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Interviewing a Friend – Vera Michalski Hoffmann

You can find this interview in Letter N°9 [1] sent to the members of the Friends of the Tour du Valat.

 

 

 

Vera Michalski-Hoffmann has been the president of the Friends of the Tour du Valat Association since 2014. Like her father, she is committed to preserving the Camargue and wetlands in a more general way.

 

 

When did you first come to Tour du Valat and what was the occasion ?

At the age of 3 weeks with my parents who had settled at the Tour du Valat the year before

 

What was your first impression ?

It’s hard for me to remember, I was so young.

 

What is your best memory at the Tour du Valat ?

There are many : the nest of bee-eaters in the borders of the channels, horseback riding, wild boar escaping bushes, the song of the nightingale, the friendly human community between agricultural and scientific activities, Christmas Eves organized by my mother.

 

 

What was your best meeting at the Tour du Valat ?

Dimitri Lobus, a man born in a Belorussian village not far from the Polish border embarked by German troops and abandoned in the Camargue at the end of the war. Illiterate, he came to write his letters at home and took me fishing.

 

 

What emblematic species of the Camargue do you prefer ?

The Flamingo! Not a very original answer, but true nonetheless.

 

 

Why did you join the Association of Friends of the Tour du Valat ?

It is necessary to give a sounding board to the activities of the biological station in Camargue and elsewhere.

 

 

Do you have any advice or messages to pass on to future generations who will might visit Tour du Valat ?

Stay true to the founder’s ideal, preserving wetlands for all.

 

Interviewing a Friend – Vera Michalski Hoffmann

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You can find this interview in Letter N°9 [1] sent to the members of the Friends of the Tour du Valat.

 

 

Vera Michalski-Hoffmann has been the president of the Friends of the Tour du Valat Association since 2014. Like her father, she is committed to preserving the Camargue and wetlands in a more general way.

 

When did you first come to Tour du Valat and what was the occasion ?

At the age of 3 weeks with my parents who had settled at the Tour du Valat the year before

 

What was your first impression ?

It’s hard for me to remember, I was so young.

 

What is your best memory at the Tour du Valat ?

There are many : the nest of bee-eaters in the borders of the channels, horseback riding, wild boar escaping bushes, the song of the nightingale, the friendly human community between agricultural and scientific activities, Christmas Eves organized by my mother.

 

 

What was your best meeting at the Tour du Valat ?

Dimitri Lobus, a man born in a Belorussian village not far from the Polish border embarked by German troops and abandoned in the Camargue at the end of the war. Illiterate, he came to write his letters at home and took me fishing.

 

 

What emblematic species of the Camargue do you prefer ?

The Flamingo! Not a very original answer, but true nonetheless.

 

 

Why did you join the Association of Friends of the Tour du Valat ?

It is necessary to give a sounding board to the activities of the biological station in Camargue and elsewhere.

 

 

Do you have any advice or messages to pass on to future generations who will might visit Tour du Valat ?

Stay true to the founder’s ideal, preserving wetlands for all

Save the date, Open Day at the Tour du Valat

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Within the frame of World Wetlands Day, the Tour du Valat invite you to its open day on Sunday, February, 3rd. Seize this opportunity to discover exceptional landscapes of the wild nature of the Camargue.

Enjoy many activities, such as tours, workshops, conferences and screenings. Food trucks available onsite.

On this occasion, the friends of the Tour du Valat will unveil the “DuO” exhibition and the lucky winners of the contest.

How about starting 2019 with a New Year’s resolution that makes sense ?

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Then, join us now, and tell your friends about us !

The Friends of Tour du Valat is a privileged partner of the Tour du Valat, and aims at creating a community of Men and Women who share the same values ​​and who weave, throughout the world, the links of reconciliation between Man and Nature.

The association’s objectives are to bring together within the same network people and organizations sharing the sense of action of the Tour du Valat Foundation : to create conditions for ambitious exchange and sharing in the field of wetland conservation.

Joining the Friends of Tour du Valat will help us :

 

Being a Friend also means taking part in Tour du Valat’s work :

 

To become a member, click here [2]

Interviewing a Friend – Dilara Arslan

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You can find this interview in Letter N°7 [3] sent to the members of the Friends of the Tour du Valat.

Between 2012 and 2018, Dilara Arslan has studied amphibians and reptiles in Gediz Delta with the support of Tour du Valat Research Center, Doğa Derneği (Turkish NGO for the conservation of biodiversity) and Ege University. Besides her professional research activity, she is interested in bird watching as well as nature photography.

This year, The Friends of Tour du Valat Association gave her a scholarship to participate to the 4th Conference on Conservation Sciences in the Mediterranean

 

When did you first visit Tour du Valat and what was the occasion?

 

My first meeting with Tour du Valat was in Turkey in a meeting with Doğa Derneği in 2012. In that meeting, a Tour du Valat researcher visited Turkey to talk about Gediz Delta problems and to plan a research program for this Delta. At that time, I was in my 2nd year of university and I was 20 years old. During this meeting, everyone was talking  about the flora of Gediz Delta. I was the first one to defend the opinion that we should work on Gediz Delta’s herpetofauna. Back then, there was no research in this field and we did not know which species occurred in the Delta. My ideas and suggestions impressed and I started studying the Gediz Delta in collaboration with the Tour du Valat and Doğa Derneği.

 

 

What was your first impression?

 

 I was really impressed when I observed Tour du Valat have conducted so many conservation activities on Gediz Delta which is under pressure of urbanization in my country. These studies have been continued for a long time by Tour du Valat, which was a surprise for me. I am really happy to know of this collaboration between the Gediz and Camargue Deltas.

 

 

What is your best memory at Tour du Valat?

 

I did my first scientific herpetology field work with scientists from the Tour du Valat. That was a great moment in my life. We observed snakes, frogs, lizards. I learned lots of things about scientific methodology. Until that moment, I had never carried out herpetology field work in Turkey. But my biggest dream is to become a herpetologist researcher in Turkey. This field work is a first step to realize my dream.

 

 

What was your best experience at the Tour du Valat?

 

My best experience was when I caught and observed an European Pond Turtle (Emys orbicularis) in the Camargue Delta which was older than me.

 

 

What emblematic species of Camargue are your favourites?

 

 I think I will choose buffalos and white horses of the Camargue.

 

 

Why did you join the Friends of Tour du Valat Association?

 

The Tour du Valat is the most important research center in the study of wetland conservation in the Mediterranean. In addition, it works extensively with developing countries to conserve wetlands that are not in France. That’s why I join the Friends of the Tour du Valat. I define myself as a Turkish friend of Tour du Valat.

 

 

Do you have any advice or messages to pass on to future generations who will come spend some time at Tour du Valat?

 

I think Tour du Valat has an important mission on protecting Mediterranean wetlands. It has conducted very serious activity to protect the Camargue Delta. I can just say, if somebody is thinking of becoming a wetland ecologist, they should meet and collaborate with Tour du Valat team

DuO, the new photo competition !!

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You have two months from September 1st to send us your most beautiful photo with theme “Duo”.

The rules can be downloaded here [4].

You can also find it on the page “photo contest” of our section “our activities”.

.

 

Interviewing a friend – Christian Chéné

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You can find this interview in Letter N°5 [5] sent to the members of the Friends of the Tour du Valat.

Christian Chéné joined the Friends Association in early 2017. As an active retiree, he loves travelling and editing videos. He has naturally created his association Objets et Images which aims at intervening in associations and schools, for projections of videos or slideshows with debates on nature and travel.

 

 

 

When did you first visit Tour du Valat and what was the occasion?

It was over twenty years ago for an open house.

What was your first impression?

The surprise of discovering an important group of scientists working on the protection of wetlands, isolated in Camargue.

A pleasant welcome with smiling people looking “comfortable in their own skin”!

What is your best memory at Tour du Valat?

The discovery of the Saint Seren marshes.

What was your best encounter at the Tour du Valat?

There were several great encounters but the one that struck me the most was that of Alan Johnson with whom I felt immediately at ease. Because of his simplicity and the need he had to communicate his knowledge and his passion for birds.

What emblematic species of Camargue do you prefer?

I love the white stilt that I find of remarkable elegance and I appreciate the way it has to protect her chicks by acting as a wounded bird to ward off danger.

Why did you join the Friends of Tour du Valat Association?

Out of interest for the preservation of nature that is essential for future generations and in this association I can find people who share the same concerns as me.

Do you have any advice or messages to pass on to future generations who will come spend some time at Tour du Valat?

I do not have any particular advice to give them because those who want to spend some time at Tour du Valat are people necessarily in love with nature.

 

Interviewing a Friend – Marion Vittecoq

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You can find this interview in Letter N°6 [6] sent to the members of the Friends of the Tour du Valat.

 

 

Marion Vittecoq [7] is a researcher at Tour du Valat, studying pathogens’ dynamics at the interface between wildlife, livestock and human populations.

 

She has been a member of the Association’s Board since its inception and is the Assistant Secretary.

 

 

When did you first visit Tour du Valat and what was the occasion?

I came in the summer of 2009 to do an interview for a PhD. My friend Anne-Sophie Deville was driving me (without knowing she would join me the following year) and we were running very late. Despite my lack of punctuality I was accepted to work on avian flu. I spent three very exciting years and when the opportunity arose in 2014 to become part of the team for the longer term, I did not miss it.

 

What was your first impression?

I thought, “Great, we can do research on biodiversity while being surrounded by it and by passionate people! Where do I sign?” I immediately loved this setting. I was so motivated that, not having the driving licence, I proposed to my PhD director to do all my field work by bike! He was not convinced so I took the driving test as soon as possible and in the meantime I cycled from Arles during the first weeks.

 

What is your best memory at Tour du Valat?

There are many and I do not like ranking so I will mention one of the last ones. I was participating in an ibis ringing. We entered the marsh of Bomborinette. It was early morning, grazing light conditions and cobwebs glittered with dew in the reeds. Ibises, cormorants, egrets were passing above us… in the distance the bulls were quietly crossing, water up to their chest. I said to myself, as often, that I was lucky to be there.

 

What was your best encounter at the Tour du Valat?

Once again I do not like ranking. I would say that what I find rewarding is the mixture between, on the one hand, a team of passionate people, who have been here for a long time and have a lot to pass on, and on the other hand, the regular passage of many researchers, students, managers from the four corners of the world.

 

What emblematic species of Camargue do you prefer?

Are you done asking me to make choices! Alright, I will name a parasite, the great liver fluke, which spends its entire life in the bile ducts of cattle, coypus and sometimes humans. It is not specific to the Camargue, but it particularly likes it here because it loves wetlands. It can cause significant economic losses, especially in dairy herds, but in the Camargue it seems that although the great liver fluke is very abundant, there is no or very little impact on Camargue bulls. It is even possible that this parasite blocks the way for other parasites, but we must continue investigating to find out more.

 

Why did you join the Friends of Tour du Valat Association?

I joined the Association since its inception because I like sharing my passion for knowledge and being an advocate for biodiversity (which includes parasites, viruses, bacteria and other small unloved critters, yes, yes). The Association allows me to interact around these themes with a large number of people from various horizons.

 

Do you have any advice or messages to pass on to future generations who will come spend some time at Tour du Valat?

To future generations, is it that I already belong to the past? I have to accept it. When you’re here, unless you’re cloistered away in your office, you’re struck by the beauty and diversity of the Camargue environment and that’s as important if not better than anything you might have read about the importance of wetlands conservation before arriving here. We are also immersed, not only in our waders and their dubious smell in the hot hours, but also in a team very involved in this conservation. Even if you only come for a short stay, you are left struck with the beauty of the natural environment and the energy transmitted by all the people you meet. So I have only one recommendation to make: Come

2018 General Assembly

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On June 24, 2018, members of the Friends of Tour du Valat Association were welcomed from 12:00 to share a convivial meal under the plane trees before attending the General Assembly. More than 50 people participated in this day.

The General Assembly began at 14:45. The proceedings of the General Assembly were as follows:

o Approval of the President’s moral report;

o Approval of the activity report;

o Approval of the Treasurer’s financial report;

o Approval of the amendments to the Internal Regulations;

o Renewal of the members of the Board of Directors;

o Various questions.

The reports were approved as well as the amendments to the Internal Regulations.

The 6 outgoing Board members were re-elected: Stuart Gregory, Chantal Heurteaux, Thymio Papayannis, Hubert du Plessix, Marion Vittecoq and Nathalie Barré.

 

Marion Vittecoq, researcher at the Tour du Valat and member of the Board of Directors of the Friends of Tour du Valat Association then presented:

Conservation of biodiversity and control of infectious diseases: how to create more synergies