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, October 3, 2011

Yachana Lodge and the Rescued Otter

On Sunday, we took the much anticipated first canoe ride to Yachana eco-lodge and colegio! The lodge was beautiful, lined with heliconias and hibiscus, interspersed with hummingbirds, bats, parrots, butterflies and lizards. We were taken into the amazing dining area for lunch, which opened up to sweeping views of the Napo river and surrounding Amazon where we ate mouthwatering soups, chicken (the first meat in weeks!) and passion fruit slice – AND had ice cold banana and berry smoothies. Afterwards, while a group led off to the butterfly house (although the boys were more fascinated with the huge anole waiting for a meal on the outside!) and reserve viewpoint, we met Yachana’s newest resident, a baby female otter! Now, if you can imagine a squeaky toy, crossed with cuteness wrapped in duckling fluff – that is what she felt like. Rescued from upriver, we got to watch her attempt to swim (unsuccessfully!), learn to eat fish and conduct otter business – all under the loving care of the Yachana staff. Definitely the day's highlight! Later we were taken on a tour of Yachana’s colegio where up to 68 students (local and further afield) live and learn practical hospitality and agricultural skills like sustainable farming (growing banana’s, cacao, tomatoes and eventually, fish!) and animal husbandry – the school is unexpected - immense and open, and you really get a sense of the grassroots value such a facility must provide to the community.

Nicole Hansen, GVI Amazon Volunteer, Aug-Sept 2011

Note from the Staff:
We too get enamoured by the many baby rescue animals that we see get saved off the market. They are, scientifically speaking, squeeky-toy cute and it is indeed great to see them being cared after by able staff. However, these rescue animals are a recurring theme in many areas of the Amazon and they can serve to bring up an important issue. The majority of these animals are 'rescued' by being bought from illegal dealers. While it is great to get them off the market and into proper care, by buying them it can provide money, and reinforcement, for the illegal dealers to continue taking these animals from the wild and selling them to reserves or lodges.

So w e put the question to you: Is it better to buy these animals and take them off the market? Or better to not buy them at all and sacrifice a few animals for the (hopeful) betterment of future generations not being taken from the wild?

Let us know your opinion!

Phil Torres, Assistant Basecamp Manager, GVI Amazon


Lois Leigh-Ann said...

Ahh the last point has been bothering me for weeks! I was reading about a woman that bought an african grey parrot whilst working as a missionary in africa, and now wants to bring it home. But as the parrot was trapped illegally she has no permit so can't bring it home. She originally bought it to 'save it' from being sold and transported illegally anyway, but by buying it obviously increased demand for the birds. I don't think that buying things to save them 'helps' in any way, but ignoring the trade doesn't help either. the only real solution is to decrease demand and make illegal trapping less profitable, which really just make things more complicated!

icecoldjava said...

I am surprise to hear that the way you guys save the animals is by buying them off the market. From a simple, business, supply-and-demand stand point, I wouldn't think this is the way to stop these animals from being taken from their natural habitat. If the animals are being bought, at full price, then the conservationists are creating the demand for the capture of these animals. You guys are keeping the 'businessman' in business.

Anonymous said...

Dear icecoldjava,

I think you may not have seen the staff comment in it's entirety, as that is exactly the point we are trying to make: buying animals from the market increases demand and may then lead to the sale of more animals. As you can read in the article, this otter was not 'rescued' by GVI, it was brought to our partner organization, the Yachana Foundation, from upriver. However, we felt that meeting the otter was an excellent way to discuss the issues of the pet-trade and sale of wild animals (both alive and for meat) in the Amazon with a larger audience so that more people like yourself can be made aware. Thanks for your comment!