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Update from the rainforest by jungle lodge manager Stuart Timson

Reddish Hermit

The month of July has flown by incredibly fast as both staff and volunteers alike have been busy. I am pleased to report that the bird monitoring project is continuing to produce some fascinating finds. I take the volunteers out to the mist nets where we spend the day checking for captures; identifying new species and tagging all the individuals. In twelve full research days we have now captured 146 individuals with over 50 species many of which are new to the reserve. Last week we moved our transects to the furthest extreme of the reserve. This area has many different forest types and one of the mist nets happened to pass a through an area of forest dominated by bamboo plants. This transect alone provided several new species including the rare Rufous-headed Woodpecker, Goeldi’s Antbird and the Reddish Hermit

Radio-tagged Silky Anteater

Elsewhere we have received some new animals for the release program. A young Brown-throated three-toed sloth was brought to us and was quickly released. Sloths are not uncommon in the wild but their lethargic nature and habitat high in the upper canopy make sightings uncommon but I am sure that it will be safe and when the time comes will have no problem in finding a mate. Perhaps the most exciting new addition was a pygmy (also known as silky) anteater. These tiny members of the anteater family are seldom seen in the wild being both nocturnal and reclusive by nature. However, this individual was very healthy and gave us a perfect opportunity to try out some new tracking equipment, donated by an ex-volunteer.

We attached the radio transmitter to the animal and Rufous-headed Woodpecker released it. The next day we tried to track the animal using our receiver and it was with great pleasure that we received a strong signal as soon as we left the camp. It was not long before the signal continued to become stronger until we narrowed the transmitter to just one tree. Here is where reality struck home because the animal was nowhere to be seen. It turned out that the transmitter had become loose and fallen to the ground at the base of said tree and the anteater was long gone. Whilst it was disappointing at first it was very satisfying to know that the signal can be picked up through all the dense vegetation and so we will be able to try the equipment on other species maybe with larger territories.

The pilot farm is thriving with its new irrigation system and I am pleased to report that we have increased our Goeldi's Antbird number of goats and donkeys. In July Fernando and I took a trip from Cusco to a local market called Combapata. This fair occurs every Sunday and we set off at 4.30am to get there early and hopefully get to choose from the best animals on sale. The trip was a resounding success and we have now nearly forty goats (we bought 17 more), three donkeys and guinea pigs safely installed at the Farm. This means that next year we will be in a position to start offering livestock to the local farmers in a system whereby we would give them 50 goats and 50 guinea pigs. These animals would reproduce very quickly and within a year the farmer will have close to 150 of each type. He then returns the original fifty to us and we give them to someone else. This system will be very successful because the farmer will prepare his land in return for the gift of the animals. With so many goats and guinea pigs he will not need to hunt and will have meat, cheese and milk to sell. This means he will spend less time in the forest and will have no need to perform illegal activities such as hunting and wood extraction. I hope that the animals acclimatise quickly and we can get the project up and running as soon as possible. Our first goats bought two years ago have reproduced several times and so I am optimistic that the project will have a very positive impact for the local communities in the area.

August sees the turtle project back in action and this year we have an official permit to collect 80 nests which will give us close to 2000 young turtles should hatching rates be high. The artificial beach was prepared in July and so we are all set for one of our most exciting projects.

Stuart Timson
La Reserva Ecologica Taricaya

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