By Valerie Lewis,2014-06-29 09:03
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    PART 1

    A general guide to all TBA courses

     Contains important information on:

     • The course

     • Forms you need to send TBA

     • Preparation

     • What to expect


    3 ? 1. A brief introduction to the TBA and its courses

    Activities of the TBA 3 TBA courses 3 Teachers on TBA courses 3 Typical course outline 3

    4 ? 2. How do I register for the course?

    Payment of deposit & course fees 4 Scholarships 5 Liability release form and course registration 5 Key dates 5

    6 ? 3. What do I need to do to prepare for the course?

    Passports 6 Getting a visa 6 Flights 6 Money 7 Health, medical and safety advice 7 What to bring with you 8 Fundraising 10

    10 ? 4. Life on a TBA course

    What will life be like on a TBA course 10 What to expect on the course 10 Meals 10

    11 ? What you need to send to the TBA

    11 Payment of deposit and course fees (European & „other‟ participants only*)

    12 Form 1 - Bank details ( African & ASEAN participants only)

    13 Form 2 - TBA liability release form (All participants)

    14 Form 3 - Course registration (All participants)

     ? Checklists 15 For African & ASEAN participants 15 For European & „other‟ participants 16

    17 ? How to contact the TBA

    *See page 5 for definition of „other‟ participants

     2 January 2009

    1. A brief introduction to the TBA and its courses

    The TBA is a non-governmental, not-for-profit organization working in partnership with institutions in Europe, Africa and Asia to build expertise in biodiversity research and conservation in the tropics.

Activities of the TBA

    Effective biodiversity conservation requires an informed, well-motivated and self-sustaining community of tropical ecologists. The Tropical Biology Association is working to meet this need through its field courses and support to tropical institutions. Its unique feature is bringing together biologists from host region (African or ASEAN) and European countries for relevant field training and institutional support. This approach is an effective means of exchanging ideas and forging links for future collaboration.

    The TBA ran its first courses in 1994 and has trained over 1200 biologists from more than 40 countries worldwide. Following their TBA courses, participants keep in touch through our newsletters and our alumni network.

The TBA courses

    TBA courses teach current concepts and techniques in tropical ecology and conservation to graduates or postgraduates at an early stage in their training. They are aimed at biologists wishing to pursue a career in research or conservation and who have little practical field experience. By selecting half the participants from the host region and half from Europe, the TBA provides a unique forum for sharing experiences and building international links between like-minded biologists.

    Lasting for one month the courses include over 60 hours of fieldwork, practicals and analysis and 100 hours of independent project work. The emphasis of TBA field courses is on building skills and understanding, rather than accumulating factual information. They cover a range of topics in plant and animal ecology, including natural resource management, conservation biology, experimental design and field techniques.

    The first week of the course introduces the flora and fauna of the field site during guided walks, identification workshops and field exercises. Evening lectures and seminars cover selected topics in tropical ecology, focusing on the expertise of the teaching staff present. Short excursions to nearby projects and different habitat types take place during the second week. The remainder of the course is devoted to independent research projects carried out mainly in pairs. Projects are written up in full and presented to the class as short research papers.

    Courses are intensive, but since you may not get an opportunity to learn about tropical ecology in such a unique setting again, we think we should make the most of the time you have available. On successful completion of a course, the TBA awards participants a certificate.

Teachers on TBA courses

    Teachers are selected from institutions throughout the world so that we are able to provide the variety and depth of teaching that no single university or NGO could match.

Typical course outline

    Each course timetable is unique and we will send you a more detailed timetable before the start of your course. Here is a typical course outline

Day Activity

1 Travel to field site

2 Orientation, introductions and equipment handout

    3-4 Identification workshops and guided walks. Seminar on tropical diversity and thinking of

    research questions. Lectures on ecology, biogeography and relevant local research


     3 January 2009

5-10 Field exercises and seminars on biodiversity assessment and management. Lectures on

    current issues in tropical ecology and research


14 Introduction to research projects

15 Project clinics

16-25 Independent research projects and evening lectures covering staff research interests and

    further topics in tropical ecology, biodiversity assessment and management.

26 Participant presentations of projects

27-28 Excursions and site visits. Return

Typical daily schedule

07:00 07:30 Breakfast

    07:30 12:30 Morning session

    13:00 -- 14:00 Lunch

    14:30 17:30 Afternoon session

    19:00 19:30 Evening meal

    19:45 21:00 Evening lecture or presentation, moth trapping, night walks, socialising

    IMPORTANT: The schedule is intensive and will operate 7 days a week; you will be expected to participate in all activities and, while we do try to include free time, work usually continues throughout Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays.

2. How do I register for the course?

Successful applicants must register for their course no later than 3 weeks prior to the course start date. The form is

    at the back of this guide (p.15). Please detach, complete and return them to us.

    African (including Malagasy) participants send your forms to the NAIROBI office. European, ASEAN and other* participants send your forms to the CAMBRIDGE office.

    * Please note that throughout this booklet ‘other’ refers to applicants from the Americas, Australia, New Zealand and other countries outside Europe, Africa (including Madagascar) and the Association of South-

    East Asian Nations (ASEAN) group.

Payment of deposit & course fees (European and other participants ONLY)

    ? You must send us a deposit of ?200 to secure your place on the course by 19th April. See page 12 for

    details about making a payment to the TBA.

    ? You must pay all your course fees at least three weeks before the course starts. See page 12 for details

    about payments.

Scholarships (All participants)

African and ASEAN participants - You will receive an award that covers either part or full cost of course fees,

    accommodation and travel to/from the field course; please note that African/Malagasy participants are not

    eligible for the Borneo course and ASEAN participants are not eligible for the East Africa & Madagascar

    courses. In addition, the TBA will also pay you an allowance for travel and incidentals to help you pay for travel

    to/from airport or bus stations and cover travel expenses such as visas & passports. In order for us to pay your

    travel & incidentals allowance you must complete Form 1 (p.13): Bank details. Please e-mail the completed form to the Nairobi office (African) or Cambridge office (ASEAN) as soon as possible (and not later than

    19th April).

     4 January 2009

European participants - All participants at European institutions are eligible for a British Ecological Society (BES)

    Scholarship to offset the cost of their course fees. The award is approximately ?200. To apply for a BES award

    please write a letter addressed to the TBA stating why you require help towards funding the course. If you are

    successful, the TBA will notify you and then deduct the award from your course fees. Please either post or e-mail thyour BES application letter to the TBA Office in Cambridge no later than 19 April.

Course liability release form (All participants)

It is very important that you send us this information before the course starts. Please fill in Form 2 (p.14) and thsend this to us as soon as possible (and no later than 19 April).

    Please also fill in Registration Form 3 (p.15) and send it to us as soon as possible (and no later than 3

    weeks before your course starts).

Summary of key dates:

    th19 April: Deadline for payment of deposit (European & other participants)

     and applications for BES scholarships. (European participants only)

     th19 April: Deadline for sending completed Bank Details Form (Form 1, p.13) to:

     TBA Nairobi Office (African participants only) or

     Cambridge (ASEAN participants only).

    th19 April: Deadline for sending completed liability release form (Form 2, p.14)

     to TBA (All participants)

     th19 April: African participants must provide a copy of their passport all

    relevant pages.

     In addition, West Africans to send 2 coloured passport photos.

Three weeks before the start of your course:

? All participants - Pre-course registration form (Form 3, p.15) returned to the


? European & other participants must make final payment of course fees

? European & other participants must send a copy of their insurance policy

    that clearly indicates repatriation to home country in the event of a

    medical emergency is covered.

     5 January 2009

3. What do I need to do to prepare for the course?


    ? Make sure you have a valid passport. If you don't have one, make sure you apply for one in plenty of

    time. You will automatically lose your offer if you have not sent us your passport details one month prior to

    the start date for your course.

    ? Your passport should be valid for at least six months after the date you arrive in the course country.

    All African Malagasy & ASEAN participants must send a copy of the information pages of their

    passports - pages with your picture, passport details (place of issue/ validity/passport number, etc)

    preferably by 19 April to the relevant TBA office. These copies will be copied to appropriate immigration

    offices at the course site for information.

    ? All West Africa participants must include (a) 2 coloured passport size photos and (b) details of their

    next of kin name, full address (including phone and/or fax), and relation. This information is needed to

    process referred visas to allow them attend the courses. Any additional information that may be needed will

    be communicated separately.

Getting a visa

Many of you will require visas for entry into the course countries. This information can be found in Course Guide

    Part 2, the separate course guide for your specific course.

    ? We strongly recommend that you check with the relevant embassy in your own

    country to find out whether you need a visa or not and how much it will cost.

Make sure that the visa is valid for the entire time you will be in the country. Start applying for your visa

    NOW as it can take a long time to receive one.

    At your port of entry, ensure you verbally inform the immigration officer of the length of time required in the country (even if you have filled in these dates on your entry form) to cover your entire stay.

    ? African applicants: if you have difficulties obtaining a visa please contact the Nairobi office as soon

    as possible. Anyone returning elsewhere (e.g. in foreign study country) rather than their home

    country will have to arrange their visa independent of TBA; TBA will not incur any costs associated

    with such arrangements.

    ? ASEAN applicants: if you have difficulties obtaining a visa please contact the Cambridge office as

    soon as possible. Anyone returning elsewhere (e.g. in foreign study country) rather than their home

    country will have to arrange their visa independent of TBA; TBA will not incur any costs associated

    with such arrangements.


    ? African & ASEAN participants Except for those travelling by road, we will arrange all flights; we will

    write to you about this.

    ? European & other participants you will have to arrange your own flights and insurance. Remember that

    you will need to arrive in the host country the day before the course begins and leave no earlier than

    the day after the course finishes. Booking flights early usually means you will get a cheaper flight.

    Please send us your flight details as soon as you know them. We will send details of anyone else travelling

    on the same flight so that you can travel out together.

    ? We will meet all flights at the airport see specific course guide (part 2) for more details.

     6 January 2009


    ? You will need pocket money for the courses (for drinks, postcards etc.). As a very rough guide, you will

    need 50 to 100 US dollars for the course duration but this will vary from person to person. It is a good idea

    to carry this money in cash. Anything more than that should be carried in travellers‟ cheques. Currencies

    accepted in the course countries include pounds sterling and US dollars (East Africa & Malaysia),

    Euros (Madagascar).

    ? Travellers’ Cheques Please note that during the course itself there are no facilities to change

    travellers’ cheques. You will need to change these before going to the field sites. Remember to

    bring the receipt, as some banks won’t change travellers’ cheques without it.

    ? Credit cards / Debit cards - DO NOT RELY ON CREDIT CARDS (Visa, MasterCard) or DEBIT CARDS

    (Maestro, Cirrus). Very few places accept them, even in the cities.

    ? The black market DO NOT CHANGE MONEY ON THE BLACK MARKET. It is illegal and you may be


    ? For specific information about changing money and costs in the country where your course is being held,

    please see Part 2 of the course guide. We can‟t give exchange rates as these change regularly; for the

    latest currency exchange rates, please visit the following website:

Health, medical and safety advice

Tropical Biology Association courses are physically demanding, involving some walking

    on difficult terrain and working in climatic extremes, especially in Madagascar. You

    should be in good health and must inform us of any existing health conditions or of any

    medication being taken (see Form 2 at the end of this guide).

    ? The TBA recommends that you consult your own doctor regarding inoculations and malaria

    prophylactics. It can take time to organise inoculations so don't leave it until the last minute!


The risk of getting malaria is high throughout East Africa, Madagascar and Malaysia

    ? Even if you live in an area where malaria is endemic and believe that you are resistant, malaria is likely to

    be of a different strain. Malaria is a serious disease and must be avoided at all costs. There is chloroquine-

    resistant malaria in many regions.

    ? The TBA recommends all participants take malaria prophylactics. Your doctor or a travel nurse will

    advise you on what you should take, how long you should take it for, and provide up to date information on

    malarial areas.

    ? Please take sensible anti-mosquito measures; where mosquito nets are provided, use them (if you don‟t

    get bitten, you can‟t catch malaria). In the evenings (when mosquitoes are most active), wear long trousers

    and long-sleeved shirts, and wear socks or douse your ankles with insect repellent.

Yellow fever

Requirements may vary dependent on where you are travelling from and thus are likely to differ for European and

    African participants; yellow fever is endemic in some countries and you must check the requirements very carefully in your own country. Hence, inoculation for yellow fever may be necessary. If you do not live in the

    country in which the course is being held, you may need to have this inoculation to enter, proof of which should

     7 January 2009

    be stamped on an International Vaccination Certificate for presentation at the airport (or your port of entry). Make sure you bring the certificate with you. Also, yellow fever inoculation must be taken 10 days before travel date.

We recommend you consult your doctor regarding this and other inoculations; the TBA cannot offer advice

    on these matters.


If you take medication regularly, don't rely on being able to obtain it abroad. Please make arrangements with your

    own doctor and bring enough to last you the entire duration of the course.

Medical kit

There is a TBA medical kit for minor health problems. However, you are recommended to bring a small kit of your

    own containing the following:

    Malaria prevention tablets

    Insect repellent

    Basic painkillers e.g., aspirin or paracetamol

    Plasters, sterile wipes, wound dressings etc.

    Antiseptic cream

    Cream for insect bites (very useful if you know mosquitoes like the taste of you)

What to bring with you

You do not need any specialist equipment, other than that recommended on our list below.


Please consider local cultural sensitivities when packing your clothes. People do not tend to wear revealing clothing,

    so choose shorts and T-shirts that will not offend. Camouflage wear is NOT considered acceptable; however, do

    remember that you will be more conspicuous to animals and birds in bright clothes (e.g. white, yellow, red & blue)

    and these may reduce your chance of seeing them before they see you!

    ? Walking boots essential for all courses. Bring waterproof boots with a good tread for Borneo, Uganda

    and Tanzania; trainers/casual shoes are not suitable for walking at these sites

    ? Lightweight, loose trousers (if you wear shorts in the forest and savanna, your legs may be scratched and


    ? Long-sleeved shirts (better protection for your arms when clambering through thick vegetation). Short

    sleeved shirts for short forest walks and around the field station.

    ? Waterproof clothing raincoat or poncho and trousers. It will almost certainly rain during your stay. Please

    come prepared to get wet in Uganda, Tanzania & Borneo! For Madagascar and Kenya participants, a

    raincoat is also recommended for occasional morning showers.

    ? Shorts

    ? T-shirts

    ? Trousers

    ? Warm sweater or jacket - essential for cold mornings and nights

    ? Socks (useful in the evening to keep the mosquitoes at bay and leeches for Borneo)

    ? Trainers/casual shoes (please don't walk around in bare feet)

Other items

    ? Towel

    ? Toothbrush (always use bottled/potable water for brushing teeth), soap, shampoo, etc.

    ? National or traditional dresses and outfits (optional) for social events

Equipment essential

? Small 'day bag'* for your note books, sandwiches, samples, etc. during field excursions and other trips.

     8 January 2009

Equipment recommended

? Water bottle

    ? Pen knife

    ? Roll of toilet paper for emergencies

    ? Torch or head torch plus spare bulbs and lots of spare batteries

    ? Note books and pen (for lecture notes TBA will provide small notebooks and pencils for field notes)

    ? Sun hat, sunglasses and sun cream.

    ? Compass

    ? Calculator

(TBA has a few torches and day packs to loan, but if you have your own, you should bring them)

    Equipment optional

    ? Mosquito net. This will be useful if you intend to travel around before or after the course and stay in budget

    accommodation where mosquito nets are not provided.

    ? Lightweight sleeping bag. Useful if you suffer from the cold (nights can be chilly). Also vital if you are

    going to camp while travelling round before/after the course

    ? Identification guides. The TBA has multiple bird guides, a few flower and animal guides and a tree guide.

    However, many people like to have their own copy

    ? Statistics book: although the TBA has some statistics text books in English, participants have found it

    useful to have a statistics book in their own language. The statistical software used during the course is


    ? Camera and binoculars - if you have a good pair of binoculars, bring them (7x40, are best in the forest). If

    you have a camera you can buy film duty free at airports, and bring plenty! You are advised to bring your

    own batteries. Remember to bring a camera case to protect from the elements in the field! (Many participants

    now bring digital cameras on courses; remember that there will not be facilities to download images

    while on the course so you should bring additional memory cards if planning to do lots of

    photography. As a courtesy to teaching staff, you are also requested to keep photography to a

    minimum during field exercises). ? A dictionary - if English is not your first language, a dictionary will be very useful for both writing your

    projects and general communications on the course.

    ? Treats - such as sweets and chocolate.

    ? Mobile phones you are welcome to bring a mobile phone with you but see course guides (Part 2) for

    details of coverage. It is, however, strict TBA policy that phones should not be used during timetabled


What the TBA provides

    ? Paper and pens but it would be helpful if you brought your own notebooks for lectures

    ? Compasses

    ? Binoculars - best to bring your own if you have them

    ? Computers these are only for use for course-related work and no personal items (e.g. CD roms, iPods,

    MP3 players, memory sticks, digital cameras) may be used on them

    ? Library of tropical biology text books, statistic books and research papers

Fundraising (for European and Other applicants only)

    The Tropical Biology Association courses are heavily subsidised. When you take into account the equipment, staff,

    overheads, vehicles, insurance, and so forth, the true cost of running a field course in the tropics is over ?2,500 per

    person. In this light, the basic course fee we are asking you to pay seems rather good value. However, it is a

    substantial sum of money for a student to raise, especially with the cost of an airfare and insurance to find as well.

    Previous TBA students have had varying degrees of success at raising money. The secret seems to be

    background research, perseverance, stamina, lots of letters and a bit of luck!

    Please contact the Course Co-ordinator at the Cambridge Office ( for useful

    advice on fundraising.

     9 January 2009

4. Life on a TBA course

What will life be like on a TBA course?

We hope you will be adaptable and fit in with the field station domestic arrangements. Living away from home in

    close proximity with new acquaintances for a whole month does require a little bit of compromise from everyone. A

    diverse array of nationalities means different cultures, beliefs and codes of conduct, which is all part of the learning

    experience on a TBA course. We ask our participants to respect these differences and consider moderating their

    behaviour if appropriate e.g. excessive drinking may be offensive to those who do not drink for religious reasons.

    We ask all participants to come on the course expecting differences and to try to be tolerant of them. Please

    respect local sensibilities regarding your clothing and behaviour and remember that the field station is a public

    facility. Common sense and a little thoughtfulness resolve most dilemmas, but some things are not so obvious;

    please ask a member of the TBA staff if in doubt.

What to expect on the course

The TBA course will be an intensive one with field practicals, seminars, lectures and independent project research

    and write-ups over the 4-week period. Clearly, we cannot teach you everything there is to know about tropical

    ecology in one month, but the course will provide a unique opportunity for you to learn new skills and concepts

    and/or expand your knowledge of a particular subject area. But how much you get out of the course, depends very

    much on how much effort you put into the course itself. Please do not come expecting just to be 'fed' information;

    this course will make you think and learn for yourself.


We will be eating fairly traditional food, which is generally very healthy (high in fibre, low in cholesterol), but like any

    institutional food, it may seem a little monotonous after a month, however delicious it is. At least half the meals will

    be vegetarian, such as beans (pulses) and rice. We are usually served one meat dish a day, sometimes less

    frequently, which tends to be stews made from chicken, lamb/mutton, beef or fish. Breakfasts will be white bread,

    eggs, and some fruit. Drinking water is also provided and available throughout the day. Please be aware that, while

    we are able to exercise influence over the catering arrangements at the field stations, we are less able to do the

    same during the brief excursions away from these sites.

Some people bring their favourite spread to liven up the bread at breakfast. Otherwise, you may wish to bring a few

    “treats” with you such as your favourite sweets or snacks for long days in the field.

Vegetarians and special dietary requirements

We can make special arrangements for vegetarians and some other special requirements please let the TBA

    office know these as soon as possible. It will not be possible to follow a strict vegan diet on a TBA course.

What you need to send to the TBA

Making a payment to the TBA (European & other participants only)

Payment of TBA course fees

The TBA requires payment in sterling pounds (?). Some banks will make out a sterling cheque

    for you that you can send to us (but please note that we can no longer accept Euro Cheques).

    Otherwise, it is easy to make a bank transfer see the details below. Unfortunately, our bank

    charges for this service and we therefore require you to pay an additional ?6 (bank

    transfers only) to cover this cost.

     10 January 2009

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