Conservation and Environment in Peru: Monthly Updates
Monthly Update - April/May 2005
It is with great satisfaction that I am able to report two fantastic breakthroughs at the Taricaya Research Centre over the last eight weeks. Both represent the culmination of long and hard work by both volunteers and staff alike.
Firstly I am proud to announce that at a ceremony in Lima, attended by many government officials and Congressman, Fernando and I were presented the private reserve: La Reserva Ecologica Taricaya (yellow shading). As the maps indicate we have finally been allocated our 450 hectare reserve due east of Puerto Maldonado (O), in the section Gamitana, along the southern bank of the river Madre de Dios. The awarding of this private reserve represents the termination of nearly four years of dedication by volunteers in the collection of data from our programmed observations. Each and every one of the 322 volunteers that has visited Taricaya to date has had a part to play in this fantastic achievement and I wish to thank them all. However, this is not the end of the work as every year we now have to provide a report to the Peruvian government justifying our involvement in the area. An increase in the sightings of fauna in the area will indicate that we are having a positive effect within the reserve and that the wildlife has an increased confidence as their habitat is being successfully protected form hunters, wood extractors etc. Thus the first major step has been taken and current and future volunteers are now invaluable in our duty to manage the reserve in the best possible way.
The second piece of exciting news is the dam. After two years I am very pleased to report that the Taricaya Research Centre now has water constantly pumping up to the storage tanks 24 hours a day without the need to use the petrol generator. This is a great piece of news as we can now start planning strategies for generating electricity by connecting a dynamo to the water pump and both Fernando and I are confident that we can generate enough power for the needs of the centre and hence make the generator redundant during the dry season. This would be a great achievement as we would reduce pollution as the petrol generator would not be used for six months, and, perhaps more importantly, there are many communities in the area that possess their own streams or "quebradas". If we could implement our successful system in other locations then we would be able to help them with irrigation for their farms and light would become a possibility at night. In June we hope to investigate the possibility of electricity at Taricaya and the pumping of water to the farm project so watch this space!
Elsewhere at Taricaya we have been dedicating time to the animal release program and improving the living conditions for the birds and monkeys in the project. In June we will have successfully completed the new aviaries where all the different macaws, parrots and parakeets will have newer and larger cages where they can rediscover the ability to fly before being released back into the wild. This month we received four more Cobalt-winged parakeets (Brotogeris cyanoptera), another White-bellied parrot (Pionites leucogaster) and a first in the release program a Red-bellied macaw (Ara manilata). The monkey enclosure has also been remodeled and will be completed in June also.
At the farm project we continue to investigate various different projects at any given time and at the moment we are currently looking at the possibility of producing our own vinegar from bananas and even the possibility of producing wine from some of the natural palm fruits. The fish-eye chilis are producing very well and we have brought glass jars from Lima in an effort to try an increase their value by selling them in our vinegar in small jars. The idea is to increase their worth to the farmer. At the moment a kilo will fetch 3 soles in the market in Puerto Maldonado but we, at Taricaya, feel that by packaging the product in a more attractive manner than the farmer could receive up to three times as much profit. It may not seem a large amount by western standards but on a local scale if we can start a farmer producing a variety of different products then his dependency on one is reduced and he can start to become self-sufficient by mixing many different ideas together. Ideally we want to get the farmers in the area up and running on their farms with goats, chickens, mahogany, bananas for vinegar, chili, coffee, cocoa, bamboo etc.. Thus at any given time he is able to generate capital from any one of his products. It is not such a distant possibility because at the farm project we have produced a self-sufficient module and now we have to start implementing it within the local communities.
As you can see it is a very exciting time to be at Taricaya and things are looking very positive for the future. We, volunteers and staff, must keep the momentum going and continue to work hard on all that is happening at the centre.
Taricaya Research Centre
31st May 2005