Conservation and Environment in Peru: Monthly Updates
Monthly Update - August 2004
August at Taricaya saw us concentrating on two of our projects in particular as it was the right time of year to really get them moving. At the pilot farm the volunteers were kept very busy preparing the nursery beds for the planting of the mahogany seeds. The seeds needed a special bed of damp sawdust covered by a roof of netting to prevent excess light from destroying them (see right).
We used the local expertise of a forestry engineer by the name of Gustavo who came to Taricaya and taught us the correct method for planting the seeds. The process was much more complicated than I had imagined with a careful processing of the seeds before the actual planting.
Each seed needed to broken open in the right place and then carefully placed in the correct position on top of the sawdust before an additional layer was then placed on top. The photo on the far right shows how the seeds were painstakingly prepared and then laid out in neat rows. I was exceptionally pleased when after just a few days many started to germinate. By the end of the month we were witnessing a germination rate of well over 75%. I was led to believe that 50% was an average percentage so the higher figure was a just reward for all the hard work by both volunteers and staff alike.
The next stage also involves a lot of hard work as special beds need to be prepared for transferring the young saplings after a few weeks. The saplings will be given more space in this second phase and then after a further 16-20 weeks the final transplantation to the grassy areas where hopefully they will flourish and justify the careful studies we have performed with an idea to making the concept of mahogany plantations a viable economic possibility for the local farmers.
This month we were also kept very busy with the animal release program. We received a young female collared peccary (Tayassu tajacu) of 3 months and we are hopeful that with time she will bond with our young male and together they could provide us with our own pack of wild peccaries.
They are both roaming free around the centre and are often seen following groups along the trails and hence familiarising themselves with the area of the reserve. The parrots and macaws are all responding well to their new environment and the change of diet is evident as the previously dull plumage is starting to shine and slowly the clipped flight feathers are moulting to be replaced by new complete ones. The jaguar, Preciosa, is also very content in her new surroundings and again the more complete diet and space to exercise means that she is growing quickly and her glossy pelt indicates her current good health.
August has been a very busy month and plenty of work remains for September as the turtle eggs approach the time when they will start to hatch, the mahogany saplings need to be moved to their new beds, the trails and seasonal bridges will need to be evaluated before the start of the rains in November with any repairs to be completed before the swamps start to fill up again and the animal release program will keep us busy as usual.
Taricaya Research Centre
10th September 2004