Our young ranger project, now in its 13th year, continues to flourish under the ever-present influence of Prof. Carlos. From nearby schools, the youngsters are collected once a week and brought to the reserve.
These young people are given the opportunity to experience life in the forest with walks and activities which bring them into a new environment. Although the majority of the subjects raised are based on environmental and conservation issues, this can follow a very wide area of experiences as they are made aware of the human responsibility and duty as a citizen, to nature and their community as they grown up.
Indoor lessons on various topics including the biodiversity of the Mata Atlântica, how forests help provide clean water and the importance of recycling. Walks around the wetland area, enable practical activities, such as water quality testing, clearing the paths of fallen branches and repainting the distance markers to be carried out. Sometimes they help in the tree nursery or plant out saplings. These practical activities ensure that these young people become engaged with the forest and feel comfortable there.
Researchers visiting REGUA are happy to discuss their projects – with snakes and bats being the two most popular talks so far. The children are also involved in the education programme supporting the introduction of Lowland Tapir on the reserve. This has encompassed our local communities and reinforces the importance of improving and protecting the Guapiaçu Valley.
South East Brazil’s most successful Young Ranger course has celebrated its 12th anniversary.
It is aimed at the younger segment of our local communities and offers young children a glimpse into our own vision of the world, that of conservation. We want to show them why we need to protect Nature here and how we do so.
If they can understand that they live in one of the most bio-diverse Hotspots in the globe and that REGUA wants to share this with them, then we have helped instil the concept of responsibility. It has been a brilliant 12 years with super results and it’s a programme that all sister conservation projects could offer.
P.S. I well remember a group of friends visiting the Reserve in May 2006, agreeing to help with your new Educational project. They took telescopes down to the Wetland to meet our first group of Young Rangers. The children had never really had the opportunity to look at birds and the excitement could be heard back at the lodge as they looked at different species and delighted in trying to understand their English names. The current Young Rangers are studying and monitoring the quality of the water in the wetlands, are keen to explore the forests in the area and understand far more about the importance of protecting the area they live in. They still love to practice their English too!
Prof. Carlos Quintanilha, the Environmental Education teacher in charge of REGUA’s Young Ranger programme has started with the weekly lessons on Thursday afternoons. There are 15 very enthusiastic youngsters coming from the nearby communities of Matumbo and Estreito. All of them attend the local school in the morning and look forward to coming to the Reserve in the afternoon.
Prof. Carlos is a very dedicated teacher keeping the Young Rangers’ interest in nature with different subjects and activities which are undertaken during their visits. So far this year the Young Rangers have worked with the subject of water availability and its sustainable use. Carlos is raising their awareness on clean, abundant water being dependant on the protection of our forests.
“Forests produce water” is the quote you hear them commenting amongst themselves.
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.
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 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.
As in many of our Young Ranger programmes, the students are taken to the latest area of reforestation – eleven years on and this year was no different.
On one recent visit to the Morro Pai Velho, local resident João and his wife saw the group of Young Rangers on their work without adequate footwear. He decided there and then to order 30 pairs of wellington boots to equip the students.
He said that when he was growing up, he hadn’t any to wear and was so impressed by REGUA’s commitment to the younger generation that he wanted to find a way to reward them with this generous present.
REGUA’s Young ranger Miguel Conceição has successfully completed his guide training course with honours. The course was administrated by the State organisation, INEA and Três Picos State Park with the aim to qualify and prepare youths as professional guides in the region’s parks.
The course focuses on youngsters who like nature and Miguel was selected after showing a real aptitude for nature in our Young Ranger programme.
Everyone at REGUA is very proud of his achievement – it just shows that with determination and perseverance one can achieve great things. Our education officer Professor Carlos is thrilled with his star pupil however, he is adamant, that all of the youngsters participating in this course have the capability to achieve this type of success.
As Miguel says, “It is my dream to become a biologist”. His mother is rightly very proud and overjoyed as the course has inspired and instilled many values with the local youngsters, and says REGUA has been the best thing to happen to her family. Wow!!!
We owe it to people like Miguel who believe in what we are doing and are prepared to take up the opportunities that are offered their life. Thank you also to INEA for offering the chance to change this young man’s life.
Rio’s State Environmental Institute (INEA) organized a summer training course called “Trail Guiding” whose target audience were participants from the local areas of Cachoeiras de Macacu and Guapimirim. Thirty people enrolled in this course including REGUA’s young ranger Miguel – just shows how inspiring REGUA can be!
The aim is to prepare local guides to help visitors at the Três Picos Park and Natural Park at Macacu. The guides love nature and need to gain experience, knowledge and confidence to show visitors all the beauty and diversity of the Atlantic Forest.
Part of the course covers Bird guiding, and as Regua’s guides have become well known for their skill and knowledge, we were happy to host the birdwatching event around our restored wetlands. Adilei de Carvalho and Cirilo Vieira, Regua’s bird guides, were in charge of the training, giving a talk on what birding is about and showed them some of the most representative lowland species in the wetlands.
As we progress the Brazilian Tapir (Tapirus terrestris) re-introduction programme, it is vital that the local communities are aware of the project and understand the value of Tapirs to the diversity of the forest.
Nicholas and Raquel are working with the Team on this vital issue – considering the possibility of the Tapirs advancing into local fields and feasting on manioc, corn and guava!
Brazilian Tapirs have been extinct for the last 100 years in the state of Rio de Janeiro. They can reach 300 kilos and their diet is based on fruits, leaves and shoots, making them very important seed dispersers and soil fertilizers.
It is not only the adults that are involved in this education programme however. Professor Maron Galliez and Joana Macedo recently organized a session with the Young Rangers.
After the Team explained what Tapir are and the reason for their re-introduction, there was a lively audience participation session which the Young Rangers thoroughly enjoyed.