The Arrival of the BBC in Manu

The Arrival of the BBC in Manu

Posted by Sam Hopkins on 13th Jun 2014

Did any of you happen to catch the first two episodes of 'I Bought A Rainforest'? If not, you can have a watch via the BBC IPlayer link here! It is a fantastic show following Wildlife Cameraman Charlie Hamilton-Jones as he buys 100 acres of Peruvian Rainforest. What's more, the show is filmed in Manu National Park and Biosphere Reserve - site of the 'Amazon Conservation Project' - Some of the project staff are even in it which is pretty exciting news! Below follows a blog from a volunteer who was there whilst filming was taking place. It sounds like a pretty memorable experience!


"The arrival of the BBC crew caused quite a stir, no one knew quite what to expect. Charlie and his two man crew (Aidan and Hector) arrived with loads of boxes and cases of filming equipment and the curiosity of the volunteers and Interns continued to grow. Andy was going to be filming with them and helping them set up camera traps on the trails and in the canopy. Soon huge camera trap systems that made our own camera traps look like children's toys, were strategically positioned along some of the trails.

One morning I set off with researcher Louise to check and re-bait butterfly traps. Little did we realise that our route would take us straight through the area where the BBC crew were setting up a camera trap at the top of a large tree on T7. We arrived at the area to see a motley crew of BBC boys and crees staff crowded around a large tree, with Andy and Charlie about to climb up it. They were wearing matching yellow helmets with the names 'Xyl-I-Am' and 'Phloem-rider' emblazoned on the front in black marker pen. Got the joke yet? Unfortunately for the crew one of our low butterfly traps was positioned just a few meters from where they were standing and they were soon acquainted with the smell of rotten fish bait. Having collected and identified the butterflies from the traps and spread the aroma of rotten fish around the area, we left the BBC crew, Andy, our own rainforest journalist Marcus and staff member Jimmy, to continue with their filming and tree climbing antics.


We were about 500m further down the trail, when Louise slipped on a muddy patch and hurt her ankle. Tears welling up and a look of horror on her face as she realised that the nearest people to go to for help were Andy and the BBC crew. I managed to get her sitting down and hoped that her ankle would be alright after a rest. I really didn't want to have to go and interrupt filming to ask for help! Thankfully it was just a sprain and after a while, the pain subsided and she was able to walk. Disaster averted! We continued on our way but were soon presented by a different challenge. The string from one of the butterfly traps had come undone and was suspended about 3m off the ground, well beyond our reach. If we couldn't get the trap back up it would affect Louise's data. It was time for some ingenious acrobatic work – I stood on Louise's shoulders, using the tree trunk to keep me stable and managed to grab the string. A second disaster averted!

A job well done, we turned back and headed home to the Manu Learning Centre. We passed through the area that the BBC crew had been filming in earlier, the area was eerily quiet and still, without the hustle and bustle of the BBC crew, and Andy. The piles of filming and climbing equipment were gone. The forest had been reclaimed by nature, you would never have known that there had been a crowd of people filming and climbing there just hours before."

It sounds like it was a pretty incredible experience and has certainly drawn attention to the incredibly diverse wildlife reserve of Manu. Staff at the 'Amazon Conservation Project' have also recently launched the #GROWafuture fundraising campaign to help raise money to create long term sustainable income for families in the Peruvian Amazon, whilst also planting and protecting 8,000 trees. The money raised will allow the creation of agroforestry plots for 10 families and will also allow monthly workshops for three years so that local families can be supported - ultimately helping them to become skilled agroforestry farmers and to maximise their productivity. Creating sustainable livelihoods also protects the surrounding rainforest and its wildlife because there is no need to resort to other destructive activities.

This fantastic campaign really needs support, so if you would like to help, please visit their 'Crowdfunder' page here.


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