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

Friday, June 22, 2012

INTERN CORNER: Woolly Monkeys

As a GVI Amazon long-term Conservation Intern, the last 12 weeks of the program are spent on a work placement, using the knowledge learned at GVI Amazon base camp to assist Amazon communities in conservation-focused research and education programs.  Ive been working for five weeks now at Sumak Allpa, known to all of GVI-ers as “Hector’s Island”, as the project is run by Amazon conservationist Hector Vargas, a long-time GVI partner and friend, who lives on the island with his family.  Sumak Allpa is a non-profit foundation “working to preserve and support endangered indigenous peoples and their culture, language, and traditional way of life in the Ecuadorian Amazon region”; and is also “dedicated to restoring the environmental health of the seriously degraded jungle ecosystem and the wildlife that depend on it.” The work that I am doing is an exciting study on the behaviours of rescued and rehabilitating monkeys that have been released onto the island.
The aim of the study is to compare the behaviours of the rescued monkeys to known behaviours of wild monkeys to assess whether the protected island is a suitable location for such rehabilitations and then eventually whether the monkeys are ready to be released into the wild.

I have thus been getting up early each morning to find the troop and note what they are doing, eating and other behavioural details. This research is being carried out simultaneously with a plant mapping project that looks at the type of forest the monkeys seem to prefer, and why. All this is being done with a view to publishing a paper on the subject sometime in the near future, to be presented by Sumak Allpa at the annual Ecuadorian National Biology Conference, contributing to the body of knowledge of primate rehabilitation and behaviour in the Amazon.  

The troop is composed of seven monkeys (one male and six females) living in the wild within the confines of the island. They were each individually brought here as infants approximately five /six years ago. The dominant female was the first to be brought to the island sanctuary as a gift from the Waorani tribe with whom Hector lived for over a year. The dominant male was rescued by Hector when he was confiscated by the military at an airport!  They are only just reaching sexual maturity so any babies born now will be the first of a new generation to be born here on the island. It is therefore exciting to confirm that the dominant female is pregnant! This is an exciting and obviously promising natural behaviour. 

They didn’t have the best start in life but thanks to the work being done here these two lovely monkeys have a second chance at living freely and hopefully having lots more babies.

Reena Bhavsar, GVI Amazon Conservation Intern, Jan - June 2012