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, July 6, 2009

Introduction to Life in the Rainforest

During the past week, volunteers have been trained in all aspects of camp living, Emergency Response, TEFL and local ecology, including bird and amphibian calls, insect and butterfly identification and types of rainforest environments and vegetation. However, it is outside of the classroom where the real learning and fun begins. All have now begun to recognise birds by sight and call, and have also caught, identified and released their first frogs. Every day volunteers seem to gaze in disbelief at amazingly colourful and strange animals, including the resident Morpho butterfly, the size of a bread and butter plate and a vibrant royal blue and inquisitive hummingbirds.

Night walks are of particular note, where volunteers have got up close and personal with Tailless Whip Scorpions (Amblypigids) and huge millipedes smelling like marzipan (both harmless though comparable to something from a science fiction movie). Five snakes have been spotted of varying sizes and colours and they've even stumbled upon a Glass Frog, which possesses translucent skin through which its internal organs can be seen. Black-mantled Tamarins (Saguinus nigricollis) have been spotted and indeed, as Vicky would testify, after a shower with a palm-sized moth of some description, it's almost impossible to get away from the wildlife! That said all volunteers have been pleasantly surprised to find that the mosquitos are easily bearable without the use of the nasty DEET insect repellent!

The group has slipped into the daily rhythm of camp life, including gym workouts using makeshift rocks as dumb bells, making the most of the down time whilst relaxing in the numerous hammocks with priceless rainforest views, Matt's inconceivable stranglehold as "President" during card games and making balloon animals during TEFL training lessons. The washing is unfortunately endless, especially after losing wellies (or gumboots) and falling knee deep into the mud, however the bonus is the daily chance to mimic shampoo commercials whilst bathing in the nearby stream. Finally with 19 volunteers in the dormitories, each night is an experience, with on and off snorers, seemingly kamikaze insects, scurrying rats and, on the odd occasion, people awaking screaming in their sleep (to date Tom and Emily have been the most vocal!).

All in all, it's been a great start to the time in the Yachana Reserve on the GVI Amazon Expedition and if the coming four weeks continue anything like the past week there will be a lot more exciting news to report. Watch this space....