Conservation and Environment in Peru: Monthly Updates
TARICAYA RESEARCH CENTRE: September / October 2012
Once again it is time for the latest from the jungle and there is no shortage of amazing news and excitement from Taricaya. However, with the rains holding off still the forest is very dry for this time of year and I can only hope that this is not another repercussion of global climate change and that the heavens will open soon. A dry "rainy" season can cause many problems in the rainforest as almost all species of animal and plant have evolved to reproduce during this relative time of abundance. Lack of water or a late arrival of the rains can upset the very delicate ecosystem and have catastrophic consequences. Fingers crossed the rains come soon!
Nevertheless, we have been working hard and there is plenty to report. Our turtle eggs have started to hatch, both the tapirs and howler monkeys have been moved into their new enclosures, the second farm plot is prepared for the planting of new trees, our mist nest continue to throw up surprises and much more....
After a disappointing finish to our turtle project in 2011 we were more determined than ever to make this year successful. Newly designed artificial beaches, built with different materials, would surely improve our survival rates when the eggs finally started to hatch. We could not have done any more to ensure success in such a remote location! However, quiet confidence apart, it has been a tense wait hoping that the relocated nests have remained undamaged deep in the sand and that no ants, parasitic wasps or other undesirables insects had found their way in and devoured our precious treasure. Therefore I am extremely pleased to announce that we have had a great start to the hatching phase of our project and we have already released over 200 baby turtles back in the wild and have close to 600 more awaiting their codes for release. This represents our highest survival rate to date and with our last few nests due to hatch in the next 10 days I look forward to giving you the final figures next month. This success is a reflection of hundreds of hours of hard work building the beaches, carrying and sieving the sand, patrolling the beaches, carefully extracting and relocating the nests and constant monitoring of the beaches as we waited for the eggs to hatch. A big thank you to everyone who has been a part of this project in 2012!
Back at the rescue centre we have continued to work on the expansion and remodelling work. Working with cement, bricks and aluminium poles means that the work takes longer than with our traditional materials, wood! However, these cages will be more secure, easier to clean and maintain and long term a better solution for the environment as we will not have to change rotten wooden posts every few years. The cages are bigger, safer and specifically designed for certain types of animal (e.g. primates, small felines, parrots etc.) and I am extremely happy that we continue to progress despite the notable recognition of being the best rescue centre in the country. This really is a fantastic achievement as most other rescue centres are conveniently established in large towns or cities and so our dedication to continue to expand and improve in such an isolated location is a source of great pride. This month we have completely finished our new howler monkey (Alouatta seniculus) enclosure which is an impressive 300m2 with a height of 6 metres. This huge new enclosure is ideal for these monkeys which normally live high in the canopy and our resident troop of 7 individuals will have space to exercise and, perhaps more importantly, time to form their social hierarchy that will enable us to release them as a cohesive family unit greatly increasing their survival chances.
The second enclosure to be completely finished was the expansion of the tapir (Tapirus terrestris) enclosure. Our resident pair now has a huge second area to roam in and this extension will enable us to separate the male and female when the latter becomes a mother again. Isabella is very close to giving birth again and this new design will enable her to care for her new born calf in a large area and we will avoid any potential accidents by separating the clumsy male until the youngster is bigger and stronger. Fingers crossed for a healthy birth later this year.
I am always happy to report on successful releases back into the wild and last month we were able to return six animals to their natural habitat. It was the turn of two brown capuchin monkeys (Cebus apella), two white-fronted capuchins (Cebus albifrons), a saddleback tamarin monkey (Saguinus fusicollis weddelli) and a three-toed sloth (Bradypus variegatus). We were joined by officials from INRENA, the natural resources branch of the government, to coincide with our annual inspection. The whole day was a huge success and everybody involved with project loves seeing animals going back to where they belong.
However, we had only just finished cleaning out the now vacant cages when more animals were given to us. This time we were presented with two more spider monkeys (Ateles chamek), a white-lipped peccary (Tayassu pecari) and a beautiful crested owl (Lophostrix cristata). Many of you will recall our other magnificent striped owl which is now an occasional visitor to the lodge and I am confident that we can rehabilitate and train our new arrival the same way. The spider monkeys will join our fourth release group when bigger and stronger. These youngsters have a lot of growing still to do but with a good diet and plenty of exercise their future looks bright.
Elsewhere at Taricaya we have been preparing our recently acquired abandoned farm plot for planting new trees. Our long term goal of becoming self-sufficient in fruits for both human and animal consumption means that we must modify and expand what currently exists on our farm plots. To that end we have been busy preparing our new farm for the planting of trees to coincide with the start of the rainy season. We hope to establish some new species of tropical fruits that are expensive to buy and transport from town and plant extras of the staple diets for our resident animals (e.g. papaya, oranges etc.). We hope to eliminate the need to buy any foodstuffs for the rescue centre (with the exception of meat) within three years. Lots of work still to do!
Our biodiversity studies are a constant at Taricaya and even with so much going on elsewhere we still had time to open our mist nest for a few days. We caught some beautiful birds as always but the most breath taking was a handsome male blue-black grosbeak (Cyanocompsa cyanoides). We shall continue next month and head deep into the reserve before the rains arrive and make access more difficult!
These are just some of innovative and exciting projects that we have operating in the Taricaya reserve and next month I shall be keeping you updated on the latest from many of them....until then
2nd November 2012