May 19, 2013

Birding, Without Even Leaving the Lodges

For us that work at Rainforest Expeditions, there are at times days when we're too busy working to get the chance to step out into the marvelous forest around us. But that doesn't mean nature disappoints, it often does quite the opposite and surprises us with close encounters and fantastic photo opportunities.

Here are some of the birds that have come right up to us in recent days at Refugio Amazonas.

Golden Collared Toucanet
Fasciated Antshrike
Rufous Motmot
tambopata peru
Semi-Collared Puffbird

This is just the beginning, we also get many hummingbirds, oropendolas, tanagers, jays, macaws, parrots, and others that are call the lodge and its surroundings their home. So you can imagine: if this is what you see when you're at the lodge, just wait until you step into the forest.

May 16, 2013

Scarlet Macaw Genome Sequenced

One of the famous "chicos" stops by the lodge to check out breakfast.

This is very good news for the chicos and the hundreds of other wild macaws that we see flying around our lodges.

Sequencing the genome of the macaws opens the door for a whole range of conservation efforts that were previously difficult to do. For example, researchers can now do better estimates of genetic diversity within a population by collecting feathers that have fallen on the ground. Or, they can identify key genes that may be affecting the health of the birds, or making one population more unique and isolated than another.

Of course, our Tambopata Research Center was cited in the report, which you can read in full here.

"Scarlet macaw was selected for the first such sequencing of its type because Texas A&M researchers have been studying the bird for many years. Working primarily at the Tambopata Research Center in Peru, Texas A&M bird experts have been investigating macaw diseases, behavior and ecology"

One of the scarlet macaw chicks that the researchers are monitoring at
the Tambopata Research Center.

May 10, 2013

Exclusive Art Gallery Coming to Refugio Amazonas- Oscar Vilca


We at Rainforest Expeditions are pleased to announce the opening of our art gallery at the Refugio Amazonas Lodge. 

An Amazon Kingfisher, by Oscar Vilca.

Oscar Vilca, coming in June to Refugio Amazonas.
This gallery will include Peruvian artists inspired by the Amazon rainforest in our region, and all works on display will be for sale. For our first exhibit, we are excited to welcome Oscar Vilca.

Vilca is one of the premiere modern nature and science illustrators in Peru, and studied at the Faculty of Arts at the Pontifical Catholic University of Peru and Fine Arts. He is an artist committed to conservation and environmental disclosure.

The Oscar Vilca Gallery will open in late May and will exhibit original paintings, solely from Tambopata National Reserve. These will not only be on display, but also be available for sale at the Refugio Amazonas Lodge. The exhibition will be held in June, July and August. 

To visit Refugio Amazonas, see our website.

Starting in September, a group of three Peruvian artists involved in the Bahuaja Sonene Collective will be on display at Refugio. Intended to draw attention to the community and to protect the Bahuaja Sonene National Park, their motto is "Bahuaja Sonene: Know, Inspire."

The Bahuaja Sonene Collective, coming in September.
The Bahuaja Sonene Collective.
The Bahuaja Sonene Collective is currently inaugurating the work on June 1 in the Japanese Peruvian Center, then take the sample to Refugio September 1st where it will run until the end of the year. The 25 original paintings exhibited will be for sale.

May 09, 2013

In Photos- The White Lipped Peccary


The term 'ecosystem engineer' refers to an animal that significantly creates, modifies, and maintains the habitat it lives in. 

The beaver is an obvious example of this, as its dams actually create small ponds. But for anyone who has ever come across a herd of 200+ white lipped peccary in the Amazon and seen their aftermath, it's not hard to imagine these guys can do equally significant engineering.

peru tambopata
Image by Phil Torres
If you ask one of our local guides what peccaries eat, their typical answer is "everything." Peccary are known for loudly chomping on seeds, eating young shoots of plants, and even eating small vertebrates or invertebrates they come across.

But it's not just what they eat, it's how they eat. Using their noses as shovels, they can quickly dig 6" into the ground to get at some roots. And the four hundred hooves stomping the ground leaves a mashed-up earth in their wake.

Not to mention the incredible impact- studies have shown that the removal of peccaries from a forest results in 500% or more increase in the number of seeds on the ground for some palsm.

However 'destructive' these peccaries may seem, it's very important that it is natural- this is the way rainforests have been for thousands of years. These trees, especially palms, have evolved in a habitat in which their seeds get eaten, so if you remove the peccary you will likely get some significant impacts on seed survival, dispersal, and the future tree population of that forest decades down the road.

It's not just the trees they impact with their engineering, studies have shown their muddy wallows provide homes for many frog species, and they are the top prey of jaguars, too.

I have worked in rainforests in which peccaries have all been hunted out by humans. The forest is, simply, different. There seem to be less cleared areas, less muddy wallows, and a definite lack of that peccary smell that permeates some parts of these forests.

So, to celebrate these wild, loud, smelly, and important animals, I present these photos:
Peccaries use their noses as a shovel, digging up roots, tubers, and seeds, and
tearing up the earth while they do it. Image by Phil Torres.

peru tambopata amazon
Image by Phil Torres.

Image by Phil Torres

Image by Phil Torres

May 08, 2013

The Answers to the "All in One Afternoon" Wildlife

Congrats to Mary Bremner who guessed all of these animals right on our facebook post, very impressive!

1. Rufous Mot Mot
2. Orinoco Geese
3. Spectacled (White) Caiman
4. Capybara
5. Spider Monkey
6. Amazon Kingfisher
7. Great Black Hawk
8. Sand Colored Nighthawk

May 06, 2013

In One Afternoon, All Of This Wildlife

I've been working in the rainforests of Tambopata for almost a year now and I'm still continually impressed by the quantity of wildlife you can see over the course of several hours. Yesterday a bunch of tourists and I left Refugio Amazonas, took a 4.5 hour canoe ride upriver, and ended up in the Tambopata Research Center.

I had a 400mm camera at my side and decided to see if I could capture all of the wildlife we saw along the way. While I missed getting a good shot a few bird species we saw (like herons, egrets, storks) and a few other creatures, I still ended up with quite the collection of images.

Here are eight highlights, for you to identify in the comments below. I'll post the identities once we have someone who guessed all of the names of the animals correctly, either here or on the same image posted on our facebook.

Image by Phil Torres

May 05, 2013

Three Great Reasons To Visit Tambopata

Just this week we saw a record THREE jaguars on one boat ride on the Tambopata!  

During a photo tour we saw these awesome jaguars.  To not disappoint, the next day a big group of tourists saw two along the shore. This is a record for the area, while two have been seen on one trip more often, three have only been seen once before years ago. Check out the images below:
Photo by: Carsten Andersen

Photo by: Carsten Andersen

A male (top) and female jaguar (bottom) resting - Carsten Andersen

Photo by: Carsten Andersen
This jaguar was first spotted swimming across the river, and we got a great look at it as it  ran up on shore and into the forest - Photos by Jeff Cremer.  

45 minutes downriver, we saw this female interacting with the male, below, and they were likely getting ready to mate

Male jaguars are typically 10-20% larger than females, and this guy sure was big!

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