It is with great sadness that we heard that World land Trust colleague and friend Roger Wilson passed away recently.
Roger was an experienced tropical forester and helped REGUA from day one with words of encouragement and the belief that we were capable of planting and delivering our forests.
REGUA’s restoration programme is well known within Brazil and I can say with assurance that we owe so much to him for starting this work and putting us on the map. Tropical forestry loses a great ambassador and we were proud to have known him. The photograph, taken in London in 2014, was the last time we were together.
Helmut Seehawer has been visiting REGUA for many years. As a former Lufthansa Airline Pilot, he flew from Germany to Brazil regularly, and in his free time explored the countryside.
On one occasion he travelled with his colleagues to Paraty in Rio State. In those days there were no roads and travelling was a real adventure. One of his friends was keen to find orchids and although Helmut could not understand the fascination, he wanted to explore the jungle. He was delighted when they found some unspoilt forests with their huge trees, tangles and epiphytes.
The friend pointed out large, bright flowers of orchids on the branches of the trees, and at times the two of them climbed trees to get closer views, occasionally jumping from one tree to the other using the branches and vines.
Whilst climbing the trees, Helmut noticed some smaller plants with more delicate flowers, these too were Orchids and a passion was realised.
Helmut purchased a “Sitio” or property in the mountains near Nova Friburgo so that he could explore and protect the habitat there, especially the wonderful orchids he had grown to love.
A collaboration with David Miller, Richard Warren and Isabel Moura Miller in the late 1990’s resulted in the acclaimed book ‘Serra Dos Órgãos Sua Historia e Suas Orquideas’ [Serra Dos Órgãos your history and your orchid]’.
Published in 2006, the book features over 200 superb illustrations by Helmut, in wonderful detail. [See below for just one example]
Helmut is back at REGUA for an extended visit with his son Klaus and grand-daughter Katja, who are both carrying on the family love of biology and nature. Klaus is a snake enthusiast and has spent long days in the field looking for snakes, whilst Katja has previously spent time as a Volunteer researcher at REGUA, studying the mammals around the wetland.
Illustrations by Helmut Seehawer (photo by Sue Healey)
Whilst counting Capybara, Katja and Helmut Seehawer found a wonderful green snake in the REGUA wetlands. It has been provisionally identified it as Chironius multiventris. If this is confirmed it would be a new snake for the REGUA snake species list.
The Chironius family of the Atlantic forest consists of five species of elegant green, grey, brown or black snakes. The green variants are especially difficult to identify.
The common name of Chironius multiventris is cobra-cipó – liana snake. It is a non-venomous snake that grows to nearly two metres. The snake is diurnal and actively hunts for its prey in trees and on the ground. It preys – good news for you birders out there! – mainly on amphibians.
The snake seen at noon right in the middle of the wetlands was 120 cm long and of a wonderful green colour with a blue shimmer reflecting from the sky above. It was observed for a while and obviously distracted by hunting.
With the growing number of species across many taxa in the wetlands the number of snakes will also increase. In intact Atlantic Forest habitat (without human snake killing) 80% of the snakes encountered will be nonvenomous.
On a separate occasion the Seehawer family encountered another large green snake on Green Trail. This snake was possibly Chironius exoletus or Chironius bicarinatus, but they were not able to make a reliable identification as the colour and back marking was in between these two snake species.
Give snakes their space and enjoy the rare adventure of seeing one.
N.B. it should be noted that snakes are not easy to find at REGUA, their natural defence means they are well aware of human presence and will slip away rather than be found. The Seehawer family are very experienced in finding snakes and walked in the forest with REGUA Rangers.
Sometimes one feels that there seems to be a lull like the wind has dropped leaving the sails slack. This year appeared that way; fewer visitors and reforestation grants contributing to the lack of needed momentum at a precious time.
Admittedly land purchases have been tough and it’s been hard to close the available areas with their respective owners. I guess socio-economic conditions are constantly changing and these naturally affect the efficiency of our proposal.
Then I received an email that the Global Conservation Leadership Programme winners had been announced and found the page to seek the name of those prizewinners.
The Young Conservationists is a great programme that seeks young researchers in Biology and provides them with a grant to continue with their studies. I have often been asked by friends to submit a proposal but I do consider I am in the correct age range to compete. Imagine my delightful surprise when checking this year’s prizewinners to find the Muriqui Monkey Project in SE Brazil.
The picture of André Lanna and Rildo as winners of the 2017 prize gave me a huge confidence boost. Well done André, REGUA ranger Rildo and Muriqui Team!
André had mentioned that REGUA may be the last bastion of the Southern Muriqui primate and suspect that there could be three populations here. May their project continue to enjoy the success it deserves and place REGUA healthily on the map.
REGUA received a visit by the eminent biologists Dr. David Redei and his colleague, Dr. Qiang Xie from Nankai University last December. Working in partnership with Brazil’s Fiocruz (Oswaldo Cruz Foundation) and invited by Dr. Felipe and Dr.Elcio, they spent a day looking at REGUA’s insect life.
David and Qiang are working on phylogeny using morphological and molecular characters used in establishing taxonomic differences. David is classifying insects according to tribe, family and genus. Their interest in South America is evident once one knows that the continent has its own endemic and specialized insects. David’s specialty is Hemiptera or Stink bugs, but he became very excited to learn that REGUA has its fair share of Phloeidae, a family existing only in the Neotropics of the Atlantic rainforest. These are barnacle like insects that can be found mainly lurking on tree trunks in quality forest.
Now we will keep our eyes peeled to photograph and send images to these fascinating visitors. Thank you both for visiting and sharing your interests with us!
Staying at Regua over the next 2 weeks, we have a guest Caroline Begg staying at the Lodge. During her time here, Caroline will be advising us on improving accessibility around the Lodge. Caroline has a disability called “Hereditary Spastic Paraplegia” and uses a mix of crutches and a wheelchair to get around. Two wooden ramps have been fitted, one up to the veranda and one leading into Room Three as well as a grab rail in the shower area. These improvements enable Caroline to get around the Lodge independently.
During her first week, Caroline accessed the Yellow trail around the wetland on her wheelchair with some assistance over tree roots and where there are slight inclines. We bird watched along the way, taking a leisurely 3 hours to complete the trail. She also participated in the weekly fitness class being held for REGUA staff at the conservation area. This class has been started to help staff member Lisa, who had her legs amputated last year to gain strength and improve her general fitness. During the week, we drove up part of the green trail and visited the new reforested area, the Protestant Land.
Caroline says she is impressed with the outstanding beauty of the reserve and the friendliness and willingness of the staff helping her to get around. Following Caroline’s visit, we will be looking to provide a room which is accessible for disabled visitors.
Tiger beetles are always exciting to watch as they prowl about searching for food before flying off like a jet fighter to disappear out of view.
They have characteristically large bulging eyes and large mandibles for crunching up their food.
Tiger Beetles come from the Cicindelinae family, originating from the Latin word of Glow worm since most are brightly coloured. Whilst this example looks similar to a Limestone Tiger Beetle, it is one of many different Cicindela sp.
In spite of scandals of corruption and the scares of Zika, Brazil is working hard to improve it’s image and the Olympics and Paralympics showed the world that Brazil has much to offer the world community.
Conservation of the world’s natural heritage is a concern that involves us all and REGUA is an example of dedication and care for our corner of Brazil.
Results from 2016 show that with the support from our UK team, our staff on the ground and our many supporters worldwide, we can and have made a huge difference. Forests are growing where seedlings were planted and children are learning about the importance of conservation from their visits to REGUA. Researchers reveal Atlantic Forest secrets and our rangers ensure that REGUA’s forests are respected.
Our visitors continue to leave impressed with all that they see, and into this mini Eden, tapirs will be released next year, engaging more people and promoting our efforts. None of this would be possible without your support and therefore Raquel and I on behalf of REGUA’s team, dedicate this Christmas to you all!
Help us to keep up the good work and we will show you the changes that make REGUA a very special place.
Planting has resumed at REGUA for the 2016 season, we have started just before our summer rains in a grassland area in a property supported by the Danish Travel Fund.
Although REGUA had only a World Land Trust grant to plant 5000 trees we decided to take action and plant a much larger area as a result of a grassland fire a month ago. The scorched grass gave us a head start in preparing the planting of our trees. REGUA had close to 80 native tree species ready to plant and then purchased a further 20 species from local INEA nursery to add to the tree diversity.
Extra hands were found in the local community and equipped with one petrol driven digger we have already planted half the area. A road was also made to acccess the higher areas. Tomorrow Famath University workshop students have requested the opportunity to plant 300 trees a offer we accepted with pleasure.
Replanting trees needs every ounce of help!
P.S since this article the sun has come out and the rains have stopped so our planting is on hold for a few days until the next rains come.