Case Studies

  • Group Name:ZMN Education Group
    Peru 2017
  • Ages:17-18 years old
  • Group Size:6 students
  • Project:Conservation & Environment
  • Destination:Taricaya Ecological Reserve, Peru

Group Picture
Group Picture

In August of 2017, I and five other volunteers from Beijing, China travelled nearly 2000km over 3 days to reach Peru. Before arriving in the reserve, we rested in the beautiful ancient city of Cusco and observed the stunning buildings and diverse customs.

We then travelled to the Taricaya Ecological Reserve in the heart of the Amazon Rainforest, which welcomed us as their first Chinese friends.

Stuart, who gained a masters in biology from Oxford University, said: "If you build an ecological reserve here, whether it's protecting the rainforest or collecting scientific information first-hand, it will be of great significance." The reserve was finally completed in 2001. It was the first protected ecological area in Peru and was named the Taricaya Conservation Area. In 17 years, the reserve has collected the message of nature and maintained the tranquillity of the rainforest.

What we did

During our first week, we used very fine nets made of nylon wire to catch birds for data collection. The nets are observed to ensure that they do not injure the captured birds and also checked every 30 minutes after opening the net so as not to choke the birds or kill them due to sun exposure.

Using a variety of safe methods, the group take measurements of varies species of birds
Using a variety of safe methods, the group take measurements of varies species of birds

During first inspection of the bird net we found a swiftlet and two beautiful hummingbirds. We carefully untied the nets that weaved onto the bird’s feet and wings. We put the birds in cloth bags and brought them back to the camp. Then we identified the species according to their physical characteristics. After determining the type of bird, we began to collect the data on the various species. This included: wing length, skull size, feather exchange, body fat storage and pregnancy conditions. We caught a total of 21 birds belonging to 15 different species. Once we recorded the data and tagged them with foot rings, we released them back into the rainforest.

So far, 478* species of birds have been found here, and the species of birds here account for 5% of all birds in the world. Over the years, experts have used this capture method in ecology to record and study the population size and migration status of wild birds all over the world.

*Currently 503 as of June 2018

Aside from working with the birds we also got to chop up and prepare the fruits and vegetables for the animal feeding. We discovered that different animals have different responses to food. For example, a large herbivorous animal will continue its unhurried style and eat safely. Whereas some excited monkeys will catch the feeder's clothes and beg for more food.

The group spend the mornings collecting and cutting fruit for the animals to feed on
The group spend the mornings collecting and cutting fruit for the animals to feed on

There was also a wounded Andean bear called Cholita at the reserve that was rescued from the circus. Her teeth and claws were pulled out by the circus staff. The injuries were serious and the stress from these experiences caused her fur to fall out. We helped to treat her injuries alongside the veterinarian and then fed the bear.

In Cholita’s enclosure, the volunteers help to tidy up and make it cleaner for the bear
In Cholita’s enclosure, the volunteers help to tidy up and make it cleaner for the bear

Exploring the Rainforest

We boarded a canopy platform surrounded by fences and benches on both sides, giving a beautifully scenic viewing platform. We listened to the sound of birds and recorded the type and location of the birds according to their voices. We carefully observed the behaviour of the birds with a telescope, and then recorded the results in a special form. The most exciting discovery was two blue macaws that swept past us and flew on one side, calling and flying in a couple.

From atop South America’s highest canopy walkway, the group begin a bird identifying activity
From atop South America’s highest canopy walkway, the group begin a bird identifying activity

Dynamic Infrared Camera

In the 4,000-hectare protected area, there are two dynamic infrared camera placement points used to observe the animals that tend to stay away from humans. We changed the battery and memory card for the dynamic cameras. It was exciting to look at the image data of the memory card after returning to the camp. The frequent visitors in the shot were some porcupine pigs feeding in a clearing in front of a fallen tree.

The footage also showed a wild boar on the open ground and soon appeared the second, third and fourth. Stuart said that the wild boars are in groups and the groups can be as large as 20. Later a large cat emerged in the picture. At first we thought it was a jaguar, so we called Stuart over to identify it. Stuart said that it was a lynx, slightly smaller than the jaguar, but equally aggressive.

Stuart discussing how to set up and maintain the dynamic infrared cameras
Stuart discussing how to set up and maintain the dynamic infrared cameras

On Reflection

Every day there is a different experience, swimming in the muddy and cool Amazon River, looking at the clear starry sky and the clear Milky Way on the open sandy beach. I think this is a paradise that is isolated from the world. There are few people here. It is a sanctuary for the biodiversity of the rainforest and a garden for the collector of ecological data. Amazon Rainforest, goodbye.

- Zheng Niev

Before leaving, the group had some time to stop off in Cusco and visit Machu Picchu
Before leaving, the group had some time to stop off in Cusco and visit Machu Picchu

If you would like to learn more about our Conservation Project in Peru then please click here.

If you would like to learn more about our Conservation Projects then please click here.

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