Para la Tierra 2

Trip Start Apr 08, 2012
Trip End Sep 25, 2012

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Flag of Paraguay  , San Pedro,
Wednesday, May 9, 2012

The past couple of weeks I've been helping with the study on the spiny rat. Since the rats are very shy and almost impossible to catch she's focusing on burrow ecology.
She started with the first burrow more than a month ago. Starting with the entrances - of which there can be anything from 6 to 40 - she has been digging out the earth, following the pathways. 
If the trails are shallow, this work isn't so bad, but we found one part that was almost 2 feet deep. 
So lying on our stomachs in the open Cerrado, clawing through solid soil, digging out sand, sawing roots, getting sliced arms from those roots, makes for an exhausting few hours. 
It's warmed up quite a lot and the days are easily in the 30s C. So sweat mixed with the sand being thrown around the place, plus leaning on our arms and faces, we always get laughed at when we return to the house because we look as though we have been living in a cave for several days.
It's very dirty work and I've never appreciated a shower so much.  

We have started a new burrow now and it's in the Cerradon which is more foresty savanna. There are almost 30 holes at this one, but they are quite close together and hopefully the paths won't go as deep because there are so many more roots.

Another researcher arrived a couple of days ago that is studying bats. He is only here for 3 days and is setting up a bat net each night in a different area. I assisted with last night and we set it up on a trail in the Atlantic Forest.
My two experiences in the Atlantic Forest have been somewhat painful.
The first time I was helping with the possum traps and I ended up leaving with my arms covered in raised red mozzie bites. 
The second time I was helping to cut trails for the monkey team and I left with a few blisters and many more scratches.
While we were setting up the net, which is about 12 metres long, we were swarmed by mozzies, flies, bees, and horses that wanted to use the trail
We had to check to net every 15 minutes and because it was about that far away from the house we just camped out on the road just out of the forest.
Sadly we didn't end up getting any bats, and there were none the first night either so hopefully they have some luck tonight.
It was a little cold last night so that may have had some effect, especially for the insectivorous bats. 

There are about 20 horses that roam the Reserve here. Three or four of them can be ridden but the others are not broken and are described as being "completely mental."
We tried to ride today, but the two horses they caught weren't... great.
The one was fine, looked healthy and fast.
But the other is very old and looked like he would have difficulty not collapsing after a few metres.
So we'll try riding again next week.

Time is flying by. I feel like I just got here but it's already been more than 3 weeks. I've extended my stay by a few days to go as a group to Iguazu Falls, Argentina. Most of the people here need to get new visas - they only last 90 days - and visiting the Falls is a good place to do it as most people were going to go anyway and it's right on borders of Paraguay, Argentina, and Brazil.
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