A big Thank You to all REGUA supporters!

REGUA welcomed retired RSPB director Stuart Housden and Alan Martin recently.   Although Stuart is familiar with the project and had visited REGUA before, he is now a Brazilian Atlantic Rainforest Trust (BART) Trustee and the aim of the visit was to learn what REGUA does; why its work is so valuable and how he could help us with his vast experience.

Stuart and Alan (© Nicholas Locke)

It is amazing to think that we started this off in 2001 with a plan to protect a part of the Atlantic Rainforest at REGUA and almost two decades later, this project is attracting international and national attention for progress in all of its programmes, be it in administration, protection, research, education, restoration or tourism.

REGUA’s location is privileged in that it is set in an area that still retains a significant amount of original biodiversity.   It is also just close enough to Rio de Janeiro city and its environs to make a day outing, an overnight stay or longer visit easily viable.

The factors that contribute to the biodiversity are various including; area of remaining forest cover, a forested gradient and fundamentally an understanding local community, be it land owners, farmers or the local population.    We started our conservation programmes 20 years ago with international support as funding within Brazil was virtually non-existent. Today we see the fruit of what we planted and the results today of every programme speak for themself.

Possibly the best thing about REGUA is that there are so many things to do, it has an exciting aura around it as ever more people are visiting and we can show positive results. The forests are returning the hillsides and valley, the biodiversity is improving, more land is put into set aside, more visitors and the community are learning and approving of our actions and we are getting bolder with our convictions.

Restored landscape (© Sue Healey)

So, although Raquel and I are getting older, we are keener than ever to gain improved results.   Through sharing experiences and knowledge, your visit helps us stride firmly towards the future.

A huge thank you to our UK volunteers, Lee, Rachel, Sue, and to Alan for having been champion king pin for so many years, and now Stuart who together with our mother charity BART and its Trustees endorse our actions and want to help us reach further towards the future.

On both sides of the Atlantic, we have marvellous teams and Raquel and I can firmly say that your determined support has made the difference!

If you would like to meet our UK Volunteer Team they will be at the British Bird Fair, Rutland Water, 17th-19th August, 2018.   Pop along and say hello, Marquee 1 stand 37

New damselfly species discovered at REGUA by Tom Kompier

A new damselfly to science – Forcepsioneura regua sp. nov. (©Tom Kompier)

We are delighted to announce that a new Damselfly species for science of the Forcepsioneura genus found at REGUA by Tom Kompier has been named Forcepsioneura regua sp. after the reserve. This is one of two new damselfly species described by Dr. Ângelo Pinto with Tom as co-author in their paper In honor of conservation of the Brazilian Atlantic Forest: description of two new damselflies of the genus Forcepsioneura discovered in private protected areas (Odonata: Coenagrionidae), published in the zoological journal Zoologia.

Tom’s contribution to our knowledge of dragonflies and damselflies has been magnificent and provides valuable evidence of the importance of this reserve. He started his research in 2012, making several visits during the varying Neotropical seasons, travelling from the Netherlands to REGUA throughout 2013 and identifying 204 species in this region. Tom was supported by Dr. Ângelo Pinto and Professor Alcimar Carvalho of the Natural History Museum/UFRJ. This resulted in the publication of A Guide to the Dragonflies and Damselflies of the Serra dos Orgaos, South-eastern Brazil (see details on our publications page).

The principle difference between dragonflies and damselflies is the position of the wings when resting. Dragonfly wings lie transversal and damselfly wings lie flat alongside their abdomen. 204 species have been recorded at the reserve and REGUA hosts annual visits to see the odonate and in an eight day visit it is possible to see at least 160 species!

Congratulations and thank you Tom for the magnificent contribution your work has given us and you have inspired us to continue to develop studies in ants, butterflies and spiders.

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.

Black-fronted Piping Guan Reintroduction – update

The story of the reintroduction of Black-fronted Piping-Guan (Aburria jacutinga) at REGUA continues.

Alecsandra Tassoni,  is SAVE Brasil’s Black-Fronted-Piping-Guan project coordinator and will be visiting REGUA to supervise the arrival of the birds.

Black-fronted Piping guan / Aburria Jacutinga

The two females and one male come from a captive-breeding project in Paraná state. Their health tests were undertaken at UENF (Universidade Estadual Norte Fluminense) in Rio de Janeiro state prior to their transfer to São Paulo where they are currently being monitored.

Scanning and observation are the techniques used to study their behaviour which include assessing their food demands.  There will also be predator training to ensure the birds react naturally to predators once they leave their release pen.

The Black-Fronted-Piping-Guan reintroduction project at REGUA is funded by ‘O Boticário’ cosmetic company which is a long- standing Birdlife International partner.

REGUA looks forward to the next exciting part of the story.

Photograph published with the kind permission of SAVE Brasil and O Boticário Foundation.

Rufous-sided Crake

Rufous-sided Crake (© REGUA)

The Rufous-sided Crake (Laterallus melanophaius) is one of my favourite wetland bird species.   Walking around the wetlands, if one hears a shrill resembling a rising crescendo, you can be sure that this little bird is quite close, yet very hidden.

To see it is quite another matter.   The Rufous-sided Crake’s distribution is limited to Brazil and bordering countries, and though it’s considered “least concern”,  not much is known about it as it is so incredibly secretive.

They are best found if you are walking around the wetlands early morning or late afternoon when if you are quiet, you can get good views of this bird as it scuttles across from one lake to another or watch as it probes around for small insects to eat.

Sometimes they forage in pairs and move around very quickly.   The colours are gorgeous and when a little light catches the rufous feathers, it gleams.

What a memorable sight!!

Scaled Antbird

Scaled Antbird  ( (Drymophila squamata) is a superb Atlantic Rainforest endemic species that can be seen along most mid elevation trails at REGUA making its plaintive call and hopping from branch to branch in the low vegetation.

In spite of its the male having monochrome colours the visual effect it creates as it hops in the undergrowth is startling, indeed the female, who shares similar patterning, but with dark brown buff and hints of cinnamon is equally attractive.   They can often be found feeding in pairs or small family groups as they search for insects and spiders in the forest.

Scaled Antbird (© Adilei Carvalho da Cunha)

Our guests can be sure to gasp in appreciation – REGUA bird guide Adilie Carvalho da Cunha recently took this photograph.

Although its status is classed of ‘least concern’ as it is fairly common throughout its range, having protected areas such as REGUA are vital to ensure its continued healthy population.

We shall keep our eyes on them!!

Sãn Paulo Birdfair/Avistar

The Sao Paulo Birdfair held at the Butantã Gardens has to be one of the greatest venues to attend in South America, if not the Americas.    It is just teeming with bird guides, exciting news, conservation projects and photographers.   The date is always mid-May and run singlehandedly by Gustavo “Guto” Carvalho and his wonderful team, he brings together the best of the birding world in Brazil.

Nicholas and Raquel at Avistar (© REGUA)

Butantã is world famous for producing snake serum and the Gardens holds the marquis full of stands.   REGUA has one small stand that is shared with other Rio birders and this makes for one of the most popular venues.

We get to meet up with the birders, guides and tour companies to share news and comment on recent activities.   Everyone is a member of a big extended family and we leave feeling fully revived and firing on all cylinders.  The photograph shows Nicholas and Raquel with just a few of the people they met this year.

Already looking forward to next year’s venue.

If you want to meet up with Guto, he will be at the UK Birdfair this August  – our UK Team look forward to seeing him there.

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.

 

Ian Thompson visits REGUA

Last week REGUA received Igor Camacho in the company of Ian Thompson, Conservation director for The Nature Conservancy, Brazil to successfully see the Shrike-like Cotinga amongst many local specialities.

Ian’s stay provided us with the opportunity to discuss our own objectives and plans.   We understand that most International agencies prefer providing funds to establish parks in Partner countries as opposed to supporting local NGOs buying land.

Nicholas with Ian Thompson and Igor Camacho (© REGUA)

The former takes a fraction of the cost but on the other hand,  NGOs understand the importance of engaging at local level, with their local communities, providing employment and raising awareness, all as a result of their own personal commitment.

Though decreeing parks is an important step taken by Governments, often those areas become “paper parks” allowing occupation, hunting and farming to continue.    Nature’s protection can be hard to enforce in these situations and NGOS are squeezed out of their stewardship role.