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

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Tales from La Jungla

Mesdames et Messieurs! Open your eyes to the amazing tales of La Jungla de Yachana: a night trip in the woods.

It was a dark, dark night. The clouds were covering the moon and the soil was wet from three days of quasi continuous rain. Jas, Euan, Sam and myself were ready to complete our task: an Amphibian Visual Encounter Survey. We set off on access A and took a steady right in what seemed nothing more than untouched undergrowth. The untrained eye could not have distinguished the trail we were to follow. Jas lead the way, fast and steadily, stopping occasionally to wait for us, as we are still clumsy walkers on the forest floor. The mud and the slopes complicating every step we took, we did our best to get to the start of the transect line. It was 9pm when we got to the tagged tree. The plan was the following: Jas would be ahead giving the pace, Sam and Euan would be three meters behind Jas and three meters away from the transect line, sweeping the forest floor and understory with beams of light, looking for any movement, unusual color or texture, I would stand behind, looking, listening and writing down necessary data from our encounters.

We walked through the forest, laughs of bamboo rats echoing in the background, steadily scanning the leaf litter and undergrowth. Butterflies were sleeping under leaves and spiders were ready for supper. Mosquitoes hovering around us, we battled through Melastomataceae (a understory shrub common in the rainforest) and giant spiny ferns, lianas and ant covered trees. A poison dart frog, Amereega bilinguis, was spotted but jumped away in the night in a flash of bright red and blue. Two -thirds of the transect was done and the troops’ morale was going down: something had to happen, and it did. The fraction of a second it took Pristimantis kichwarum to jump from one rotten leaf to another was enough for Sam’s acute vision to detect it. That tiny and seemingly insignificant frog was there as a symbol of the importance and difficulty of surveying, a fragment of the beauty and complexity of Nature. This was The encounter of the night. The team marched on after having weighed and released the small creature. The Amphibian Visual Encounter Survey finished at 10.30pm. Jas, Euan, Sam and myself walked back to base camp, glad we had contributed to science and looking forwards to drinking our awaiting cup of tea and cooling down under a fresh shower.

Amelie Conty, GVI Amazon Long-term Conservation Intern, July – Dec 2011