A July 2006 trip
to Pantanal by Norman
Quote: I traveled to the Pantanal in Brazil as a volunteer with Earthwatch. There I participated in field research and observed a wide variety of animals.
The Pantanal is home to over 3.000 species of plants and well over 1,000 species of animals. The climate is warm in the summer and moderate in the winter. During my stay I experienced temperatures climbing briefly to 90 degrees F. in the afternoon, but quickly dropping in the evening with lows around 60 degrees F.
During my 2 week stay I saw many animals. To name a few: caimans, capybaras, anteaters, macaws, toucans, peccaries, bats, crab eating foxes, deer, and numerous birds. A highpoint of the trip was seeing the giant river otters swimming and playing.
To join the peccary expedition see: www.realgap.co.uk/Brazil20ConservationI participated in a Conservation Research Initiative through Earthwatch, www.earthwatch.org
I participated in research studies of the aquatic environment, caimans, peccaries, and bats. I was part of a 10 person team from the U.S. and England.
For more information on the Pantanal Wikipedia http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pantanal
Hotel | "Pousada Ararauna"
The lodge that served as our base was the Pousada Arauna. It is a wonderful place that would rival any hotel, no less being over 200 miles form ‘civilization.’ The lodge does serve tourists who travel to the Pantanal to experience its beauty and biodiversity.
The apartments are air-conditioned each with a private bathroom. The grounds are beautiful. Animals roam in and out on a regular basis. There is a screened outside room, and open covered area with hammocks, and a swimming pool. The meals are served buffet style with several choices at every meal and plenty to eat. The Brazilian food was quite good, prepared fresh for every meal. Have you ever had piranha soup?
The Pousada is owned by UNIDERP, University for the development of the State and the Pantanal region, which has a classroom, laboratory, small library, and even a one-room museum exhibiting indigenous items. The Pousada has tours available from there on foot, by observation truck or jeep, or by horseback. All great ways to experience the plants and animals of this special environment.
The staff all live on the property and were wonderful. They quickly learned everyone’s name and tried the best to converse with you. The native language is Portuguese.Limited phone and Internet access was available.Pousada Araraunawww.ararauna.com.br Pousada Ararauna and volunteeringwww.realgap.co.uk/uploadImages/RGPantanal_Conservation_and_Research.pdf
Member Rating 5 out of 5 on November 7, 2006
Pousada Ararauna at Santa Emilia Farm
55 (67) 3348-8191
The research objectives were to provide populations estimates of the peccaries and feral pigs, estimate seasonal and annual range areas using radio telemetry, and document their environmental role in the region. This required safely capturing peccaries for placing radio collars and identification chips and then tracking them using radio telemetry.
The peccaries were captured in both large fenced in pens about 6 feet by 6 feet and in single metal enclosures. Corn and native fruits were placed in the pen to attract the animals. The door closed with a delicate trigger mechanism that was set up above the bait and attached to the door with a string above the ground. Alexine, the researcher, said this is what the natives use in the Amazon. It took skill to set the triggering string.
The traps were checked daily. Doing this required traveling to remote locations which required a boat, horses, or walking depending on the area. When a peccary was caught, the team went to work on learning about the animal. The peccary was anesthetized using a jab stick with a syringe. The animal quickly went to sleep and then the team went to work. While sedated the peccary was weighed, several size measurements taken, the age determined my examining its teeth, blood taken, and the final step was inserting a radio chip the size of a grain of rice under its skin so if the same animal was captured it could easily be identified. Some animals were given a radio collar for tracking their movements. This was all accomplished quickly, then the peccary was returned to the enclosure. The animal was released many hours later, the time given to be sure it was fully alert after the anesthesia. This process did not harm the animal.
Of course, most days peccaries were not captured. But the research went on tracking their movements with radios. This provided important information on their habits and ranges.To learn more about peccaries visit http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Peccary
To join a peccary expedition see: www.realgap.co.uk/Brazil20Conservation
As part of the Earthwatch expedition I participated in bats research in the Pantanal. Of course this was a late night activity. We would leave the Pousada at 5pm and drive to the location where we would set out the mist nets hoping to capture bats. The mist nets are very fine with 4 horizontal sections with pockets at the bottom of each section. The bats would fly into the nets and drop down into the pockets. Then the researchers would have the challenge of removing the bat from the nets. We would check the nets every half hour, and keep the nets up until midnight. We would capture 8 to 16 bats a night, though one evening they caught 37.
Once captured, each bat was placed in a cloth bag and left there for 30 minutes in the hope it would defecate in the bag. This would give the researchers clues to its diet. Then the bat was removed and ‘processed.’ It was identified, weighed, measured, parasites taken off the bats, and its age determined by placing the wing over a flashlight and looking at its bones. Then it was tagged with a small necklace with beaded numbers for identification. Finally it was released, no worse for wear. During my nights we captured insectivorous, herbivorous, and carnivorous bats. Yes, we even had a few vampire bats. It was an amazing experience to see these animals up close and learn about them first-hand.
Cooper City, Florida