Volunteering in the Amazon Rainforest Adventure Sightings

Volunteering in the Amazon Rainforest Adventure Sightings

Posted by Sam Hopkins on 11th Jul 2014

Have you ever wondered what sorts of animals you may be abe to encounter whilst volunteering in the amazon rainforest? 'Manu Biosphere Reserve', the location of the fantastic 'Amazon Conservation Project', is one of the most biodiverse locations on the planet, so chances are you will see some pretty incredible and unusual species! Below is a list of 8 animal encounters which volunteers have had whilst on this project - pretty cool if you ask us!

8. 'Large Marge' – "We found an absolutely enormous female Cane Toad (Rhinella Marina) whilst out on a survey. They brought it back to the Manu Learning Centre and it became a bit of a celebrity! It was affectionately named 'Large Marge' and everyone was fascinated by this enormous, grotesque looking creature! Marcus, a rainforest journalist, arrived the next day with his parents and I went running over with 'Large Marge' to introduce her - an interesting first Amazonian wildlife encounter for his parents! The conservation staff and I affectionately teased Freia, one of the Australian volunteers, as she hates Cane Toads. She was certainly not impressed when 'Large Marge' was plonked on top of her head! 'Large Marge' was released back into the forest a few days later".

7. 'Stevie' the horned forest dragon – "On a trip up to Pini Pini, a beautiful horned forest dragon was found. It was brought back to camp to be processed and recorded and we decided on calling it 'Stevie'! We soon found out that Stevie enjoyed sitting on people's heads and in particular, he liked my fellow volunteer Jaime's curly hair, which he could cling on to quite easily (you can see in the photo below). After a few days spent hanging out on people's heads, Stevie was returned to Pini Pini and, after spending a while on a tree by our camp, he scampered his way back into the forest".

6. Tapir – "Whilst out on a night bird transect with researcher Laura, in the very early hours of the morning, we were lucky enough to see a Tapir. We rounded a corner in the path and, just a few metres away, there he was! The magnificent and slightly strange looking creature, with its funny nose and beady eyes, looked at us for a minute. It was startled and began to run away. In its confusion it then turned around and ran back towards us before changing its mind again and crashing off the path into the forest. The following evening, on another night bird transect, a mother and baby Tapir were seen. This was quite a treat for a four week volunteer who had chosen to spend her last night at the Manu Learning Centre out in the forest – something she wouldn't forget in a hurry!"

5. Giant anteater – "Whilst out cutting down bamboo for bamboo traps, fellow volunteer Lars and I were lucky enough to see a rare and elusive Giant Anteater. As anyone who has cut bamboo for traps knows, finding suitable bamboo is a tricky task and hours can be spent wondering around looking for suitable bamboo in good condition. We wondered down a small trail off the main path looking for bamboo and were suddenly confronted by a beautiful Giant Anteater snuffling about – looking for its favourite ant food if I was to hazard a guess! For a while it didn't notice us and carried on snuffling around in the vegetation and leaf litter, but a sudden movement from Lars, who could not resist getting his camera out, sent the magnificent creature scuttling away – what a fantastic moment it was though!"

4. Amazonian Horned Frog – "I was lucky enough to go on an expedition to Manu National Park and was very excited by the assurances that there would be lots of frogs and quite a few species not found within the Manu Learning Centre. I was not disappointed! Some of the volunteers and I were on a night walk and spotted a horned frog just a few minutes after setting off. These frogs sit half buried in leaf litter, ready to open their big mouths and eat any unsuspecting prey that might wander by. They are funny looking things (see the picture below!) and very different to the frog species at the learning centre, so seeing one of these was definitely a big privilege!"

3. Siphlophis Cervinus – "The Common Liana Snake is very rare (despite the name). During a trip up to Pini Pini, Jaime the facilitator found one of these beautiful snakes. He returned to camp with a triumphant grin and gave us a quick peak at the snake which was in a snake bag. At the time, Jaime wasn't even sure what species of snake it was, so it remained in the snake bag until we returned to the learning centre and he was able to identify it. It is the first individual of this species found at the Manu Learning Centre and we believe it is also the first time it has been found in the Manu Biosphere Reserve! What an incredible experience for us all! This species is rarely seen and there are only a handful of records of this species in the 'Madre de Dios' region. The nearest previous record of this species to the MLC, that we know of, is from the neighbouring region of Cusco – all the way back in 1915! This stunning snake is absolutely beautiful and definitely deserves to be in the top three species to see at Manu – if you are lucky enough to see it of course!"

2. Emperor Tamarins – "On an expedition to the Manu National Park, we were lucky enough to see a variety of species that are not found at the Manu Learning Centre. One of them was 'Emperor Tamarin'. These funny little monkeys have very impressive moustaches – giving them a slightly regal appearance! We had just arrived at Romero after a day and half trip down from the learning centre. Facilitator Andy was just about to start a group meeting, when someone caught sight of the Emperor Tamarins amongst the trees near the lodge. Everyone disappeared outside and Andy's meeting was all but forgotten as everyone admired the beautiful little monkeys including a mother and baby."

1. Puma - "I was out on a exploration survey with newbie Intern Zoe. I was absorbed in the task at hand, scanning nearby leaves, branches and leaf litter for any frogs, lizards or snakes. A brief glance down the trail and Zoe and I stopped dead in our tracks. Our torch beams were reflecting off a pair of eyes. Zoe immediately asked me what it was and was clearly convinced that it was a Puma. But to our relief it ran off and the sound of hooved feet was a tell-tale sign that it was in fact a red brocket deer. But seconds later there was another pair of eyes in the same place - just 10m down the transect. This time the eyes looked different, greener and slightly bigger, and when they disappeared there was no sound at all – much more likely to be a Puma slinking away than a red brocket deer. We continued with the transect and saw nothing more. But things were about to get even more interesting. We began another transect and once again I was absorbed in finding frogs. This time I turned around to see Zoe shakily sit down on the floor and whispering the word 'Puma'. I immediately followed her gaze but there was nothing to be seen, the Puma had gone. From our position on the transect we could see 30m down the transect to the path and Zoe had seen the Puma walk along the path past the entrance to the transect. It had apparently glanced in our direction, and carried on its way – what an incredible experience!"

Wow - these all sound like incredible animal encounters don't they?! Thanks must go to the team and volunteers out in Peru who took all of these amazing photos!

If you are interested in adding to these, then why not join the 'Amazon Conservation Project'? Located in Manu, one of the most species rich regions on the planet, this is certainly not a project to miss! If you are interested, please don't hesitate to 'Enquire or Book Now' via our website page here. Alternatively, if you have any more questions about the project or would like to know any more information, please don't hesitate to contact us via email ([email protected]) or phone (+44(0)208 885 4897).


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