Wildlife Conservation Network Partners with Sahara Conservation Fund to Save North African Ostrich with Solar Powered Laboratory

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Lab Provides Sustainable Infrastructure in Niger Desert with Technology Required to Save Species from Extinction

Four shipping containers into a sustainable camp which will include a hatchery, incubation Lab, office, and Solar Power Plant.

3D Rendering of Solar Power Plant

The Sahara Conservation Fund, an international non-governmental organization dedicated to conserving wildlife, including endangered species of the Sahara desert, in partnership with The Wildlife Conservation Network’s Solar Project, dedicated to providing solar energy to conservation projects around the world, today announces the completion of the first solar powered field laboratory custom engineered to restore and repopulate the North African Ostrich, Struthio camelus camelus, in the wild. The lab will be shipped to Niger in April 2018. Before the lab is disassembled for shipping, the developers will host a lab demonstration at 12:00 p.m., Friday, March 30 in Novato, California (101 Landing Court, Novato, CA, 94945). Press and media are invited to attend the event followed by a reception.

“Nigeriens who have been caring for the last five breeding pairs of North African Ostriches reached out to us about how we could help”, said John Newby, Sahara Conservation Fund Director. “The survival of the North African red-necked ostrich depends upon this project. The resources needed to implement our three-pronged plan including protection, captive breeding and reintroduction depend upon reliable power and water to cool the laboratory in the Sahara Desert.” By converting four shipping containers into a sustainable camp, the architects and engineers for the North African Ostrich Recovery Project created a hatchery, incubation lab, office, and solar power plant equipped to operate sustainably with only minimal water from a well one mile away.

The sustainable lab is designed to stay cool in temperatures up to 130 degrees and withstand 60 mile-per-hour winds and the threat of lightning. “The challenge was engineering a research lab that would be 40 years future-proof because we knew once the containers shipped, there was no way to redesign them in Niger. We had to think more like NASA scientists and less like architects and contractors,” said Stephen Gold, Head of the Wildlife Conservation Network’s Solar Project.

The lab features 32 KW of solar energy and has 144 KWH of usable battery storage for an incubator, hatchers, VSAT communications system, BACnet, lightning, water pumping, water heater, as well as a refrigerator and freezer. The entire system as well as two high resolution cameras will be controlled remotely by program technicians in San Francisco. Because of the extreme temperatures, all of the containers are air conditioned. Almost every component was custom-made, fitted, built and tested in California.

Though this specific lab is custom-designed to meet the unique needs of the North African Ostrich Recovery Project, the sustainable labs follow a plug-and-play model that could have far reaching applications for the conservation community. “We’ve already had interest from scientists whose main challenge in the field is a lack of infrastructure. Researchers can rethink how they do fieldwork when they have reliable power sources and onsite water – it’s a real game changer when you can have your lab with you in a remote location,” said Dr. Thomas Rabeil, Sahara Conservation Fund Science Committee Co-Chair.

To RSVP for the lab tour, please email Henry Cundill: rhcundill@gmail.com. To learn more about the Niger Ostrich Recovery Project or donate please visit: http://www.wildnet.org/solar.

About Wildlife Conservation Network

Wildlife Conservation Network protects endangered species and preserves their natural habitats by supporting entrepreneurial conservationists who pursue innovative strategies for people and wildlife to co-exist and thrive. For more information, visit wildnet.org.

About Sahara Conservation Fund

The Sahara Conservation Fund is dedicated to the conservation of wildlife and sustainable use of the landscapes and critical habitats needed for its survival, including endangered species of the Sahara desert, Sahel grasslands and highest mountain ranges in Africa. The Sahara is home to some of the most resourceful people on earth and the Sahara Conservation Fund believes, above all, in dialog and partnership with the people that use the land and its resources. For more information, visit http://www.saharaconservation.org.

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