MAAP #55: New 2017 “Hurricane Winds” in Peruvian Amazon

In the previous MAAP #54, we described the phenomenon of natural forest loss due to “hurricane winds,” showing several examples from 2016 in the Peruvian Amazon. Strong winds from these localized storms can knock down hundreds of acres of forest at a time.

In January 2017, GLAD tree loss alerts indicated two new hurricane wind events in the southern Peruvian Amazon (Madre de Dios region). Below, we show high-resolution images of these cases. The first is a large hurricane wind event that knocked down 780 acres (Image 55a). The second is an event of 185 acres that took place within a forestry concession (Image 55b).

Image 55a: Data: Planet
Image 55a: Data: Planet


Image 55b: Data: Planet
Image 55b: Data: Planet

New conservation area established: Over 11,000 acres of forest protected

An area equivalent to over 8,000 football fields in the heart of the Amazon rainforest is now protected. After years of work supporting the Association of Young Conservationists of Alto Pilcomayo (AJCAP), ACA has helped declare the area of Alto Pilcomayo in the Peruvian Amazon as a protected conservation area.

What makes this new conservation area unique is that it is not owned by a single individual, but rather by the AJPAC association, an organization devoted to conserving the area. Alto Pilcomayo is now a territory where anyone in the AJPAC association can carry out conservation, research, and educational projects in the area as long as the purpose of those projects is to protect the biological diversity in the rainforest.

Alto Pilcomayo is located to the east of the city of Cusco, where the Andes mountains meet the Amazon rainforest. Many endemic species, such as woolly monkeys, Spectacled bears, and many species of amphibians, live in the forest. In addition, a wide variety of orchids bloom here. This area is also a crucial water source to 5,000 people living in the nearby valley of Kosñipata.

Improving Jaguar Perceptions in the Bolivian Amazon

Jaguars are indicative of a healthy forest; as apex predators, they play a significant role in controlling the populations of other species which helps maintain balance in the food chain and environment. However, in many of the communities surrounding the Manuripi National Amazon Wildlife Reserve in the Bolivian Amazon, jaguars were not perceived in a positive light as the communities experienced attacks on some of their livestock. Thus we launched a project to help address these conflicts: “Human-Jaguar Conflict in the Bolivian Amazon: A participatory Approach to Changing Attitudes and Behaviors”, aimed at better understanding and reducing human-jaguar conflicts.


Project team conducting interviews in the Tacana II communitiesWe interviewed 169 people from five communities inside the reserve and 137 people from three communities in the surrounding Tacana II territory to evaluate the level of human-jaguar conflicts. From the information gathered from the interviews, we developed educational activities to increase knowledge and reduce the negative perception of jaguars in adults and children within these communities. 


We organized six educational and outreach activities in five targeted communities inside the Manuripi. Around 100 people attended our activities in the communities while activities in the schools educated around 90 children. One of the workshops we organized was “Methods to Reduce Large Cats Attacks on Cattle”, with support from the Cattle Rancher Association of Pando and participation from both the NGO Panthera and a Bolivian veterinary products company, LAFAR. The seminar was well-attended by cattle ranchers, veterinarian students, local university staff, and local Pando Government officials, so much so that the Cattle Ranchers Association subsequently agreed to search for funding to apply Communities pledge to work for the coexistence with jaguars according to the action plan discussed and signed in the community meetingssome of the innovative, forest-friendly methods presented there to reduce cattle predation in pilot ranches. 


Additionally, Amazon Conservation invited a Brazilian expert in human-wildlife conflict, Dr. Silvio Marchini, to present the course “Human Dimensions of Wildlife Conservation” to the Environmental Agency of Pando and the University of Pando. Those who attended this five-day course left with both theoretical and practical understanding of how to improve the management of natural resources and livestock in a way that alleviated pressure on jaguar populations. 


Rangers and the MNAWR team commit to work for the human-Jaguar coexistenceOur post-events questionnaire revealed improvement in beliefs, perception, attitudes and tolerance. After the community workshops both in schools and the community, the project seemed to have had a significant impact on the project participants. The risk perception towards jaguars reduced by 10%, while the tolerance and positive perceptions have increased in approximately 18% in the communities involved in the project. This is a great first step in changing the long-held beliefs individuals have of jaguars, to help the long-term conservation of this threatened species.


These communities have also agreed on an action to plan to reduce conflicts. Through a framework that encouraged community participation, we developed 3 Action Plans for reducing human-jaguar conflict, and almost % of community members formally committed to implementing them in their forest homes. Both the course and workshop received positive feedback as well as raised awareness and interest among students, government staff, and cattle ranchers, chipping away at myths to help reduce human-jaguar conflicts.


Biggest Year world record holder Arjan Dwarshuis raves about birding in Peru with Amazon Conservation

Last year Arjan Dwarshuis set a new world record for the highest number of birds observed in a single calendar year: an astonishing 6,841 bird species observed in 40 different countries (about 65% of the world’s species!). Of all those countries, Arjan named Peru as the number one destination for birding. “Hands down,” he says about his choice “…we saw 1,001 species in 24 days – a record within a record! 577 were new for the Biggest Year. It’s also the landscape, culture, people.”

Discovering Villa Carmen’s bamboo specialists

I discovered my passion for birds years ago while researching macaws in the Peruvian rainforest in Tambopata, one of the most biodiverse spots on the planet with a wide variety of habitats and around 550 bird species. Among the variety of habitats found there, the most amazing to me was the bamboo forest, one of the largest bamboo patches of the entire Tambopata area, and also a favorite of the late Ted Parker. Specialists like the Rufous-headed Woodpecker, Manu Antbird, Goeldi’s Antbird, and the Red-billed Scythebill could be seen in a day’s hike. I had not seen such a diverse array of bamboo specialists since, until I visited Villa Carmen birding lodge last year while guiding for Field Guides.