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Conservation and Environment in Peru: Monthly Updates

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CONSERVATION IN PERU: TARICAYA RESEARCH CENTRE: MONTHLY UPDATE – NOVEMBER/DECEMBER 2015

It is hard to believe that it is the end of another year at Taricaya- 2015 has been a huge success with new initiatives, consolidation of existing projects and a twist of the unexpected. I must thank all the volunteers (nearly 200) who joined us this year as without their hard work none of Taricaya’s important work would be possible. Between volunteers and staff we have produced over 50,000 labour hours this year and with such a variety of projects each and every one was essential! Well done and thank you again!

Anniversary/Turtle Project

On 5th November Taricaya Research Centre celebrated its 14th anniversary and as has become tradition we headed off down river to our turtle island. The island is given to us every year by the government in a concession in our attempts to protect the endangered freshwater turtle Podocnemis unifilis. Every July/August we camp and patrol the beaches collecting nests and taking them to the safety of our artificial beaches at Taricaya. Now, at this time of year, we collect the hatchlings from the artificial beaches, mark them with the annual code and take them to be released. To date we have released close to 10,000 turtles back into the Madre de Dios river and the project itself is now 10 years old. Every year we see adult turtles with our markings sunning themselves near the banks of the river and it is extremely satisfying to see the results of such hard work.

Animal Rescue Centre

Being one of our largest projects at Taricaya it is understandable that the rescue centre occupies a lot of our time. It takes a great deal of organisation and work to keep all our residents well fed, healthy and, in most cases, prepare them for release. Once again 2015 saw us recognized as the best centre of its kind in Peru but, as is the Taricaya way, we have not just consolidated on our success but have expanded. After partnering with Animal Defenders International (ADI) earlier on this year Taricaya is now the first sanctuary of its kind in Peru for the magnificent and incredibly rare spectacled bear (Tremarctos ornatus).

Many of you will have followed the international story of Cholita and her journey from circus to Taricaya. In December she was joined by two more bears in their new enclosures at the rescue centre. In a huge operation combining the Peruvian government, ecological police, ADI and local municipalities we brought a 12 year old male, Lucho, and a 4 year old female, Sabina, across the Andes and to safety at Taricaya. Along with them came eight other animals all rescued from an illegal zoo in the Puno region of Peru.

These two bears whilst badly mistreated are magnificent specimens and in the case of the male, 130kg of claws and teeth! The two animals are currently in quarantine due to extended contact with humans and domestic animals but once given a clean bill of health they will move into spacious new enclosures with deep pools and shady caves. Our hope is to give the three bears a much greater quality of life and, in the case of Lucho and Sabina, breed them in captivity for future release. It would be a pioneering success to be able to release captive born bears back into the wild. At Taricaya we have already achieved this with our Peruvian spider monkeys (Ateles chamek) so we can draw on that experience with the bears.

Exciting times!

Biodiversity Research

It seems as though Taricaya is destined to become renowned as one of the world’s most bio-diverse hotspots. It is quite phenomenal that our 476 hectare patch of forest can house so many different animals, birds and plants. 2015 has seen us continue to band birds around the reserve and amazingly we have even captured individuals originally banded in 2004! Our observations from strategically placed platforms, visits from local specialists, sensor cameras and chance encounters have led to an increase in our species numbers.

To date we have recorded over 470 species of bird (nearly 5% of known species), 67 species of bat (nearly 6% of known species), 49 species of frog (over 1% of known species) and the list continues….Taricaya Reserve is but a infinitely small plot when one considers the land surface area of the planet but after 14 years of investigation we have a vastly disproportionate number of species. I am confident that 2016 will produce yet more surprises.


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As the rains start to fall in earnest we shall be spending time tending our young trees in the agroforestry project, clearing trails after the first heavy seasonal storms and continuing with all of our remaining projects. 2016 is full of promise as we continue to conserve the most diverse ecosystem on the planet. I hope you can join us!

Stuart Timson
Conservation Director
Projects Abroad
2nd January, 2016

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