneticist, with sharks and then for the Environment Agency on pollution. But about 15 years ago she moved into conservation and media production, working for wildlife charities.

Julia Newth: More than a decade of swan research has taken Julia on frequent expeditions to breeding grounds in the Russian arctic and Iceland where she has spent many hours running through swamps and leaping out of boats, all in the name of science. She also studies the Bewick’s swans through identifying individuals by their unique bill patterns and monitoring their progress throughout the winters in the UK, all to help unravel the mysteries of their lives, loves and the threats they are facing.

The pre-Explore lecture is held annually in memory of Peter Smith, a long-standing RGS-IBG supporter and trustee.

Tickets: Free event. No advance booking required.

For further information please contact Geography Outdoors on +44 (0)207 591 3030 or email go@rgs.org.

Previous Explore Friday night lectures have included:

Future challenges for exploration and fieldwork: a selection of TED-style talks to celebrate the 40th anniversary of Explore

Inspiring a generation: why expedition for the young, and the young at heart, matters
Phil Avery and members of the Bohunt School Greenland expedition, 2015

Drone Revolution: a new tool for exploration and field research
Steve Roest and Mark Allan, 2014

Sailing the Line: across the Pacific
Emily Penn, 2013

London2London: via the world
Sarah Outen, 2012



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