Category Archives: Mammals

First tapir born in the wild at REGUA

Still taken from camera trap footage of the first wild born Lowland Tapir in Rio de Janeiro state for 100 years (© Adilei Carvalho da Cunha)
Still taken from camera trap footage of the first wild born Lowland Tapir in Rio de Janeiro state for 100 years (© Adilei Carvalho da Cunha)

We bring you a follow up of the news of the birth of Rio de Janeiro’s first wild Lowland Tapir Tapirus terrestris birth for over a century, at REGUA.

The story kicks off in 2016 when Professor Fernando Fernandez of the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro (UFRJ) arrived at REGUA with a plan of releasing 10 pairs of Lowland (or Brazilian) Tapirs at REGUA over 3-4 years, a species that has been extinct for over 100 years in Rio de Janeiro state, (a physical territory equivalent to the country of Costa Rica). The forests that Roger Wilson of the World Land Trust had exhorted us to plant in 2005, were at a stage that they represented the perfect gateway to the forested mountains of the Três Picos State Park, the third largest remaining fragment of Atlantic Forest in the world. After much time convincing the Park authorities that this was a great idea to improve forest quality through seed dispersal, the go ahead was granted.

REGUA built two huge fenced pens in the forest by the wetlands to receive three Lowland Tapirs raised in a captive breeding centre in Minas Gerais. Accompanying Eva was her adolescent calf, Flokinho, and partner Adão, names chosen by the local community in late 2017. Sadly Adão succumbed to pneumonia, but soon afterwards the Projeto Refauna team brought another three, Jupiter, Valente and Flora, from another breeding centre in Paraná. Jupiter is a fitting name, being the God of sky and thunder in Roman mythology, as Jupiter spoon chased off Flora’s calf Flokinho, who is now living in the lower part of the Guapiaçu valley. Time passed as the three weaned off their supplementary diet of fruit and lo and behold 13 months later we have our very first tapir calf!

The Projeto Refauna team managed the first glimpses through a camera trap. Then REGUA bird guide, Adilei Carvalho da Cunha, installed two camera traps, but found the card in one was faulty and the other trap captured no video of any tapir (though a surprising amount of recordings of agouti paca, common marmoset, common opossums and the smaller gray four eyed opossum). Adilei replaced the dud card and later successfully returned with these two videos. Both show a very healthy individual (still without a name) which we expect to be at least three months of age. Mum is living by some fields and plantations, not in deep forest, and has been seen walking a trail that goes to the river many times of the day.

This is not only the very first Lowland Tapir born at the Guapiaçu Ecological Reserve, but also the first born out of captivity in Rio de Janeiro state for over a hundred years. We have to thank Projeto Refauna, the tapir captive breeders and of course the Três Picos State Park authorities, who will certainly be seeing the tapirs roaming before long in this immense green area.

2019 Update

Dear Friends and Supporters of REGUA 

Yet another year has passed and Raquel and I, on behalf of everyone at the REGUA project, would like to share this update that is just full to the brim of encouraging news. 

The Guapiaçu Valley (© REGUA)

The mission statement of the project is the conservation of the Guapiaçu watershed achieved through the implementation of four principle programmes; protection; restoration; education and research. 

Land Purchase is a visceral part of REGUA’s protection programme and in 2019 REGUA purchased or (at the time of writing) is in the process of finalising the purchase of various parcels of land to integrate into the Reserve of 338.5 hectares/846.25 acres. This would not be possible without the continued generosity of our supporters. 

REGUA employs 10 rangers from the local community and their work consists of principally patrolling the forests along 45km of the reserve’s trail network. The aim of the patrolling is to show REGUA presence and discourage hunting.  Coming from the local community the rangers are able to share news and discuss any concerns which enables them to be part of the decisions made and work done here.  Sponsorship supports some of our rangers enabling us to increase our team as land purchase increases the size of the reserve.

Our Reforestation Team (© REGUA)

REGUA continues to reforest as part of its programme in habitat restoration. The project has now planted over 520,000 trees since 2005. Tree planting is not an easy task, but with support from many individuals, and grants from companies and supportive conservation organisations, REGUA has planted tough areas and results are heart-warming. Increasing the overall forest cover, reducing edge effect, and creating and strengthening forest corridors, which offer greater areas for biodiversity, are vital. 

Our education programme thrives with the out-reach programme to local schools meeting over 2,270 children. We have 19 enthusiastic young people in our young ranger programme and have met just under 200 school teachers and received 80 tutors on our teacher courses. All of which continues to spread our message of conservation and the value of the wonderful landscape and biodiversity in to the local communities.

Taking our education programme to local communities (© REGUA)

Over 2,000 individuals have participated in training courses and research work at REGUA and our reputation with major universities continues to grow. 

The results have led to protocols in tree monitoring established by the RJ Government; on-going experimental plots; long term monitoring plots to measure tree growth; carbon sequestration studies; seed exchange and hosting technical workshops at REGUA as well invitation to participate in seminars and congresses.

Our protection and increased continuous forest, made REGUA a suitable project to launch the tapir reintroduction programme, a fact which we feel is an clear endorsement of the work we are doing. The reintroduction project is run by the Rio de Janeiro University. REGUA currently has nine tapirs roaming in the nearby local forests. This attracts public attention and reflects the value of a safe nature reserve. Sadly things are not always straightforward and two casualties showed that bats, anaemia and infections are to be reckoned with.

Lowland Tapir reintroduction (© REGUA)

Tourism at REGUA has continued to increase as a result of its reputation spread by word of mouth, internet and social media promotion, report writing and reviews. The Lodge offers comfortable accommodation, and guiding helps to make for a pleasurable and productive time. The bird life continues to attract visitors and groups from around the globe, but similarly dragonfly, butterfly and amphibian groups are visiting. Rio is an international hub and makes the REGUA an easy place to visit being just under two hours from the airport with a remarkably preserved habitat. 

Our plans for the future are clear, we have to keep developing and promoting our work independently. REGUA wishes to expand and consolidate through land purchase and complementary programmes. Tourism continues to be an essential component of REGUA’s fund-raising.

The conservation principles and ethos has attracted political interest and with the aim of securing water resources, the Government has declared the Guapiaçu watershed as strategically important for conservation. 

Restoration in action (© REGUA)

Brazil continues to be a key area for global conservation, but it’s not an easy country to work in.  Located in a global “hotspot”, the Atlantic rainforest biome, located in an “Important Bird Area” (IBA) as defined by Birdlife International, REGUA is an “Outpost of the UNESCO Biosphere Reserve”. 

Perhaps REGUA is not pristine habitat nor is it the home to some of the more charismatic species instantly recognised by the general public, but our main contribution is that we are repairing and organising damaged ecosystems. REGUA is showing that this different approach, will one day be vital for repairing tropical forests around the globe. 

Three RPPNs areas have been constituted and two more are waiting to be approved, taking us up to second position in the State list of protected private areas. Our conservation efforts are being recognised and they are a source of inspiration to people visiting anxious to see what the fuss is all about!

This year REGUA was able to put more land into protection, plant more trees, publish more science and receive more visitors. As a result we are
influencing public politics as to the regional importance of this Guapiaçu
watershed and encouraging others to follow us. 

We could not be prouder of our efforts. We would like to wish everyone a very Happy Xmas and a wonderful New year.

King Vulture photographed by Marco Wood-Bonelli

Here’s to a great year ahead – and hoping for more great sightings like the King Vulture photographed by Marco Wood-Bonelli in September 2019!


Nicholas, Raquel, Thomas and the REGUA Team 

 

Muriquis appear safe from the yellow fever scare

Photographs and video captured by World Land Trust funded “Keeper of the Wild” REGUA Ranger Rildo da Rosa Oliveira, show the “endangered” Muriquis seem to have been less affected by the Yellow Fever bout that impacted the populations of the Howler monkeys earlier this year.

A couple of Howler carcasses were found on a REGUA partner property and the forests have remained silent as a result of the Yellow Fever that spread over South East Brazil.    A massive campaign to vaccinate people resulted but it was impossible for doctors to reach the primates in the forests.

Rildo was walking the REGUA Red Trail high, above the waterfall in November and heard barking coming from lofty tree canopies some way away.    Following the sound he quickly detected the group of five adults.   An adult female Muriqui had her young with her and tried to scare Rildo away, but it was too good an opportunity to miss.

Rildo has heard the Howlers calling over the last month, so it seems we haven’t lost all populations.   Fingers crossed that our continued restoration will give all species the room to increase in numbers and with corridors strengthen their populations.

Further studies are needed, but Rildo is delighted to share his rare sightings of the Muriqui with us.

The accidental birdwatcher

Capybara Hydrochoerus hydrochaeris (© Colin Daborn)

Volunteers Fiona and Colin Daborn report on their second week at REGUA.

We’ve now come to the end of our second week volunteering at REGUA and there has been plenty of work on trail maintenance, tree planting and nursery tasks. We’ve also chalked up a surprisingly extensive species list. We love the outdoors and all things nature but we wouldn’t classify ourselves as serious birders. At home in the UK we love seeing birds when we are out and about hiking or camping but we don’t normally keep a log. Life at REGUA is different. Whilst doing our volunteering we have so far seen an incredible 48 species of birds not to mention numerous butterflies and moths. My favourite bird is the bright red Brazilian Tanager Ramphocelus bresilius, easy to spot and still breathtakingly colourful even after a few sightings.

But there is more to REGUA than just birds. Our volunteer shared house backs on to the wetlands and most mornings before breakfast we have been down to the water’s edge to watch the group of 12 or so Capybara Hydrochoerus hydrochaeris who have made a small island their home. It has been a real treat to see them so close and they are great subjects for photos because they stay relatively still.

From the same location you can sometimes also catch a glimpse of a Broad-snouted Caiman Caiman latirostris gliding slyly through the water, keeping a low profile and watching out for his next meal. Sometimes the only part showing is a bulging glassy eye. Just once so far we have been able to see a sloth up high in the bare branches of a tree – standing just outside Casa 3 (another volunteer/visitors house) with binoculars it was great to watch him as he moved at glacial speed down the trunk.

Jararacussa Bothrops jararacussu (© Colin Daborn)

We’ve also had the privilege (?) of seeing two snakes this week. We disturbed the Tiger Rat Snake Spilotes pullatus while clearing debris on the Brown Trail – it must have sensed us coming and the first indication was a steady rustling noise as it slithered away through the leaves and then up a tree. Obviously feeling safe at that point it stayed still watching us watching him/her! Our other sighting was whilst walking back to the truck after tree planting as we followed a small stream, I glanced down and saw a venomous Jararacussa Bothrops jararacussu coiled on a rock on the lookout for lunch. As we were up on the bank at a safe distance there was plenty of time to study the impressive patterning and triangular head.

Most evenings around 5 pm you can find us sitting at the top of the observation tower, reclining in the comfy chairs and having a definite sense of being “on top of the world”. The view from there is amazing (you must come and see!) and truly hopeful – there are trees as far as the eye can see. We’ve spotted lots of hummingbirds from this viewpoint but on the walk back from the tower to our house we’ve also been lucky enough to see tapir. REGUA is in the midst of a Lowland Tapir Tapirus terrestris reintroduction programme so it has been fascinating to learn about that but even more exciting to see the tapir themselves snuffling around in the undergrowth rediscovering their native landscape.

We’re looking forward to exploring more of this landscape ourselves in Week three of our volunteering adventure. Coming soon!

Follow Fiona and Colin’s adventures at REGUA on their blog.

Second Tapir release begins!

Following the arrival of three Lowland Tapir Tapirus terrestris at REGUA last January, a further two males and a female named Jupiter, Valente and Flora arrived at REGUA in Guapiaçu as part of the continued Tapir reintroduction programme at REGUA on Sunday June 10th.    Sadly, we sustained the loss of the large adult male from pneumonia in March so these three new individuals were a most welcome addition to the remaining population, a mother and adolescent tapir who are very well.

The Tapirs arrive (© Nicholas Locke)

This reintroduction project has been carried out in partnership with Professor Fernando Fernandez, Maron Galliez and Joanna of the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro (UFRJ) and approved by the Rio de Janeiro State Environmental Department (INEA) as well ICMBio.

The tapirs arrived after a tiring 24 hour trip of over 1,000 km from the Klabin conservation project in Northern Paraná State. They were transported in their travelling cases but had behaved admirably and arrived quite calm.

Following much local interest, the cases were promptly taken to be unloaded and released in their two and a half acre quarantine pen created especially for them within a secluded part of the wetlands. The quarantine area has a small pond in which to play and enjoy.

Lowland Tapir has been extinct in the state of Rio de Janeiro for over 100 years and the arrival of these animals at REGUA represents the very first reintroduction of its kind in Rio de Janeiro state.    REGUA starting reforesting lowlands in 2005 with the support of the World Land Trust and in 2005 created RPPN status which protects these restored forests for the future.

The first crate being carefully lowered (© Nicholas Locke)

Lowland forest has virtually been eliminated in the State and REGUA’s protected area of 300 hectare Atlantic Rainforest adjacent to the enormous Três Picos State Park looked a very attractive area that could guarantee sufficient habitat for the species.

Being herbivores, tapirs consume all the fruit they can find on the forest floor. Feeding on fruit and walking large distances in the forests, they are regarded as the ‘gardeners of the forests’. The UFRJ team understood the need for reintroductions as a means to learn more about this species and their adaptability whilst REGUA wants the animals to spread tree species, increasing forest diversity and ensuring its resilience on the long term.   Likewise, captive breeding programmes are only too delighted to support such well conducted release programmes as it provides the justification for breeding these lovely animals in captivity.

Until their supported release, and like their predecessors Eva and Flokinho the three tapirs will enjoy a diet of fruit and vegetables, up to 8 kilogram per animal per day together with dried maize, to keep them well nourished.  Professors Maron and Joanna will keep their eye on them ensuring that the radio collars are not bothering them and they like their diet. After their release they will find fruit and maize nearby, but like most native animals they will probably prefer to roam and return to the solitary lives they enjoy.

Their release will provide valuable information as to their wanderings and habitat preferences, but there are already camera traps in the pen to check on their nocturnal behaviour and later more will be placed in the forest.

Exciting times ahead for our tapirs and for our biologists!!

You can see Flora’s arrival into the quarantine pen here:  Flora’s arrival filmed by Nicholas Locke.

Young Rangers hear Tapir update

The Tapir re-introduction team comes to Regua on a weekly basis to check on the well-being of the Tapirs and to talk to community neighbours about this project.

Young Rangers hear Tapir Update (©REGUA)

The Young Rangers were thrilled to hear from Joana the Education Officer from the Tapir Reintroduction programme, that the Tapirs are becoming more independent from the food provided for them and that they are moving further away from the release-pen as each day goes by.

Prof. Carlos and the young rangers will be visiting the local villages of Guapiaçú, Santo Amaro, Areal, Matumbo and Estreito to inform the communities on the positive development of this pioneering project.

 

The latest news on the tapirs

Adam and Eve at REGUA (© Adilei Carvalho de Cunha)
Adam (left) and Eve at REGUA (© Adilei Carvalho de Cunha)

The tapirs still haven’t been fully released into the wild but their pen surrounds a large inlet of water and in the heat of the day both adults, baptized Adam and Eve, enjoy staying in the water to savour the coolness.

Adam has a radio collar attached but Eve’s collar was removed to let a sore heal. Seeing two tapirs wallowing in the protected and natural habitat at REGUA is quite a sight!

We are hoping for a soft release by the end of February – more news to follow!

Rangers protect Southern Muriqui forests

The Southern Muriqui (Brachyteles arachnoides) restricted to the Serra do Mar mountains of South East Brazil and classified as “endangered” on the IUCN red data list, used to have a much larger home range.

(© Rildo da Rosa Oliveira)

Sadly forest loss, fragmentation, timber extraction and urban expansion reduced its home range area and today the sighting of this magnificent species is really rare.     Some retired hunters have never seen them!

Rildo da Rosa Oliveira is one of REGUA’s team of rangers.   Rildo, who is funded by the World Land Trust “Keepers of the Wild” programme, caught these amazing photographs of the species with young of various ages indicating the population is stable and healthy.

Rildo (himself an ex-hunter) is engaged in helping University researchers in their studies. REGUA likes to promote research in the Reserve as a means to maintain a positive presence in the forests which are home to peccaries and pumas, the Solitary Tinamou and the Variegated Antpitta as well as important tree species.    Maintaining a low impact and constant presence dispels the hunters and charismatic important species such as the Southern Muriqui become less flighty over time.

(© Rildo da Rosa Oliveira)

These animals are now being more regularly sighted and specialist André Lanna suggests REGUA might be home to the largest population of the Muriqui in South East Brazil, or the world for the matter, as the species is endemic to this region.

REGUA wishes to thank the World Land Trust for their support that permits ranger Rildo to keep a whopping 2500 hectares free for the species and the forests of hunters.

 

Tapir introduction going well

‘Snowflake’ in the REGUA forest (© REGUA)

The introduction of the Lowland or Brazilian Tapir Tapirus terrestris at REGUA is going very well. The two adults (previously referred to as Napoleon and Daphne) have been baptized ‘Adam’ and ‘Eve’ by the REGUA Young Rangers and the one year old calf (previously named Frank) has been given a new name, ‘flokinho’ or ‘Snowflake’ – probably because you see him very rarely here in the forest. He regularly wanders in and out of his release pen and ventures around the entire lowland area.

The researchers have been doing a great job and attached a radio collar to both adults and the programme is going according to schedule. For those who have never seen a tapir running in the forest, this is an opportunity not to be missed. They run faster than a champion Samoan rugby player with a similar frame and promptly disappear into the forest. There is a great pool in their release pen in which they can wallow and the adults love relaxing.

These tapirs are just terrific animals and although we are providing a fruit and vegetable supplement, they much prefer browsing the natural vegetation. They appear to enjoy nocturnal activities and we are set to release them at the end of February if all goes well.

Based on their and our learning, more will follow.

Southern Tamandua seen at REGUA

Southern Tamandua
Southern Tamandua Tamandua tetradactyla (@copy; Adilei Carvalho da Cunha)

Southern Tamandua Tamandua tetradactyla are not often seen at REGUA, with previous records including one in the lodge garden and another found dead in the forest at the wetland several years ago.

But last November our bird guide Adilei Carvalho da Cunha was lucky enough to find one on the Red Trail and managed to capture some excellent video of the encounter.

This member of the anteater family is found in a variety of habitats from mature to disturbed secondary forest and arid savannah, although it is thought to prefer living near streams or rivers. Feeding on ants and termites they will occasionally take bees and honey. A solitary species, Southern Tamanduas are mainly nocturnal, although as can be seen here, they are sometimes found during the day and this individual seemed to be completely at ease with Adilei’s presence.

It’s great to see this enigmatic creature in the forests at REGUA and this sighting is another indicator of the improvement our reforestation has made to the biodiversity of the forest environment.

Arrival of the tapir!

Lowland Tapir Tapirus terrestris at REGUA about to have a radio transmitter collar fitted, 12 December 2017 (© Nathalie Horta)

The travelling cases are carefully positioned to release the animals into the specially built pen at the REGUA wetland (© Thomas Locke)

After five years of planning we are delighted to announce to arrival of three Lowland Tapir Tapirus terrestris at REGUA, a male, female and calf.

This reintroduction project has been carried out in partnership with Professor Fernando Fernandez of the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro (UFRJ) and his team and Rio de Janeiro State Environmental Department (INEA).

The tapirs arrived yesterday afternoon after a tiring trip of over 1,000 km from the State of Minas Gerais. Their travelling cases were unloaded and taken to a specially prepared pen created in a secluded landscape where the animals can become accustomed to their new environment.

For a while we will provide fruit and vegetables for them to eat – up to 8 kg per animal per day. During this stage strict guidelines will be followed to ensure they do not become habituated or reliant on the provision of food.

The Lowland Tapir has been extinct in the state of Rio de Janeiro for over 100 years and the arrival of these animals at REGUA represents the very first reintroduction of tapirs in Rio de Janeiro state.

Our forests have lost their largest land mammal and one responsible for spreading the seeds of many trees and ensuring the strength and health of a forest – often referred to as the ‘Gardener of the Forest’. With the return of the tapir, REGUA will have great help in the regeneration process of the forest. Here’s wishing our new tapir family a successful future!

The Knight Family continue their visit

The Knight Family at REGUA with Jorge (left), Raquel and Micaela (right) (©Loan Heringer)

Sylvia and Chris Knight visited REGUA recently with their two children, and one of the tasks they undertook was to see how many different seeds they could find in the forest.

However, that was not the only thing they did in their visit – here’s more from Sylvia.
“As a family, some of the real highlights were our night-time walk where we were spotting caiman, opossums and nightjars as well as other sightings of sloths, a gorgeous orange spined hairy dwarf porcupine, two male blue manakins displaying to a female, watching 1743 cattle egrets come in to roost, and so much more.

We’d like to reiterate our thanks to all the people at REGUA who made us feel so welcome, and made our stay so enjoyable by ferrying us around, feeding us, finding us incredible wildlife and answering a lot of questions!

The Knight family

Crab-eating Fox

Crab-eating Fox (Cerdocyon thous), is quite a common South American mammal confined mainly to Brazil, Argentina and Paraguay, and labelled “of least concern” on the IUCN red list.

Crab-eating fox (© Adilei Carvalho da Cunha)

It is seen mostly on open areas and on REGUA’s lowlands this is no exception.   They are most often seen at REGUA on our night excursions when caught in the torchlight as they roam the fields around the Reserve.   It is, however, a timid animal and if one is fortunate to see one streaking across the road and into the bushes to hide, the observer is left content.

Adilei (REGUA resident Bird Guide) was walking the Yellow Trail by the wetlands recently and came across this resting female lying on the path.   As Adilei crept up to steal a closer image, she jumped up and took off.    Sadly you cannot see its fine bushy tail.

The Capybaras of the REGUA wetlands by Katja Seehawer

Inspired by my Grandfather’s (Helmut) stories of adventure in identifying orchids and my Father’s (Klaus) passion for snakes, I visited REGUA as a volunteer in 2015. I want to pursue a career in biology and my focus then was on which mammals venture to and from the wetlands and which routes they choose to take, using camera traps positioned on visibly active animal trails.

Katja Seehawer with Capybara (© Klaus Seehawer)

I showed that trail building in an around the wetlands is almost exclusively done by the Capybara Hydrochoerus hydrochaeris, that permanently live in the wetlands though other animals would also use their trails. These animals like to use the main tourist trails, but between the wetland lakes and the major routes also exist a network of minor “social” trails.

The Capybaras’ stronghold at REGUA is the wetlands but they leave the wetlands for feeding. This was done on three major routes leading to neighbouring farmland, adjacent wetlands and into reforested rainforest with remnant pastures.

I returned to REGUA in March 2017 and observed that all the major routes still existed. There was no change in the trail network although there was an obvious change to where the Capybaras stay during daytime. The object of my stay was to determine how the Capybaras live in the wetlands.

Based on different counts I estimated that there were 50–70 Capybara living in the wetlands in March/April 2017. These numbers were less than we expected. I did not count them in 2015, but I have the feeling their numbers have declined. In 2015 there were seemingly two major groups of Capybara and they were apparently present everywhere in the wetlands. But this was not the case this year, when there was only one group left and other individual Capybara were scattered.

In 2015 I also noticed that many Capybara had wounds and cuts especially on their rear body parts. Some were seriously wounded and were noticeably limping. They seemed to be quite aggressive between each other and I could witness several moments when Capybaras bit each other. The wounds were not as obvious this year. Fighting still took place but the wounds were not as numerous and not as severe. I have the feeling there may have been over-population in 2015 and the lower numbers could have diminished social pressure in 2017.

I also observed that only the group near the volunteer houses remained and concluded that the animals also formed “Capybara nurseries”. A group of 20-30 Capybaras would gather on an island and look after the new born and young less than six months of age, guarded by three to six adults. The young were clearly protected with the adult guards looking in every direction supervising the group. This nursery island was abandoned about one hour after sunrise each day, the young guided to their day area and to other Capybara groups. The majority of Capybaras live loosely dispersed on the shores and islands all over the wetlands.

Aside from the nursery, I could not find evidence of a constant group of Capybara larger than five animals during my three week study. I could not mark any Capybara and there are no individual markings on any Capybara body to distinguish them apart. From the pictures of the camera trap I could see that there were no uniform constant groups. Capybara would go alone or form differently composed groups daily.

Katja with curious Capybara (© Klaus Seehawer)

Over the past three years there was a noticeable relocation of the Capybara population towards human housing especially during night time. This behaviour could be the result of a clear increase of larger predators in the wetlands. We have seen at least three large Broad-snouted Caiman Caiman latirostris longer than two metres and there was a clear evidence of an increase of big cat activity in the wetlands. I had read tales from African safari camps of alternating behaviour of animals with young moving towards humans to avoid their predators.

It is possible that the whole population of the REGUA wetland Capybara are in fact a loosely connected society but their behaviour may vary seasonally. This has to be verified.

The REGUA wetland Capybaras give me the impression of a healthy population that very well adapts and regulates itself by wandering off to the adjacent habitat and perhaps also through increasing predation. For future work on the Capybara and to study their social behaviour I will have to find a way to mark individual Capybara. Radio tagging would only make sense when and if we could get funding for a major work on Capybara.

There are excellent conditions to study the life in nature of Capybaras and other wildlife at REGUA because wildlife is diverse and abundant and almost free from human pressure. I look forward to returning and conducting further research work at REGUA.

Collared Peccary skull found

Raquel went seed collecting recently with Barata and Mauricio as we are always on the lookout for seeds to plant in the REGUA nursery.

January is a good month to collect seeds and many species were laying on the forest floor.   High on the Orange trail, Barata suddenly came across a small den and upon closer inspection found the extraordinary remains of a Collared Peccary, Tayassu tajuco.

These are mainly fruit eaters and have been regularly caught on camera traps in large groups foraging for food amongst the vegetation.

It is quite a common species found across the Americas but the sight of the huge skull with its large canines is still most impressive.   Barata had never seen one before and Raquel has a good example to captivate our visitors’ attention.

Nicholas Locke

Tapir Reintroduction update

The expected release of the first two South American Tapir (Tapirus terrestris) also known as Brazilian or Lowland Tapirs, has been delayed slightly but is still expected to occur before the end of the year.

The release compound where the animals will be held for a month to become acclimatised before release has been completed, and the reintroduction team are busy talking to all the local landowners and schools to ensure that everyone is aware of the project and is supportive.

In total it is planned to release about 50 animals over the next five years or so, and at least the first few will have collars fitted which will incorporate both satellite transmitters and radio tags so that their movements and behaviour can be monitored.    Tapirs are usually solitary animals and will range widely in the forest, but in hot weather they need to find ponds or rivers in which they can cool down.    The major concern is that they may start visiting local farmers’ crops and cause damage, which is why so much effort is being taken to inform locals of the releases and of the legal methods that can be used to prevent that damage.

Puma on the 4X4 Trail
Puma on the 4X4 Trail (© REGUA)

In addition to the collars, the team will be setting up a series of camera traps to monitor the released animals, and trials have already produced some wonderful photos of other mammals that inhabit the forest. This wonderful photo of Puma was taken on the 4×4 trail.

Tapirs

Whilst on holiday in the southern Amazon area, I came across a muddy path with these Tapir tracks.   The animals move through the forest looking for muddy pools and water holes, making tunnel-like paths.   They feed on the lush growth promoted by these wet areas.

Tapir print
Tapir print (© Sue Healey)

As they move around their territory, they defecate,  depositing seeds they have consumed.   This promotes future plant growth and increased diversity of plant species throughout the forest.

Its exciting to think that we will have these tracks around REGUA in the not too distant future with our re-introduction project.

For more information about the Tapir re-introduction project see our Mammal page.

REGUA to reintroduce South American Tapir

reintroduction-tapir-parque-estadual-dos-três-picos
South American Tapir with GPS collar (© Patrícia Medici, INCAB)

tapir-reintroduction-team-00101-nicholas-locke
From left: Ruy, Carlos Salvador (UFRJ), Adrian Monjeau (Fundación Bariloche), Joana Macedo (Uerj), Maron Galliez (IFRJ)and Nicholas (© Nicholas Locke)

An extremely exciting piece of news! After much planning, REGUA is moving forward with our Tapir Reintroduction Programme.

The South American Tapir Tapirus terrestrial, also known as Lowland Tapir or Brazilian Tapir, is classified as Vulnerable by the IUCN, but would have been widespread in the Atlantic Forest of the state of Rio de Janeiro in south-east Brazil, before hunting and habitat destruction brought it to extinction. REGUA, with it’s forests protected from hunting, restored wetlands, and Education Programme, is an ideal site for this ground breaking project.

The REGUA Tapir Reintroduction Programme is led by Rio de Janeiro University Professor Fernando Fernandez, who has previously successfully released Red-rumped Agouti Dasyprocta leporina and Brown Howler Monkey Alouatta guariba in Rio de Janerio’s Tijuca Forest National Park, and is being carried out in partnership with Instituto Federal do Rio de Janeiro (IFRJ), Universidade Federal do Rio de Janiero (UFRJ), Universidade Federal Rural de Rio de Janeiro (UFRRJ), Universidade estaudual do Rio de Janeiro (Uerj) and the Three Peaks State Park (Parque Estadual dos Três Picos).

Local builder Ruy and the team of REGUA rangers are planning to build the tapir pen next month. Although these animals are notoriously obstinate, the one hectare pen will be made out of reinforced and treated eucalyptus posts constructed in the forest on the far side of the wetlands.

A pair of tapirs will come from a breeder in the city of Araxá, about 1,000 km away from REGUA. After a period of quarantine they will be released with a GPS transmitter attached to register their tracks. We are ready to go into the field and mark the area.

South American Tapir is the largest land mammal in South America and known as the “overalls of the forest” for scattering seeds of various species of plants, contributing to the maintenance of biodiversity. Joanna, the project’s Education Officer, will be informing the local schools and communities of the importance of this species’ reintroduction to the environment.

This is the first time tapirs will be released and it is very exciting for us to be part of the project.