MONTHLY BLOG

Decemeber

1 December 2016

Since September, our efforts to find high terrace rainforest had proven to be quite complex. The difficulty of navigating through the aguajal behind Lake 2 took up large amounts of time and forced us to retreat various times back to Panthera due to limited daylight hours. However, we decided to set up a campsite and spend the night at Lake 2 so we could extend our length of expedition time. After spending a couple hours crossing a kilometer of flooded aguajal, we finally reached dry land which was immediately followed by a steep incline. This 20-25 meter incline indicated the apparent change in elevation from the aguajal to the crest of the high terrace rainforest. This forest contained different species of plants than those in lowland, a strong smell of animal life accompanied by numerous amounts of their trails, and permanent water sources. These quiet streams and small pools of water trickling down the hill were cold, clean, and crisp. Our goal for the future is to camp in this high terrace rainforest so we may explore more of the area. We hope to find both flora and fauna residing exclusively in high terrace, as well as more permanent water sources.

 

Alexandra Lopez

 

 

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November

1 November 2016

Caiman Egg Excavation

  

Continuing our work from last month, we ventured to Lake 3 once again. The female caiman spotted previously had appeared in the same spot—placing herself defensively between us and the small island. Our first attempt at searching for the nest just one week before was unsuccessful since the female growled and charged at us as we tried to approach the water. Her excellent hearing and vision made it easy for her to detect our movement, especially as a group of only three individuals. This time with the help of volunteers, one group was able to distract the female while another crossed over to the island. The nest was located under an aguaje palm tree on the highest point of the island. The eggs were found in the nest 60 centimeters below the surface protected by aguaje roots, their decomposing leaves, and pieces of old termite nest. Inside the nest were a total of 15 eggs, 14 healthy and 1 rotten. We have collected one healthy egg to be artificially incubated back at Panthera. 

 

This photo of the dead egg reveals the discoloration and deterioration of the shell

compared to the healthy eggs above

 

Alexandra Lopez

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October

1 October 2016

Lake 3 Discovery!

A body of water we gave the name of lake 3 was found on the east side of the sanctuary using satellite imaging. Here we discovered an adult black caiman of around 3 meters (10 feet) that appeared to be completely unafraid of our presence. This particular caiman was confirmed to be a female defending her nest on a small island opposite from where we were standing. Since nest building and egg laying takes place between October and November, females tend to be more irritable around those who venture near her nest. Our objective is to evaluate the eggs and construction of the female’s nest. However, we must first create a safe and effective way of doing so without scaring the female or disturbing the natural state of the nest.

 

 

Alexandra Lopez

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September

1 September 2016

Giant River Otters at Lake 2

With the fluctuating water level of the second lake, we were able to bypass the fallen tree trunk and explore the right channel. On this side of the lake we were very fortunate to find an area of dry land along the bank containing the excrement of giant river otters, thus indicating their presence at the lake. Giant river otters are endangered and exist in small numbers outside protected reserves. Later in the month a game camera was installed on this exact spot where both image and video footage of a group of 7-8 Giant River Otters were obtained. Furthermore, satellite imaging reveals that this site is connected to high terrace rainforest. In the near future we hope to find a way to access this high terrace rainforest since this type of terrain is known to have a biodiversity much different than that of the lowland rainforest.

Alexandra Lopez

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August

1 August 2016

On an excursion to the first lake, an egg belonging to a spider that remains undescribed was discovered on the trunk of a palm tree. This spider is quite rare and has only previously been found in the Tambopata National Reserve. What is remarkable about this spider is its way of laying only a single egg rather that constructing one enclosed egg sack containing all of its young. Amazingly, another egg of this same spider was found here a few days after the first discovery.

Alexandra Lopez

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July

1 July 2016

Caiman and Mammal Monitoring

 The caiman monitoring project was officially launched with its primary focus on black caimans, although the research has been extended to include two additional species (Schneider’s Dwarf and Spectacled) currently inhabiting the region as well. Lake 1, Gamitana Stream, and the Madre de Dios River are the three sites where monitoring takes place.

 

Later in the month, a partial image of a jaguar was successfully captured on the game camera. This image provides concrete evidence of jaguar presence in the area, especially in places near the aguajales. 

 

Alexandra Lopez

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June

1 June 2016

*For previous entries of the blog, please refer to the French version of the website. You can use the Google translation provided at the top of the page.

Virgin Lake Exploration

This month we managed to bring an expedition boat to explore and navigate the waters of Lake 2 since our first discovery of its existence in February. Only the left side of the lake was able to be explored since a fallen tree had blocked the entrance of the right channel. In contrast to Lake 1’s clear black water, the coloration of this particular body of water takes on a murky red hue. It remains uncertain as to what is present in the water that makes it this color.

 

An adult black caiman with an estimated size of about 4 meters (13.2 feet) has been spotted on multiple occasions during the daytime although two other juveniles have been seen only once. Despite it questionable water consistency, the second lake supports a large amount of fish, thus providing a suitable habitat for these crocodilian dwellers as well as other biodiversity.

Alexandra Lopez

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