Monthly Update - September 2004
I am very excited that September has been such a highly productive time at the Taricaya Research Centre and morale is high at the lodge. It is hard to know where to begin so I shall start with updates relating to last months efforts.
Firstly, I shall update you on the mahogany project. In August we successfully germinated over 75% of our seeds and this unexpectedly high percentage meant that we had a lot of work ahead to complete the second phase where the young saplings are moved to specially prepared beds protected from the fierce tropical sun. At the pilot farm we prepared the earth for the plants, using picks and shovels to removed large clods and weeds that could compete with the saplings. Then, netting was strung over the beds to allow rain to pass but protecting the plants from direct sunlight. Each plant was then removed by hand from the germination beds and re-planted in the new nursery beds.
The work was hard and the heat was often over 40 degrees in the sun as the seasonal rains have yet to arrive but we successfully relocated over 5,000 plants and they are thriving well. So many plants had in fact germinated in August that I bought 3,000 plant bags in Cusco and we have given plants to many people and organisations so they can see for themselves that there is potential in cultivating mahogany. We have given plants to the local university, the Es'eja community of Palma Real and members of the community San Pablo across the river from us.
The ideal result will be that their plants flourish and next year they will be asking us to help them produce nurseries of their own.
The saplings will stay in the nursery beds for a further 3 or 4 months before their final relocation to the open areas where I hope they will prosper and justify the huge investment of time and hard work that the project has demanded of volunteers and staff alike.
In September we received an unusual addition to the animal release program. We were given a male adult coati that had lost its sight in captivity.
Normally adult coatis are aggressive and coupled with powerful jaws, large teeth and long claws are not to be underestimated (hence the coatis we have previously received were released before reaching full maturity). However his disability has made him very docile and we are encouraging him to walk on a leash with as chest harness so he can become familiar with the area. He will never go back to the wild but his standard of living with us will be much better and we are giving him doses of vitamin A with a remote hope that some of his vision will return.
Other work completed in September includes the final preparations of the turtle pool as October will see our first young "Taricayas" hatch from the eggs in our artificial beach and a personal boost for me is that finally the dam on which we have been working so hard finally appears to be coming to a successful conclusion.
The wheel and pump where placed in the water channel for testing and, whilst we shall not have time to install all the necessary tubing before the heavy rains arrive and the water level rises, the wheel was easily moved by the force of the water in the channel and next year we shall not need to use the generator during the dry season as I am convinced that not only will we have water 24 hours a day but that the force of the torrent will allow us to connect a dynamo and provide 24hr electricity also.
October will see the exciting progress of the turtle project, continual monitoring of the mahogany plants, the start of the heavy rains and I have heard that our application for the private reserve has finally passed through all the relevant authorities and that it will be signed and approved very soon.
Taricaya Research Centre
10th September 2004