Conservation and Environment in Peru: Monthly Updates
Monthly Update - June/July 2004
The work at Taricaya over the last couple of months has been to consolidate the major projects that have been so exciting during the first half of the year. The animal release program continues to flourish with the addition of two beautiful White-bellied Parrots (Pionites leucogaster), another young male White-fronted Capuchin (Cebus albifrons) (see right) and one of my personal favourites a female Night monkey (Aotus azarae) (see below). The night monkey as the name would suggest is the only true nocturnal monkey in the world and whilst not particularly rare their movements at night make regular sightings impossible. They tend to nest in palm trees and forest edges during the day as was this monkey when I found him around Lake Sandoval. We have also been working with the margay, Imba, (whose name derives from the Ese'ja words for "princess") whose release is planned for the start of August. She is being given more live food and we are in no doubt as to her hunting abilities as she almost managed to catch the young male howler monkey (through her cage netting!) as he was walking around the edge of her enclosure. The young monkey learned his lesson and has since kept well away.
June and July are two of the driest months in the Amazon and the river levels have dropped considerably revealing huge beaches in the river and hence we have begun preparations for the freshwater turtle recovery program. An artificial beach has been constructed at New Farm and the necessary documentation has been presented to Inrena so after many thwarted attempts we are now at last ready to do our part in saving these highly threatened Chelonians. The Taricayas (Podocnemis unifilis) are a food source for the locals both as eggs and the adult meat and finally we have the green light to go ahead with the rescue operation. We will work with our Ese'ja neighbour Enrique and go and collect the nests from the areas he knows, transfer them to the artificial beach and release the turtles when they are safely hatched.
The Pilot Farm project impresses me more with every month as we are starting to see some wonderful results. The coffee and cocoa (Theobroma cacao) saplings have grown very quickly and all the plants are very healthy. The mahogany plants (Swietenia macrophylla) see left are producing new leaves and the trunks are thickening quickly which gives me great encouragement with respect to the plantation project I have published out here in Peru with the idea of commercially farming mahogany to reduce the huge impact its extraction currently has on the already fragile ecosystem. We are eating many of our own crops including many herbs and spices, ajis, yucca (manioc), sweet potatoes, pineapples, avocados, limes and the occasional chicken or duck. These results are very encouraging, as we now know that a lot of these crops can be grown in the poor soil of the rainforest and produce enough for self-subsistence if not for commercial marketing. For example the yucca will stay healthy in the ground for several months and once harvested can be left to produce again the following year. This tuber can thus provide a large part of a staple diet and its regeneration annually makes its maintenance minimal. The market value is obviously low due to its viability but nonetheless it can substantially help the local farmers to put food on the table on a daily basis.
As always Taricaya continues to keep the volunteers busy and I am confident that August will see the initiation of the turtle project, the official declaration of our long-awaited reserve and the release of Imba back into the wild after her struggle in captivity. I am sure the news will all be positive and look forward eagerly to the developments in the coming months.
Taricaya Research Centre
05th August 2004