The End of an Era

After over 6 years of intensive research and community development work in and around the Yachana Reserve, GVI Amazon is coming to a close. We have finished our final research project (look forward to our Road Effects paper, coming soon!) and are handing over the project to our partner, The Yachana Foundation. They will continue to maintain and monitor the reserve, using it as an hands-on science education center for students -- we're very excited to see what fabulous things this next generation of scientists find! For more detail on GVI Amazon's closure, and our accomplishments over the years, please read on...
GVI Amazon Closure Statement

Monday, March 2, 2009

The Yasuni Clay Licks

After a 3 hour canoe ride from Coca, on a very low Napo River (that resulted in the canoe getting stuck on the bottom a couple of times and having a few of the group in the water to push it out of the silt), the group arrived at Yasuni National Park and set up camp, with a local family, pitching tents and hanging hammocks. They all attempted to get some sleep despite the rousing chorus from the hundreds of frogs surrounding them.
After a restless night’s sleep from being chomped on by sand flies revelling in new blood, the EMs had an early start to head out into the Yasuni Park and to the first of two clay licks that were to be visited that day.

The clay licks are patches of clay where many parrots, parakeets and macaws visit daily to feed upon in order to break down toxins that accumulate in their bodies through their diet of different seeds. There was certainly a lot of action that morning. A bit of patience was needed initially, as the parrots cautiously come closer and closer to the licks and take their time in plucking up the courage to land on the clay and start tucking in. They are wary of potential predators who might take an opportunity to strike while they are feasting on the clay. The first lick was thriving with Mealy Amazon Parrots (Amazona farinosa), Yellow-crowned Parakeets (Cyanoramphus auriceps) and Blue-headed Parrots (Pionus menstruus). Before arriving at the second clay lick the group spotted some Hoatzin (Opisthocomus hoazin) on the river’s edge, followed later by a couple of roosting, sleeping Crested Owls (Lophostrix cristata). The second clay lick was another busy spot, teaming with Scarlet-shouldered Parrotlets (Touit huetii), Cobalt-winged Parakeets (Brotogeris cyanoptera) an Orange-cheeked Parrot (Pyrilia barrabandi) thrown in the mix and topping off the whole amazing experience, a Scarlet Macaw (Ara macao). A veritable squawking frenzy!