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

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Why Did The Sloth Cross The Road?

Why did the sloth cross the road? Probably for the obvious answer, but that didn’t mean Jon and Karina weren’t flabbergasted to see it there. They had been meeting with Douglas, founder of the Yachana Foundation, and Isaac the forestry engineer in charge of implementing the reserve management plan, when they decided to go on a ride on the open-top tourist bus to discuss new plans to improve the reserve. After having dropped Douglas off at the port of Agua Santa to hitch a canoe ride back to Yachana Lodge across the other side of the Rio Napo, the bus turned around to take Jon, Karina and Isaac back to GVI Base Camp.

As they travelled back along the bumpy road, busy discussing all the interesting possibilities brought up in the meeting, the bus came to an abrupt halt. A little bewildered by the unsolicited stop, a quick glance ahead immediately revealed the reason. Wow. A three-toed sloth in the middle of the road! (Almost certainly (Bradypus variegatus), although annoyingly Karina had left her camera on base as she didn't think there would be anything worth taking a picture of - she couldn't have been more wrong!) In a blur of excitement they had descended from the roof of the bus and stood around the sloth looking on delightedly. The sloth, however, became shy and hunkered down refusing to continue. After a brief discussion about what should be done, Jon carefully picked it up and carried the now motionless creature towards the forest. As soon as they entered the shade of the canopy the animal lifted its head and started grasping for the trunks. Home!

So why was a sloth on the ground? Well sloths, by nature, don’t move around all that much, so in order to increase their chances of social interaction with other sloths they descend from the branches to communal latrines once a week, so this could be the reason. Or maybe not? Whatever the case both the three humans were lucky to have seen it and the sloth was fortunate not to have met an unfortunate and messy end.