Arrival at Para la Tierra
Trip Start Apr 08, 2012
28Trip End Sep 25, 2012
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The Camp is situated right on the lake, Laguna Blanca. It gets this name from the transparency of the water but that's only really obvious in the shallow parts.
There are 9 people here, all from Europe. They're all working on various projects around the Reserve, all basically trying to learn more about this place. This area has only been protected for about 2 years so there are not many, if any, large mammals and not much is known about the rest of them.
So one guy is setting up camera traps throughout the Reserve and changing their positions every week to see what species appear.
Another is doing research on a spiny rat because there is essentially nothing known about it.
I will be working with the two doing research on opossums. We will trap them and insert microchips to be able to track them.
That's all I've really been told so far, so as I learn more I will explain better.
There are two main vegetation types here; Atlantic Forest and Cerrado with what is known as transitional forest in between.
The Atlantic Forest is a dense tropical dry forest that, like most places with a lot of trees, is threatened by the need for lumber.
The Cerrado is sort of the South American equivalent of savanna, but more tropical. There are loose stands of trees with large open spaces.
There is very high biodiversity here with 10,000 plant species, almost 200 mammals, and more than 830 bird species found in the Cerrado alone.
We walked for a few hours this morning to scout out new locations for the camera traps. Saw a lot of birds but not much else.
There is one species of monkey in this area - one person is doing research on them - as well as crab-eating foxes which we saw a lot of tracks from. The large cats all left a long time ago and, with the Reserve being surrounded by farms, will probably never return. And at just over 800 hectares, the Reserve is too small to be home to even an Ocelot.
There are also two species of deer whose tracks are often seen and there are countless armadillo burrows everywhere.
I have high hopes of seeing the Toco Toucan and there are apparently some burrowing owls that live right next to the house.
Upon my arrival I was given the typical safety briefing and how the nearest hospital is more than an hour away so I better not pick up any snakes, etc, etc.
I barely held back a smile the entire time because, while I know it's required, I also know these warnings and dangers by heart.
For example, walk around at night wearing shoes and using a torch. Don't stick your hand into dark places. Shake out your shoes before putting them on (this has actually become such a habit that I'll do it automatically whether I'm in Jackson or Kruger).
But most people don't have those warning ingrained in them, and I get that.
It also feels a bit off to be walking in an environment like this - I wouldn't say similar to the South African bush but also not completely different - as we did.
Walking without a rifle will take some getting used to as will talking and just being generally loud.
We just got back from frogging on the lake. We went to a marshy area that smelled of fermentation and located the frogs by their calls. Although we couldn't manage to find the one we originally went out for we did find a couple different species.