From our conservation holiday volunteering with jaguars, pumas, ocelots, primates and other species in the Peru Amazon jungle (http://www.biosphere-expeditions.org/amazonia)

Red uakari monkeys sighted!

We’re on our third survey day and the list of target species sightings is getting long. Most excitingly a troup of about 60 – 80 red uakari monkeys was sighted on Tuesday, the first survey day after the training sessions.

It was on the long hike to ‘terrra firme’, the study area’s high grounds that never get flooded, when Manuel, one of our local guides, heard the monkeys call from further away off the trail. While he stood his ground with team members Katie and Lansing, Fredrik equipped with a camera and a 600 mm lens was sent off to hunt for some pictures. This primate species is most elusive, they travel at impressive speed and have only been seen in the area once this year in March. Fredrik did an amazing job – see the picture he brought back for everyone to enjoy.

red uakari_IMG_1672

Not even fresh jaguar tracks found on the same day on the trail connecting the Tahuayo and Tangarana river made it top on the list that day. In total ten camera traps have been set in various locations throughout the study area to capture their presence…hopefully! Other species being recordedsare brown and white capuchin monkey, Squirrel, titi, saki and owl monkey, as well as moustached and saddleback tamarins.

Although the local people say that there is no dry season in the rainforest, it’s been very dry over the last week. Only the odd rain shower cooled down the temperature ever so slightly. We’re sweating and drinking water and sweating and drinking – not even at night temperatures does it drop below 25-30 degrees Celsius. One benefit of the dryness is that all trails are much easier to walk, the palm swamps easier to cross, and there are far fewer mosquitoes.

Continue reading “From our conservation holiday volunteering with jaguars, pumas, ocelots, primates and other species in the Peru Amazon jungle (http://www.biosphere-expeditions.org/amazonia)”

From our conservation holiday volunteering with jaguars, pumas, ocelots, primates and other species in the Peru Amazon jungle (http://www.biosphere-expeditions.org/amazonia)

Everyone arrived safely at the Amazon Research Center. After a speed boat ride of 2 1/2 hours from Iquitos, Alfredo, our scientists, and our scientific assistants Fredrik & Andy, and I welcomed the team at the Tahuayo Lodge and continued to the ARC after some brief introductions and having lunch. While I am writing this, Alfredo is delivering a presentation of the research’s target species such as jaguar, puma and more than a dozen different monkey species. It’s a lot of input on the first day after a comprehensive safety briefing to prepare everyone for the jungle research work. We’ll continue with training sessions on the research equipment and data sheets tomorrow morning, before we go out for our first training survey walk.

Continue reading “From our conservation holiday volunteering with jaguars, pumas, ocelots, primates and other species in the Peru Amazon jungle (http://www.biosphere-expeditions.org/amazonia)”

From our conservation holiday volunteering with jaguars, pumas, ocelots, primates and other species in the Peru Amazon jungle (http://www.biosphere-expeditions.org/amazonia)

 

Friday 07:30 in Iquitos: I am at the A&E Tours office waiting for the shops to open. I was told that today everything would be back to normal after two days of general strike. All shops & markets were closed, the streets left abandoned. Only the odd motocar passed by. It was around the Plaza des Armes where the crowd assembled demonstrating against a government decision. When the shops finally opened again, I had 90 minutes left before the boat left…

All other preparations have gone well so far. Fredrik Tegnér, a Swedish biologist who will be assisting Alfredo Dosantos, head scientist on this expedition, arrived in Iquitos on the same flight as I. Fredrik spent three months at the Amazon Research Centre last year studying the Peruvian poison frog. Now with his degree under his belt, he will join us to support Alfredo with data processing for the report. Together we have set up some of the research equipment: the GPSs now have updated maps and trails on them and the expedition computer is waiting for the team to feed it with data.

We will meet Alfredo later today at the ARC and will then start discussing the work plan, schedules, etc. – I’ll keep you updated.

Saturday: Fredrik & I arrived at the ARC yesterday in the late afternoon. Alfredo & I have worked out a work plan and I am looking forward to meeting team 1 tomorrow. If you have any problems with getting to the assembly point in time please contact the A&E Tours office in Iquitos, by either phone or e-mail. Safe travels and see you tomorrow.

Continue reading “From our conservation holiday volunteering with jaguars, pumas, ocelots, primates and other species in the Peru Amazon jungle (http://www.biosphere-expeditions.org/amazonia)”

From our conservation holiday volunteering with jaguars, pumas, ocelots, primates and other species in the Peru Amazon jungle (www.biosphere-expeditions.org/amazonia)

Welcome everyone, this is the first issue of this year’s Amazonia expedition diary. My name is Malika, I’m a senior member of the Biosphere Expeditions’ staff and I will be leading our Amazonia jaguar & primates project in the Peruvian Amazon again this year. My bags are packed, I’m ready to go… (almost ;)). If my flights are on time, I’ll be arriving in Iquitos on 1 Sep around noon after picking up some more equipment in Lima.

I have been in touch with Alfredo Dosantos, our Peruvian expedition scientist, who told me about massive spring flooding and renovation work at our base: the Amazon Research Centre. But before meeting him there, I will spend a few preparation days in Iquitos. Checking equipment, preparing paperwork and shopping for missing items will be on my agenda before diving into jungle life.

I won’t have a local phone number, but will be available on my German mobile (for emergency purposes only!) until I leave Iquitos on 4 Sep. After that you can e-mail the office (on this e-mail) and they will relay a message to me.

That’s it for now. I’ll be in touch again with some more detailed information once I have arrived on the ground.

So as we prepare at this end, please can you do some more preparation too. In addition to studying the dossier, have a look at the “Methods & equipment” playlist. The bits that are relevant to the expedition are our cell methodology (explained for another expedition, but the principle is exactly the same), GPS, compass & map, Garmin etrex 20, camera trapping, binoculars and machete use.

Enjoy and I’ll see you at base in due course!

Malika Fettak
Expedition leader

 

Continue reading “From our conservation holiday volunteering with jaguars, pumas, ocelots, primates and other species in the Peru Amazon jungle (www.biosphere-expeditions.org/amazonia)”

From our conservation holiday volunteering with jaguars, pumas, ocelots, primates and other species in the Peru Amazon jungle (http://www.biosphere-expeditions.org/peru).

Due to poor internet connection in Iquitos I am writing this year’s final diary entry from my desk in Germany. It was on Friday night when a special thank you & farewell surprise cake from the kitchen was served by Daniel. He kept his secret so let’s guess that many, many camu camu fruits were squeezed to create the impressively pink topping!

cake small

The Peru 2013 expedition officially came to an end in Iquitos on Saturday. While Conny & Thomas, Kathy & Stuart went out for a drink (…or two) and Sven relaxed at his posh hotel pool sipping pisco sour, your hard-working expedition leader went through final equipment checks, packing up and storing the boxes… 😉

Again, a big thank you goes to everyone for your contribution, enthusiasm and input in many ways. We’ve walked more than 100 km of transects, canoed up and down river every single day, set up and collected eight camera traps, some of them at pretty remote sites. We collected a great amount of valuable data not only from the camera trap pictures. All of this could not have been achieved without you. The data will be analysed in detail by Alfredo and we’ll let you know as soon as the full report is available. Special thanks also goes to the ARC staff & helpers that supported, guided and fed us so well at base.

I hope you’ve now all arrived back home safely or are enjoying your onward journeys. You’ve been great team members and mates – I hope you’ve enjoyed the time out in the jungle as much as I did.

Take care, stay in touch and I hope to see you again somewhere…

Best wishes

Malika

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Continue reading “From our conservation holiday volunteering with jaguars, pumas, ocelots, primates and other species in the Peru Amazon jungle (http://www.biosphere-expeditions.org/peru).”

From our conservation holiday volunteering with jaguars, pumas, ocelots, primates and other species in the Peru Amazon jungle (http://www.biosphere-expeditions.org/peru).

For those of you waiting impatiently for the results of the camera traps, they are now on https://biosphereexpeditions.wordpress.com/ (apologies for only getting this out now, but my internet connection was virtually non-existent until today).

Without much further ado, we found three pictures of a jaguar. The pictures were taken on the trail grid on Saturday morning, only a few hours after the SD card was exchanged. It was on Saturday morning when our friend walked by – I guess he enjoyed the silence while we were on our way downriver to the main lodge. The camera was located at I9 so close to the footprint found a day earlier at G10. Unfortunately the pictures are blury due to a fungus covering the camera’s lense. Thanks to Photoshop, the result is not too bad, don’t you think?

jaguar-2

Another thrilling result is a picture of a jaguarundi taken at terra firme. For the first time ever the presence of this speices has now been proved by a picture – you can imagine that Alfredo is very happy about it. His first conclusion is that the elusive cat possibly never comes down to the flooded areas.

jaguarundi-3 L

A great number of other mammals were also potographed: opossum, red brocket deer, agouti… more agoutis, armadillo, paca and yes – you guessed it – a yellow-crowned brush-tailed rat! Considering that the camera traps have only been out for nine nights our work including long walks beyond the trail grid has already been greatly rewarded.

Continue reading “From our conservation holiday volunteering with jaguars, pumas, ocelots, primates and other species in the Peru Amazon jungle (http://www.biosphere-expeditions.org/peru).”

From our conservation holiday volunteering with jaguars, pumas, ocelots, primates and other species in the Peru Amazon jungle (http://www.biosphere-expeditions.org/peru).

A day at base. Rain started again falling last night and did not stop, making it impossible to go out and do transect work on the trail grid.

Rain at base
Rain at base

Instead we used the time until lunch for more data entry: Kathy & Stuart volunteered to enter all transect sightings into the computer. Get a first impression of primate and other mammal encounters from the map below.

map1

Sven & Thomas diligently checked the medical kit, sorted out expired items and updated the kit list.

Thomas & Sven
Thomas & Sven

Pictures and videos were exchanged, equipment that won’t be used on the last full day tomorrow was checked and packed up. Details were discussed for picking up the camera traps from various locations. Luckily it cleared up after lunch, so that we were able to run the afternoon activities as usual.

Continue reading “From our conservation holiday volunteering with jaguars, pumas, ocelots, primates and other species in the Peru Amazon jungle (http://www.biosphere-expeditions.org/peru).”

From our conservation holiday volunteering with jaguars, pumas, ocelots, primates and other species in the Peru Amazon jungle (http://www.biosphere-expeditions.org/peru).

Question: What can you read from the picture below?

jaguar track

Can’t see anything? Have a guess: it’s a jaguar track. Grace & Gary took the picture on Friday at the trail grid and its identity was confirmed by our field assistant Roger. Amongst the camera trap pictures was another good find: a tyra carrying something in its mouth. We’re still not sure what it is.

tyra

On Saturday we said goodbye to team one  – no, not all of them … Conny, Sven & Thomas are staying on for another week.

team1 small
Team 1

Kathy & Stuart joined them on Sunday. While the experienced team members continued with survey walks, Kathy & Stuart were trained up and joined the work schedule on Tuesday.

Kathy & Stuart
Kathy & Stuart

Rain started to fall Saturday night and continued all night and into Sunday morning. Puddles in the forest grew to lakes, before cascading into the creeks that feed the Tahuayo river. Within a few hours, the main river’s water level had risen – at the moment we are about 1.5 – 2 meters above normal. This is good news for our canoe surveys. Silently paddling along the river edges, we glide past bushes and trees standing in the water. And as water ripples gently along the hull, we glimpse and record monkeys here, an ant eater there, a sloth, a multitude of birds, caimans and other forest life. Even pink river dolphins made their way upriver and were seen not far from base.

And as we return back to base as night settles over the jungle, we enjoy the daily review sessions – no team ever returns without an interesting story to tell, a tale of an exceptional sighting or an encounter made in the forest. And at last we truly understand why this is called a “biodiversity hotspot”.

Continue reading “From our conservation holiday volunteering with jaguars, pumas, ocelots, primates and other species in the Peru Amazon jungle (http://www.biosphere-expeditions.org/peru).”

From our conservation holiday volunteering with jaguars, pumas, ocelots, primates and other species in the Peru Amazon jungle (http://www.biosphere-expeditions.org/peru).

As I write this, all teams are out to do their last surveys of the week. Have a look at the picture to see most of them geared up ready to head out for this afternoon’s activity (Valerie, Veronique & Leanne are missing).

team _locals

They are in the field now to check and re-set the track traps because heavy rain poured down during our mid-day lunch break at base. A field biologist’s work is never done 😉

Titi and saki monkeys were spotted and recorded this week, as were large groups of saddleback and mustached tamarins and squirrel monkeys. Even night monkeys having their day’s rest in a tree hole curiously showed their delightful faces, attracted by the noise of a machete banging their tree. Thomas & Conny came across a large (non-poisonous) snake. Agouti, coati, tyra and a sloth were also recorded, just to name a few.

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Yesterday Alfredo took half of the group out for a night walk in the forest, the other half went for a night ride on the boat. What an experience!

We also decided to exchange the SD cards of the cameras set up within the trail grid today to get this this week’s results before the first team departs tomorrow. It’ll be busy again in the data entry area later tonight: data need to be entered and the camera trap pictures will be checked for results. I expect everyone to be crowded around the laptop when this happens 😉

data entry

Continue reading “From our conservation holiday volunteering with jaguars, pumas, ocelots, primates and other species in the Peru Amazon jungle (http://www.biosphere-expeditions.org/peru).”

Update from our working holiday volunteering with leopards, elephants and cheetahs in Namibia, Africa (http://www.biosphere-expeditions.org/namibia).

Tuesday we spent the morning setting up a new box trap. The whole team participated in the event – even Martina (pictured) our strict vegetarian who jumped right in and brought the bait meat. Vera was quite happy to get this box trap installed and activated because before the Biosphere team arrived it was too far for one person to drive each day to check the trap. A group split off with Vera in the afternoon and activated two more traps that were already set up.

Namibia martina with the meat

Wednesday the teams spent learning telemetry to track the elephant herd, re-activating the fourth box trap, building a hide at one of the water holes, and walking in the bush looking for tracks and scats. As all three activity groups left base camp in convoy in the afternoon, we happened upon a rhino group who were polite enough to yield the roadway to us. They could not quite make out what three vehicles were doing on their turf, and resorted to a defensive posture, back-end together. We left them to carry on doing their rhino thing.

Namibia defensive rhino

Continue reading “Update from our working holiday volunteering with leopards, elephants and cheetahs in Namibia, Africa (http://www.biosphere-expeditions.org/namibia).”