We’ve had a very busy week with team 1 in the jungle. It’s gone so quickly and later today team 1 will leave. Here’s what happened over the last week.
After our Sunday/Monday training phase, on Tuesday (21 August) all teams went out to set up 8 camera traps at randomly choosen locations within the trail grid. The trail grid is our research area just behind the Amazon Research Centre (ARC), a 2 x 2 km representative area of the Tamshyacu Tahuayo Reserve including open and dense forest, palm swamps and higher ground that is usually not flooded during the rainy season. The area is surveyed from twenty trails cut every 100 metres through the forest. It’s a unique and amazing research tool in the Amazon.
Tine & Penny setting up a camera trap
On our survey walks we concentrated on spotting mammals such as monkeys, peccaries, coatis to name but a few. Known as a biodiversity hotspot, eleven different species of monkeys are known to be present in the area. It turned out to be a difficult task to find and identify them, though. Klaus and Felix were lucky enough to spot a coati twice. Teresa, Libby and Steve spotted an anteater sleeping high up in a tree with the help of Donaldo, one of the local guides. Tine spotted a single monkey taking a nap on a branch. Alarming her team mate, Penny must have suddenly interrupted his dreams so that he fell off his branch and ran away as fast as he could.
Larger groups of titi, capuchin and squirrel monkeys were seen by all of the groups, sometimes further away from the trails. We have all learned to walk very, very quietly during the transect surveys very, very early in the morning. After the first survey day on Tuesday, we shifted breakfast time to 5:30 and are leaving base at 6:00. The sun has been shining intensively, so that not only we, but also the forest animals become quiet and lazy during midday.
We have also done our canoe surveys up and down the Tahuayo river in the afternoon, coming across amazing bird life, but unfortunately no monkeys or other mammals. After dinner Alfredo also takes out a group of maximum three for a night walk in the forest. Bats have been seen as well a a tarantula, nocturnal frogs, leafcutter ants and many other smaller animals one would never spot during the day. Hopefully we will find more nocturnal felids on our camera traps.
Yesterday (Friday, 24 August) we did the last transect surveys and collected all camera traps on the way. It is a tiring job to walk the transects keeping ears and eyes open for 5 hours. Again, we left base at 6:00 in the morning to avoid walking in the midday heat. Temperatures slightly dropped after some light rainfalls, but were in the 30s again on Friday.
It was exciting to flick through the pictures of 8 SD cards. Funny faces, a jaguar named Libby and…. and a margay, a small felid. Other pictures showed fragments of other mammals identified by Alfredo as agouti. All this is a good result and Alfredo is pleased. Thank you team 1 – we couldn’t have done this without you.
Team 2, here’s an admin reminder. Assembly time is 9:00 on Sunday morning at the A&E office in Iquitos. A&E office staff will meet & greet you there and I will await everyone at the Tahuayo Lodge where we will have lunch before swapping to smaller boats and heading off for our research centre base. Please make sure you are on time; an A&E guide will be with you from Iquitos to the lodge.
Safe travels & see you on Sunday!