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Update from the Taricaya Research Centre

Stuart Timson, Director of our incredible Peruvian Conservation Project gives us the news from the Amazon Rainforest:

Chestnut fronted macaw

The heavy rains promised by the storms earlier in January never materialized and so this wet season has been relatively dry thus enabling us to work without delays over the last couple of months. With the lodge filling up to near capacity and the willingness of the volunteers to get stuck in I have been able to advance much quicker than planned. A lot has been accomplished in little time and I will try and do justice to all the hard work and the latest advances at Taricaya.

Let’s start with the ongoing improvements in the animal release program and needless to say there are new residents in the project whilst old friends have been released back into the wild.

Clown tree frog

Our nursery is starting to fill up and there were three new arrivals over the last few weeks. A first at Taricaya was an infant common squirrel monkey, whose continual chattering is now a familiar sound around the centre. Later the same week we also received another young paca and a dusky-headed parakeet chick. The nursery seems much more vibrant with the new additions and the place has also been brightened up by the artistic talents of some of our volunteers who painted numerous animals on the walls creating a much more colorful environment. Plans for April include new cages for the growing macaw populations as just two weeks ago we received two more chestnut-fronted macaws and a scarlet macaw.

Just as we received new guests last month we also released some old ones. Bianca the young paca was growing at a phenomenal rate and was quickly outgrowing her cage in the nursery. Pacas are naturally very independent animals so we decided to release her just in front of the lodge. Being nocturnal by nature she is now happily running around at night often startling volunteers on their way back from the dining room. She is continuing to grow and appears to be thriving with her new freedom.

Red tailed boa head shot

Moving on I feel that several sightings around the reserve are worthy of a mention not only for the amazing experiences they provided for the volunteers but also as indicators of a healthy ecosystem and reflecting our good work in the reserve. Anaconda Colpa had not been visited for a while and the first few groups to use it this year had some great sightings including a red-brocket deer, a tayra and two grisons. The last two species belong to the weasel family, Mustelidae, and the grison is an animal that we have only ever seen once before around the reserve. Last week a group of visiting tourists got a wonderful surprise when they reached the top canopy platform to see a margay standing in the kapok tree. This small arboreal cat is rarely seen as it is generally nocturnal but I am confident that this individual was the one that we released in 2004 about 600m from the canopy. Whether it is the same or not it is a wonderful sighting, one of the best at the canopy so far.

Spotted thighed treefrog

The farm project continues to flourish and in March we concentrated on our Heliconia project. We are already producing large quantities of flowers from our original plants but this month we were given a collection of many different species to grow and hopefully make nurseries should the flowers find a market. This meant that volunteers were clearing and planting a lot of the time and we now have several plots with neat rows of the different species. We now have to wait for the plants to react after the transfer from Puerto Maldonado and hope that the new species produce flowers with a good market value. Elsewhere at the farm the donkeys are recovering well from a stomach parasite and the volunteers are training them by riding them around some of the trails. One female is pregnant so she just follows along behind without a rider. The idea is to increase their stamina to enable them to work when fully recuperated.

As you can see a lot has been accomplished already this year and with a lodge full of industrious volunteers I expect to keep the work rate up over the coming months. It is an exciting time to be involved and there is plenty of work for everyone!!

Stuart Timson,
Conservation Manager
Reserva Ecologica Taricaya
3rd April 2006

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