On Wednesday 7th December the Higher Biologists, along with students from other schools from all over Scotland, attended a Biodiversity conference at Edinburgh Zoo, as part of their Global Classroom Initiative, which involved over 200 students over two days.
After a key-note speech recorded by the director of the Budongo conservation project in Uganda, the students divided into groups and attended 4 workshops throughout the day focussing on the use of DNA analysis to investigate wildlife crime, genetic diversity and the role of zoos in maintaining studbooks and overseeing breeding programmes, looking at the diversity of different ecosystems represented by animals at the zoo, and threats to biodiversity by human activities. The workshops were all highly interactive and enjoyable, and really brought some aspects of the Higher course to life. Highlights included a treasure hunt around the zoo, which involved following clues to track down ‘rhino carcasses’ (won by Mohshin and Yatika in record time), and the chance to run a breeding programme to match animals with suitable mates, ensuring that genetic diversity was maintained. The students particularly enjoyed handling the giant African land snail and the corn snake, and they had plenty of opportunities to wander around the zoo when not in workshops. The weather was amazing for December, and everyone agreed that this was the best trip so far.