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jueves, 20 de septiembre de 2012

Mbaracayu

Hey Everybody! I’d like to quickly give you an update of how things are going here at RNLB before telling you about the amazing opportunity I had this past weekend. We’ve had two new arrivals since the last post: Airell, a volunteer from Canada who will help with the primate project, and Ruby, an intern from New Zealand who’s helping us out by taking on the bat inventory. Ruby and I have been prepping to start up the inventory tomorrow night and with all the poles and nets sorted and we are both anxious to start catching some bats. Georgia has begun her sleep-site study which has meant that she’s been walking out to the forest before sunrise to try to catch any of the capuchins that are having a lie-in. The house is slowly filling up again and everyone is getting involved in all the projects. This past week, I had the amazing opportunity to visit a neighboring nature reserve in Paraguay for a weekend: The Mbaracayu Forest Reserve. The refuge is located on the border of Paraguay and Brazil just 5 hours from RNLB and is a whopping 64,400 hectares. The immensity of the forest is immediately noticeable as you drive toward the reserve; as we drove past the soy fields and cattle ranches that are the unfortunate but typical Paraguayan landscapes, we crested a hill and what lay in front of us was a never ending ocean of forest. Once inside the refuge, the forest’s size remained awe-inspiring; we found a tree that was so thick it took five people with arms spread out to ring around the trunk (the tree was 200 years old!). The reserve was founded in 1984 and has an amazing variety of projects going on at all times. The most impressive in my eyes was their work with community outreach and education. They have helped the local populations to not only adapt to the increase in tourists that come to visit the reserve but also to profit from their presence. They also run a high school for girls that focuses on environmental education and female empowerment. The school is completely self-sustaining as they grow most of the food they eat in a garden tended by the students and pay for anything else they need with profits from a student-run chicken coop. Karina, Conce, Jorge and I arrived originally to learn from them about how to run a chicken coop but on arrival we decided to split into two teams to take full advantage of all the projects that were taking place at the time. While Karina and Conce visited the chicken coops, Jorge and I took part in a Tour Guide course that was run by a member of the SENATUR (Servicio Nacional de Turismo). We learned a lot about what it takes to qualify as a nationally recognized Tour Guide as well as a few tricks of the trade. All in all it was an amazing learning experience and we left Mbaracayu not only inspired by the beauty of the forest but also by the versatility of the projects run by those living and working on the site. RNLB has come a long way in the past two and a half years, but seeing the extent of influence the Mbaracayu Forest Refuge has on the nearby communities, it’s clear to me our job is FAR from finished. I know that I returned to Laguna Blanca with a mind full of ideas of what amazing new projects Para La Tierra can get into next, we just need your help to get ‘em done. Joe

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