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Monthly Update - November/December 2004
It is hard to believe that 2004 has come to an end because the year has just flown by. This time last year at Taricaya the canopy walkway was still a distant dream; the mahogany project was generally viewed as a folly, unaccepted by the majority, and the animal release program was still in its infancy. How quickly things have advanced over the last twelve months. We have successfully hatched our first turtle eggs, over 6,000 thousand mahogany saplings germinated, the canopy walkway was successfully opened in February and we have released many animals into our reserve.
As 2004 progressed it was with great pleasure that I watched so many of these projects finally come to fruition. It was the hard work of volunteers and staff alike over the previous years, and of course this year, that made these successes possible and it is hard to know where to begin so I will try and summarise the best I can.
One of my personal favourites is the animal release program. I often find it very distressing when we receive some of the animals as they are so badly mistreated and in such poor health but seeing them recover with a better diet and health care is so very rewarding. Before this year we had successfully released a wide variety of animals including monkeys, anteaters, parrots, peccaries and many more but in 2004 we dedicated more time and money to the project and excitingly received our first cats. Imba, a beautiful margay, was released near one of our mammal colpas earlier in the year and is happily roaming our reserve and Preciosa, the jaguar, is still with us as we teach her to hunt and watch as her health improves. She was very badly mistreated and her now shiny pelt is a sure sign that her recovery is nearly complete and next year we must search for a suitable area in which to release her.
In 2004 we also received two species of peccary (wild pigs), coatis (S. American raccoons), four species of monkey, three species of macaw, several types of parrot, paca (a large rodent), tapitis (wild rabbits), tayra (large member of the weasel family) and a Brazilian Tapir. Unfortunately not all the animals survive as was the case with Rosa , the tapir, and the baby tayra. Sometimes when they reach us they are beyond help but the successful releases always make the project and the effort worthwhile.
In previous reports I have spent a long time explaining the ongoing progress of the mahogany project so I shall not repeat more of the same but simply report that next year we shall start to transplant the saplings and we will enter the third and final phase of the project monitoring which conditions best favour the newly planted trees and continuing to measure survival rates of the plants.
The turtle project (see October's report) was another personal favourite of mine as it was one of the first projects we designed at Taricaya. Next year we will have the full support of the government organisation, Inrena , and hope to improve the project further still. We will build a new artificial beach and will involve more of the locals in the collection of the eggs thus reducing the problem of poaching and illegal extraction.
It seems that I am always commenting on the progress of our official reserve and looking back over the last 18 months it has really been a battle to get the government to process the application. The tedious and often excessive paperwork often drove me to distraction but I am pleased to report that we are now in the final stage of our application and when I present the technical report that the government has requested we should finally be awarded the 480 hectares of the Reserva Ecologica Taricaya . The reserve is a culmination of the work of every volunteer we have received at Taricaya because the data collected from the observation walks, platforms, canoe observations and canopy walkway has made the reserve possible. This year we built a new platform at New Farm and of course the canopy platform, 50m above the ground.
Apart from the larger projects 2004 has seen the development and remodelling of the medicinal plant garden, the successful completion of the dam ready for 2005, the construction of a large pool for the caiman project, new cages for the animal release program, the purchase of two new canoes for the centre and various projects at New Farm including crop and livestock management; nurseries for bamboo, palms and ironwood and the successful cultivation of crops thought to be unsuited to the area and climate.
All that remains is for me to wish you all a happy and prosperous New Year and thank all the volunteers and staff alike for the hard work that made 2004 so successful. To those of you who are future volunteers let's make 2005 even better still!!!
Taricaya Research Centre
30th December 2004