Conservation and Environment in Peru: Monthly Updates
Monthly Update - September 2005
The time has come again to bring you up to date with the latest goings on at Taricaya and as usual there is so much to report it is hard to know where to start. September had several successes that saw us finish the first phase of the bird monitoring project; receive some new residents in the animal release program; continue to make improvements at the farm and observation walks gave us some truly amazing sightings.
I shall start with the bird monitoring project and the culmination of 3 months hard work was the final transect, located at one of the extremes of our reserve. I camped out for four days with the volunteers rotating their stays with me and the results were fantastic. Not only did we capture over 70 individuals in the course of the four days but some amazing species flew into the nets. The most spectacular was without a doubt a Yellow-ridged toucan (Ramphastos culminates) but several new species were added to the ever increasing list including the migratory Doble-collared Seedeater (Sporophila caerulescens) and the Red-crowned Ant-Tanager (Habia rubica). This was the last of the programmed six transects and now we wait for the coming rains and repeat the sites again to investigate seasonal variations and the influence of the rains on the diversity and abundance of species. The list of bird species in La Reserva Ecologica Taricaya is now well over 350 and the number just keeps increasing. I plan to place the nets strategically over the next few weeks in specific sites for one day at a time to target species that I know are present but that we have no official record of. This will be less onerous as the nets will be used a day at a time, not four, and we will not ring the birds as it does fit in with the official study method. We will start the repetition of the six transects in January so I will keep you informed of new species but there will be a break in this project for a couple of months.
In September a lot of time was dedicated to the animal release program and we had some new residents in the form of two more Blue-and-yellow Macaws (Ara ararauna), an Agami Heron (Agamia agami) and a young ocelot (Leopardus pardalis). Unfortunately the agami heron did not survive more than a week, it was a juvenile and whilst we force fed it fish it often vomited the food right back out. Thus it did not appear to get enough nourishment and this coupled with its poor condition on arrival meant that the bird deteriorated slowly and could not be saved. The ocelot is a much happier tale, after a quick release the cat has been spotted several times on the trail that connects the lodge to the pilot farm and appears to be flourishing. This is the second cat release into the reserve and joins the margay (Leopardus wiedii) from last year that was successfully released. On the subject of cats, we noticed that Preciosa, our resident jaguar, was becoming increasingly agitated by the presence of people around her cage. After a meeting with the volunteers we decided it may have been due to the fact that the cat felt threatened being below the level of the spectators. Thus one day we shut her in her sleeping quarters and built a second, elevated, platform from bamboo in her enclosure. The results were instantaneous as she immediately climbed on to her new platform and when people stopped by to observer her she could see them coming from a far and did not even come down and start her customary pacing. A great success and a personal relief as we need to keep Preciosa for a good while yet as she has still to grow.
The pilot farm continues to flourish and the newly installed goats have already produced eight young kids. The number of individuals is approaching the level where we can start to give animals to the locals as planned all along. The three donkeys at the farm are being trained on a daily basis by volunteers and will soon be ready for the trailers that we have designed for them. This labour-saving idea will be popular with the locals and both Fernando and I have high hopes for this particular project.
It seems that it has been a while since I have mentioned wildlife sightings around the reserve and this does not mean that there have not been some great sightings in previous months but September was exceptional. Over the last four weeks we have spotted huge groups of both white-lipped peccaries (Tayassu pecari) and collared peccaries (Tayassu tajacu), red-brocket dear (Mazama americana), armadillos, opossums, spider monkeys (Ateles belzebuth), red howler monkeys (Alouatta seniculus), coatis and, on a night walk, a magnificent jaguar (Panthera onca). All these great sightings means the hard work monitoring our reserve is paying off as the wildlife is feeling more secure and as a result of this new security has returned a previously disturbed area.
Over the last few weeks we have also captured a few different species of snake and whilst the rat snakes, Cleilia sp., are fairly common sightings I was thrilled that we caught this Red-tailed Boa constrictor (Boa constrictor occidentalis) behind the medicinal garden.
That wraps up September but you can see there is a lot happening at the moment and it is a very exciting time to be volunteering at the Taricaya lodge.
Taricaya Research Centre
03rd October 2005