Great news! Over the past few months Karina and I have been working on a funding application to Lush Cosmetics who fund small projects for the benefit of, among other things, the environment and conservation. Well after a nail biting few weeks since the application was submitted I am delighted to report that we were successful and Lush have been kind enough to award us the full amount we asked for. YIPPEEEEEE!!!!!! This is such a great result as we are now able to buy some seriously cool scientific equipment, on the list of things we now have funding for are: bat detectors, sound recording equipment and computer analysis software, enough material to make at least 10 more pitfall traps, materials for community outreach events and the one I think we are all the most excited about CAMERA TRAPS. WOO HOO! So soon we’ll be able to see and document those elusive large mammals/birds we suspect are in the reserve but never quite manage to see! Now if that doesn’t entice you to come and spend some time with us nothing will!
Speaking of which if you do want to come and volunteer with us but are struggling with financing your trip, here is a possible solution. The Winston Churchill award is a scheme for UK residents over the age of 18 who wish to visit a project overseas to gain a wider understanding of their chosen field. The participant is then expected to return to the UK with this new found knowledge and share this information with their organisation or community. There are several categories that you can apply to so be sure to apply for one that is relevant to the work we are doing here in Paraguay! For more information on this please visit: http://www.wcmt.org.uk/
I have a few other bits and pieces to tell you about. I’ve had some more exciting finds in my pitfall traps. The most interesting being the discovery of blind snakes! These are notoriously difficult to find because they are almost entirely fossoral (live underground) but it would appear that they must come to the surface sometimes because I have found them in 2 different pitfall trap lines. Naturally I was delighted to find the first one and even more so when I got a second the very next day. However “disaster” struck when the second individual escaped in my bedroom! Not only did I kick myself that I’d lost it, I kicked myself even harder when it was discovered that the first was an undescribed species and from the brief glance I had of the second I thought it was the same - AAAGH how frustrating! These blind snakes are completely harmless by the way (their best line of defence is to poo on you!) however our cook didn’t know this when a week later she discovered our escapee on Luke’s door step. I wasn’t in but I’m sure I heard her scream from the Atlantic forest! All of this happened while I was out checking my traps - only to find yet another blind snake! So that morning I went from being one down to two up and the best part of it all is, the one that escaped and then reappeared is actually a different species to the others and is a new record for Laguna Blanca!
It’s not all been funding and new snakes tho, one of the tasks that I’ve spent a good part of the last fortnight on has been updating all of our health and safety documents. I have a fair bit of experience in this through my previous work as a volunteer co-ordinator so was happy to review all of our paperwork. I am pleased to report that despite being in Paraguay we are now up to speed with UK health and safety legislation and standards. But I have to admit it was a pretty dull job!
Phew after all that I need a holiday, which is lucky really as I’m off to Rio de Janeiro at the end of the week. 3 weeks of sun, sea and samba here I come Woo Hoo! I’m so lucky to have Paraguay as a base with such great locations surrounding it – I really don’t understand how so few people have discovered this gem of a country!
See you in a month everybody- now where did I put that sun cream?