Amazon Giant, Yasuni National Park, Ecuador

Amazon Giant, Yasuni National Park, Ecuador
There’s an old Cree Indian prophecy that goes "Only after the last tree has been cut down... Only after the last river has been poisoned… Only after the last fish has been caught, only then will you find that money cannot be eaten." I find these words clever yet profoundly insightful, and more meaningful today than ever. Across the globe, vital ecosystems are disappearing at an alarming rate, a rate matched only by the speed with which the species inhabiting those systems are falling to extinction. This is particularly true in the Neotropics, where an extraordinary diversity of plants and animals are struggling with the catastrophic consequences of widespread deforestation and pollution. Many of the forests’ secrets elude ecologists, secrets whose answers will be essential if we are to protect the awesome biodiversity they contain. I study Neotropical butterfly ecology, with the hope that I may contribute to a better understanding of these wonderful creatures, and help conserve them in an uncertain future. Follow me during my work and adventures throughout Latin America here!

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Yarina Lodge

I´m very happy to report that the past 10 days spent collecting butterflies and exploring the rainforest at Yarina Lodge have been nothing less than amazing. This place is much more remote than my previous site, Jatun Sacha, and this is evidenced by an abundance of wildlife and even more impressive diversity of butterflies. So far, I´ve collected over 650 specimens of a large variety. No statistics yet, but I anticipate the species list will be impressive by the time I leave Yarina at the end of the month. In addition to loads of butterflies, I´ve also seen several types of monkeys, a tapir, capybara, agoutis, coatis, maccaws, snakes, frogs, caimen, and of course, tons of cool insects. I´ve even spotted my first-ever velvet worm (funny the things that impress entomologists??). There is even a rather bothersome parrot that comes to investigate all my colorful equipment when I return from the forest in the evening. When that´s the biggest complaint, I guess things are pretty good. 

This guy finds the pink strings I use to hoist my traps into the canopy irresistible!

As for the lodge itself, the setting is great. It is situated atop a hill overlooking a small tributary of the Rio Napo, and consists of a group of about 20 or so immaculate thatched cabinas. As opposed to Jatun Sacha, there is no road access, and this is surely a contributor to the diversity of wildlife and overall health of the forest ecosystem. However, it should be noted that the Amazon in Ecuador is often seen as a frontier, and there are plenty of folks lined up to tame it. FOPECA, one of the oil companies here, is building a massive bridge across the Napo, and roads are constantly being debated. How long before a road opens up this forest to oil, settlers, and development? For now at least, this is just a distant thought here at Yarina. At any rate, I am very grateful that the folks of Yarina have graciously agreed to have me here. You may take my description of the place as a resounding endorsement!

The main hut at Yarina.

Thatched cabinas.

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