Category Archives: Rangers

What a difference a year makes!

It’s amazing how things can change in a year.   It’s just over a year since I was last at REGUA, and so much has happened.

Most noticeable to the lodge visitor is the tapir release project where  five Lowland or Brazilian Tapir (Tapirus Terrestris) have been released at the nearby wetlands, they often make the short trip up to the lodge garden.   It is surreal to see guests at night photographing moths at the moth wall, with a rather large mammal wandering past on its evening patrol, both seemingly unaware of the other.

Tapir in our restored wetland area (© Sue Healey)

The Tapir have managed to get food off the garden feeding stations so a suspended higher-level table has now been made.   The Common Marmoset (Callithrix jacchus) were a little perplexed initially but soon mastered the art of a trapeze-style dash across the wires.   Some continue the more traditional approach – head first down a nearby tree.

The lodge orchid garden continues to develop, and with ferns and bromeliads amongst the rocks it makes a breeding area for house wren and feeding area for hummingbirds, the lantana and milkweed are doing well, again both favourites with the hummingbirds.

Other changes may not directly affect our lodge guests but they are making a huge difference to local visitors, including school visits, with a new car park by the conservation centre – hopefully no more buses getting stuck in the mud!   A new accessible trail has been created to Amanda’s hide, bringing opportunities where previously it would have been impossible for some people to enjoy the delights of the wetlands.

On the project itself, we reached the milestone figure of 500,000 trees planted and continue to plant – over 69,000 trees were planted in the 2017/18 planting season alone, thanks to the generous donations from many of our supporters.

Wouldn’t one million trees planted be a great figure to reach in the future!

With more key land areas coming under REGUA’s care, increased wildlife corridors are being protected and created in the Guapiaçu catchment area.   This will extend the range for many species of wildlife and enable them to strengthen in population, increase genetic diversity and increase the overall biodiversity of the valley.

Restored and reforested wetland area (© Sue Healey)

Our Rangers continue to patrol the forest, adding security and monitoring the wildlife, whilst there has been a huge reduction in hunting in the area since the project began, we cannot stop our vigilance even though there is very little evidence of hunting seen or heard now.

If you would like to support REGUA’s work, full details on how to make a donation are available from our “donate” page here.

If you would like to volunteer, please see our link here for full details.

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.

IUCN Head of Research visits REGUA

Last weekend REGUA received Thomas Brooks, Head of Research at Geneva for IUCN.

In between seeing birds in the day and waiting for the owls to call in the evening, we discussed the importance of monitoring, something talked about at the recent World Land Trust conference in Thetford UK.

Thomas Brook with Nicholas & Raquel (© Norman Cooper)

He also asked us about long term sustainability.    I told Tom that we believe REGUA will continue to grow and reach to tourism, education and research income streams and that we look at the protection core costs such as Ranger work being covered by Eco-service payments.

As there is increasing evidence that forests produce water, we believe that grants will be available in the near future that provide annual fee given to those proprietors who have forest cover.

 

Rildo litter sampling

The Atlantic Rainforest has been subject to enormous change over the years and many species are suffering as a result of the forest vegetation cover change and, of course, hunting.

Rildo litter sampling (© Nicholas Locke)

REGUA received UNESP (São Paulo State University) researcher Carla Martins Lopes with a team of three researchers.   They are sampling leaf litter at the higher elevations of the Reserve to seek residues of DNA that can offer identification of the species that lived and frequented the same area in the past.

The World Land Trust Keeper of Wild Ranger Rildo da Rosa Oliveira guided the group to the top of the green trail, gathering leaves and bringing them down to our research laboratory.

We are very interested in the results, as this is a very new area of research sampling, and may offer some exciting surprises.   Perhaps we can build up images of the animals that occupied these forests in the past, such as the Jaguars, Tapirs and White-lipped Peccary!

 

Rildo finds Bothrops jararaca

Bothrops jararaca (© Rildo da Rosa Oliveira)

The Atlantic Forest snake species, Bothrops jararaca, a type of pit viper, is one that locals hold in the highest regard and with good reason. It is dangerous only if one steps on one and accidentally gets bitten.

According to serpent specialists, snakes are not uncommon in REGUA’s forests. I have to admit that although I have walked many times in the forest I have failed to find one. However, I am sure that finding one coiled on the path can be a harrowing experience. In the distant past most local people would kill every snake irrespective of colour, thickness and length.

Today the REGUA rangers know that reptiles form an important part of our biodiverse forests and are not aggressive. They now leave them to their own business, and are helping to spread the word that unless they are inadvertently disturbed, most snakes would slither off into the forest before we are even aware of their presence.

REGUA’s World Land Trust “Keepers of the Wild” project sponsored ranger Rildo da Rosa Oliveira found this one by a rock and left it apparently dozing. He didn’t want to look closer!

The elusive Solitary Tinamou at REGUA

The Atlantic Rainforest endemic Solitary Tinamou (Tinamus solitaries) has to be one of the hardest birds to see at REGUA.   I have only once seen one walking a distant trail some years ago.   The bird leapt onto the path in front of me and we walked serenely in single file for what seemed like an eternity but perhaps it was only a few seconds before it left.    I rejoined the bird group I was with half an hour later and told them excitedly what I had seen.    All I could see on their faces were torturous expressions of sadness.    Never again!

Solitary Tinamou egg (© Rildo da Rosa Oliveira)

The Solitary Tinamou occurs throughout the Atlantic Rainforest and suffers from the loss of habitat.   Hunters’ reputation depended on bagging these birds, but with the conservation efforts and reduced hunting the populations are rising and the birds can be heard throughout the reserve.    Ranger Rildo da Rosa Oliveira found this single egg.   He wasn’t able to go back to make sure it hatched, but we do hope all is well for the chick and its parents.

 

 

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.

 

Guapiaçu Grande Vida Project – Update

The latest news on our second GGV Project from REGUA’s Vice-President, Raquel Locke:

The much expected rain has finally arrived and the entire landscape has been relieved from a near two-month drought.

REGUA’s Nursery with trees ready to be planted (© Aline Damasceno de Azevedo)

The GGV Petrobras funded project aims at restoring a further 60 hectares of degraded land with native trees over a two-year period. (The first project restored 100 hectares).

On average, 1667 trees will be planted per hectare by a team of six Rangers who are very keen to start with their work.    An array of 100 native Atlantic Forest tree species will be planted in this area.    Tree matrices in REGUA´s forests provide the template for our planting of species.

The young trees are grown in REGUA’s nursery.   The seeds are carefully brought down from the forest by our nursery staff.   Once in the nursery, seeds are either stored or sown in seed beds according to their characteristics and demands.

It is interesting to note that some tree species need shade all through their time in the nursery, whilst other species need half or full exposure to sunlight.  Their pioneer, early secondary, late secondary and climax species characteristics dictate these requirements.

The rainy season heralds the start of our planting season, beginning in October and ending late March.

Degraded Hillside where the young trees will be planted (©Aline Damasceno de Azevedo)

Staff and tree saplings will be transported to the planting sites which are on average some six kilometres from REGUA´s Conservation Centre.

The much-improved road access to Pai Velho area in Areal vicinity has just been completed which should make the task more efficient.

Raquel Locke

Voluntary Forestry Brigade visit REGUA

REGUA received members of the Rio de Janeiro voluntary Forestry Brigade, a grass roots organization made up of professional people from Rio city who are committed to conservation.

The Team arrived on a lovely Saturday morning to enjoy a walk around the wetlands and discuss opportunities to support REGUA’s work.   Among the issues discussed during the day were potential for help in combatting hunting and forest fires, first aid courses and community engagement through education programmes, these are all issues which could be used to support landowners across the globe.   With REGUA’s successful Ranger Team, Community, Young Ranger and School education programme we were delighted to host the event and share our own experiences.

The Forestry Brigade with Nicholas and Raquel Locke (© Jorge Bizarro)

The Brigade would like to include REGUA as a place where they can stage weekend events including hiking on the forest trails on the prowl for any hunters.

Many members are retired but totally committed to forest protection and very keen to support REGUA activities.

Young Ranger Programme is 10 years old!

REGUA’s Young Ranger programme has just celebrated its tenth year of activity.

Designed to attract local children enrolled at schools, the programme offers a weekly afternoon visit managed by the REGUA part-time teacher Professor Carlos.   The children are aged between 11 and 15 years of age and receive extra tutorials.   These  usually centre on subjects related to the environment but equally discussing social development.

The Young Rangers with Prof. Carlos and Jorge Bizarro
The Young Rangers with Prof. Carlos (centre) and Jorge Bizarro (far left) (© Nicholas Locke)

The youngsters are really interested in the walks in the reserve and the visits to surrounding areas of interest.   This year we shall take them to Serra do Órgãos National Park, Três Picos Park and as far away as Rio de Janeiro.   It’s precisely on these visits that they start realising that they live in an area of outstanding natural beauty and begin to understand REGUA’s mission in the conservation of the Guapiaçu Valley.

These children grow knowing that REGUA has a non-offensive and long term objective that seeks a long term protection of the forests surrounding their homes and when they leave home and perhaps live in other areas of Brazil, they can take their experience with them, becoming multipliers of principles.