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martes, 20 de enero de 2015

Vivi's Internship

In the third year at my university we have the brilliant opportunity to take credits through an internship in community outreach in a developing country. I, of course, could not miss this opportunity and started looking for internships in South America, my native contingent that I love so much. Para La Tierra immediately offered me different options for my project and so I decided to travel to Paraguay. As part of my project I helped Becca and Jorge in their school visits and the starting of Futuro Paraguayo. Having the kids at the reserve and seeing their enthusiasm for nature was one of my highlights at Laguna Blanca. Starting from November, with the arrival of the first tourist groups I started taking surveys on the weekends, trying to find out what sort of tourist comes to the reserve and what their interests are. That meant working on Sundays while everyone else was enjoying free time, but sometimes I met interesting people and had a nice chat. I soon realised that Paraguayans don’t know much about nature and often aren’t interested, which makes it exciting when someone does! And those are the people I wanted to reach. People have to be fed with information, they don’t look for it, that is my main discovery with the interviews and the ecological station at Laguna Blanca has lot of potential for that. During the other days I followed other interns with their projects, learning about amphibians and reptiles, small mammals, birds, and bigger mammals (monkeys) at the reserve. I had the chance to expand my knowledge that way, and I am really grateful to everyone that helped me achieve that! During my last month I helped Becca with her project, together with Lore (a volunteer from Belgium) we went on daily walks in the Atlantic forest looking for the Capuchins. We ended up creating the “Wospers”, an ingenuous device for cutting down the wasp nests from the branches along our trails, which made our days adventurous. I can say it was a successful internship, it was good for my career, for myself (you grow a lot during these experiences!) and for my friend network, I made very important friends that I hopefully will see again somewhere. I send you all much love from Uruguay, where I am still trying to let go and get ready for a new, exciting semester in Zürich, Switzerland! CIAAAOOO Vivi Vivi Magistra Switzerland September-December 2014

Foraging Critters...my internship at PLT

Hi there, my name is Abi and I’m just finishing up my internship here at Para la Tierra. I’ve been asked to write a blog post about my time here. My project was originally going to compare the foraging habits of small mammals in areas of high and low human-presence; using seeds trays to determine the giving up density (GUD) and from that the perceived risk. Unfortunately, in the areas where that was possible, there weren’t enough small mammals foraging the trays for me to get sufficient results. Luckily, another intern (Holly) was regularly catching a variety of small mammals in Sherman traps as part of her project studying how a section of the Cerrado is recovering after a fire. Since wildlife living in a recovering habitat is often more vulnerable to the environment, I decided to look at abiotic factors, such as the average temperature and whether or not that affects the foraging levels each day, and I am currently analysing these results. Drinks around the fire and film nights were great fun in the evenings, as were the Saturday night parties. These parties could be birthday parties, or parties which charge entry to raise money for chicken coops or hospital bills. The people from local towns and villages set up a patch of land with speakers and lights, sell beer and dance. As a break from the reserve (and to renew the date stamp on my tourist visa) I’ve been on three trips around the country. The first was a trip to the capital city Asuncion with Holly, India and Vivi, the other three Interns. On the 18th November we went on a PLT group trip to the Chaco. The Chaco is described by some as a ‘green hell’ due to the extreme heat and humidity but despite this, or perhaps because of this, the wildlife is so uniquely varied and rich that we simply had to go for a look. We saw amazing wildlife that is unlikely to be seen on the reserve, the highlights for me included: Capybara, flamingos, armadillos, racoon, crab-eating fox, white-lipped peccaries and a fantastic number of bird species. My third trip took me to Iguazu falls in Argentina with India and Lore to see one of the wonders of the natural world. The falls were unbelievable, and we also got to see Itaipu dam, the second largest hydroelectric dam in the world.