October 2014

Hello, from the colonia 24 de mayo, here in the Amazonas area of Pastaza, Ecuador…………………

First off……..an admission! The widespread grass common in Ecuador as forage for cattle and other domesticated animals and covering a decreasing area of the Fundacion’s land ( we are eradicating it as we go along) is not, in fact, ‘African’. It is Imperial Grass (Axonopus scoparius) and is native to much of South America. (Clayton, W.D., Vorontsova, M.S., Harman, K.T. and Williamson, H. (2006 onwards). GrassBase – The Online World Grass Flora.http://www.kew.org/data/grasses-db.html. )

Thanks to Laurence, our very knowledgeable and helpful friend, colleague and neighbour for this information, and apologies for the previous misinformation!

There has been some amazing thunder and lightning storms lately – the most recent of which washed away part of the roadway (yet again!)  along which we access the Fundacion’s land.  As a result we were blocked in (and others out!) for about 24 hours. There is talk of road improvements being made (asphalting!) by the local municipal council of Mera. This would likely have the impact of more traffic (and trafficking!) on the nearby road and more people moving into the area. However, we are currently in the situation that the access road is continually degrading making it difficult for us to travel in and out of the land, and the local taxistas (taxi drivers) are increasingly raising their prices for carrying as the roadway is damaging their vehicles. It is currently costing us $10.00-15.00 dollars each way for a distance of 16 kilometres (whereas a trip to Quito from Puyo, by bus, costs $5.00 – a distance of 225 kilometres)!

A lot of visitors this month, and very helpful volunteers around, too – thanks OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
Molly, Pete, Rich. A lot of clearing work has continued, and the side of the pathways filled with more fallen orchids and bromeliads from the roadside. In addition, more trees
have been planted up with the self-same fallen examples, and some of our previously placed are now flowering beautifully – albeit briefly as some flowers bloom for a matter of hours. A pathway has been cleared (yet again!) to the river at the foot of the hill – it grows over so fast……………..and more endemic seeds planted, and transplanting………

As the water has been low in the stream lately, it has also been an opportunity to clear out some of the silt and fallen leaves in the dam.

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Last week, Antonia Zieger from Berlin’s Technical University carried out some research work on the land for her master’s degree research project – “The Stabilisation Mechanisms of Carbon in Ecuadorian Soil”. Her scientific investigation with Josue Tenorio (Ecuadorian agronomy technician) is being carried out in collaboration with Omar Tello, a member of the Fundacion’s management committee and the director of Jardin Botanico Las Orquideas http://www.jardinbotanicolasorquideas.com/ .

The group (a group?) of Tamarin Monkeys were spotted again last week, crossing the roadway in front of us as we came close to the land. There were at least five members of the troop.

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On a recent night walk to Prawn World, at the side of the small stream, a common cat-eyed snake was seen catching a large toad. It was a unique opportunity to watch it in action like this, as it eventually dragged off the toad which was several times the size of the snake’s head….amazing!

Some very, very sad news……………..our friend and colleague, Juan Carlos Gualinga, from the Kichwa community Kawsak Sacha, with whom we have been having introductory talks about joint working and future potential projects, was one amongst five people who were killed in a recent small plane crash at the beginning of October in the Amazon of Ecuador. There were two survivors, a father and young daughter, who are still recovering. The plane crashed shortly after take-off due to engine failure, I believe. Very sad news indeed!

In Kawsak Sacha, there are six ancestral towns involved in close community working to conserve their 200,000 hectares of territory close to Yasuni National Park and to Peru. They have released 28000 turtles that they have reared over the last ten years, and are also involved in native bee-keeping to produce honey from the jungle. They are very keen to work with other conservation-minded folk and would welcome visitors to their community.

Some links re relevant environmental issues here in Ecuador (and throughout the world……….) including an article about a new study on Jaguars……….

http://news.mongabay.com/2014/1002-hance-interview-rabinowitz.html?n3ws1ttr  An interview with Alan Rabinowitz, author of the new book, An Indomitable Beast: the Journey of the Jaguar

http://rainforests.mongabay.com/

http://news.mongabay.com/2014/1029-amazon-getting-drier.html?n3ws1ttr

All the best from hereaways……………………..