“I have been insulted. I have been threatened. But here I stand to protect my forest.”

Flor Rumayna’s story is one of strength in the face of adversity and of understanding that without protecting nature, we can’t thrive.

Deep in the Amazon rainforest of Peru, Flor and her husband Gilberto have been running this forest-friendly lodge for many years now, right on the edge of Huitoto Lake. The lush Amazonian forest surrounding the lake is the main draw for adventurers looking to experience nature firsthand. 

But this is not paradise. 

Flor’s life has been threatened many times. This region is particularly affected by illegal activities like gold mining and logging, and because Flor has kept her forest pristine, many try to take its natural resources by force. 

Flor and her family have been fighting to protect this forest with all they have – but it hasn’t been enough. So, with the support of people like you, Friend of the Amazon, we stepped in to help.

Our Southwest Amazon Drone Center is training local landowners, indigenous communities, students, and government officials to use cutting-edge technology like satellite imagery, smartphone apps, and drones to monitor and stop deforestation. We provide locals the technology, knowledge, legal support and connections so they can safely and effectively take action on the ground.

 Flor is one of the first women in Peru to be certified as a drone pilot. With our support – and yours – she is leading the path for others to take charge of conservation in a safe and effective way.

Joining forces with neighbors? Think twice!

The russet-backed oropendola (Psarocolius angustifrons) is one of the most common and widespread of the oropendola passerine birds in the Amazon. They are mostly dull brown with rufescent rump and olive tone to head. This species has three subspecies: P. a. astrocastaneus, on the western Andean slope; P. a. alfredi in the eastern Andean subtropical forest; and P. a. angustifrons in Amazonia. These subspecies differ primarily in bill and face coloration and vocalizations. During the breeding season, they are seen arduously building their characteristic basket-like nest that hang from tree branches in riparian and second-growth habitats. These closed nests keep their eggs and chicks protected from predators.









Russet-backed oropendola (Psarocolius
angustifrons) and violacious jay (Cyanocorax violaceus) scaring away intruders. PC: Tom Matia

The violaceous jay (Cyanocorax violaceus) is a colorful and gregarious member of the crow family of northern South America. This jay species is predominantly dark violet-blue, with a black facial mask. The violaceous jay can be found in a variety of forest habitats, including degraded forest, but is especially common along riparian corridors and forest edges. They are omnivorous and can be seen eating fruits, insects and bird and reptile eggs.

A great contrast is easily noticed between the species: some think that the call of the russet-backed oropendola sounds like water drops, while that of the violaceous jay strikes some as similar to a car horn. The species also have similarities: they are conspicuous resident and widely distributed species in the Amazon.

Brown capuchin (Cebus apella) might look cute but
they are fierce predators. | PC Claudia Rohr

These species have something else in common: confrontations with brown capuchin monkeys! Brown capuchins (Cebus apella) feed mostly on fruits and invertebrates, but from time to time enjoy a meal of bird eggs and chicks. Quite often, a group of these monkeys can be seen climbing up the trees right outside the office at Los Amigos, where the oropendolas and jays are nesting close to each other. When the brown capuchins arrive, adults of both bird species first make their presence known with their characteristic calls. When the monkeys draw close to the nests, the oropendolas and jays cooperatively try to chase them away. These encounters conclude with either the monkeys leaving empty-handed or the birds suffering broken nests and lost eggs.

The striking cooperation between these bird species is short-lived. Jays will try to take eggs and chicks from other bird nests, including fiercely defended russet-backed oropendola nests.  For the oropendolas and violaceous jays, the expression “the enemy of my enemy is my friend” is applicable only when the common enemy is visible.


MAAP #95: Oil Palm Baseline for The Peruvian Amazon

In previous reports, we have documented that oil palm is one of the deforestation drivers in the Peruvian Amazon (MAAP #41, #48). However, the full extent of this sector’s deforestation impact is not well known.

High-resolution satellite image of oil palm plantation in Peruvian Amazon. Imagery: DigitalGlobe. Click to enlarge.
High-resolution satellite image of oil palm plantation in Peruvian Amazon. Imagery: DigitalGlobe. Click to enlarge.

A newly published study assessed the deforestation impacts and risks posed by oil palm expansion in the Peruvian Amazon. Here, we review some of the key findings.

We first present a Base Map of oil palm in the Peruvian Amazon, highlighting the plantations that have caused recent deforestation. We then show two zooms of the most important oil palm areas, located in the central and northern Peruvian Amazon, respectively.

In summary, we document over 86,600 hectares (214,000 acres) of oil palm, of which we have confirmed the deforestation of at least  31,500 hectares for new plantations (equivalent to nearly 59,000 American football fields).

In other words, yes oil palm does cause Amazon deforestation, but not nearly as much as Asia.