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

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Canoes, Culture & Clay Licks - Yasuni National Park

We spent the end of our GVI Amazon Expedition on a field trip to Yasuni National Park.

After a restful night in our jungle hammocks we had a tasty granola breakfast and watched the sunrise from canoes on the Napo River. The orange and purple and pink horizon reflected beautiful shades onto the calm waters of the Napo. The river also proved an excellent and much-appreciated swimming spot later on in the trip!

We spent most of our day at parrot clay licks. The clay provides an essential role in the birds’ diet, as it neutralizes toxins from seeds that they eat.

The first clay lick was spectacular, with hundreds of green little bodies fighting for a good spot on the wall! As the birds land, their wings expose an amazing flash of rainbow colour. We saw dusky-headed parakeets, yellow-crowned amazons, blue-headed parrots, and mealy amazons. We also spotted a red-tailed boa perched in a tree, waiting for a snack. Further down the river we saw a group of hoatzins, also known commonly as stinky turkeys.

We were then treated to a Waorani cultural presentation at the interpretation center in the park. There was a traditional dance, a presentation of traditional tools and food preparation, samples of traditional Waorani drinks, and a healing ritual by a Shaman (healer/medicine man) named Domingo.

To finish the day, we visited one last clay lick. At first, this new lick was less fruitful than the previous one, because a roadside hawk swooped down and scared away all of the birds. However, we stayed on, and our patient waiting paid off in the end, when a scarlet macaw perched right in front of us. It was the most fantastic bird I’ve ever seen, with glorious red, gold & blue plumage!

The whole weekend was amazing and I’m very grateful to GVI Amazon for bringing us to Yasuni. I’m also very thankful to Hector (GVI’s local Amazon guide) for opening our eyes to the amazing things the rainforest has to offer, and providing us with a wealth of cultural insight.

Kim Mercer – GVI Amazon volunteer, Feb-Mar 2011