Date: September 13, 2013
Author: Julie Ghrist, Art of Conservation
Allison, Dr. Lucy, and I had a few quick hours of sleep at the pretty Cara Lodge in Georgetown before our charter flight took us into the interior of Guyana. This remote and sparsely populated landscape is where in the 16th and 17th centuries Europeans believed that there was a place of immense wealth known as El Dorado. Searches for this treasure wasted countless lives and drove at least one man to suicide. Now El Dorado is referred to as a source of untold riches somewhere in the Americas. At the bottom of this post you’ll find Edgar Allen Poe’s poem where he makes reference of El Dorado being located ‘Over the mountains of the Moon’.
Allison and Lucy boarding Trans Guyana Airways charter flight to the Northern Rupununi region of Guyana.
A bit tongue-in-cheek, we were not searching for pots of gold – instead we were on a quest to find eager schoolchildren ready to engage in AoC’s one-health conservation education activities as well as view heaps of beautiful animals in their own biodiversity-rich landscape. Guess what? We found it all and more!
Approaching Karanambu Lodge in North Rupununi from the plane. Photo courtesy of Lucy Spelman.
As I mentioned before, Art of Conservation is honored to have been invited by Lucy and the Trust to Karanambu. Lucy has shared stories about Karanambu for all the years I have known her. And Allison and I were really looking forward to meeting the famous Giant River Otter Lady, Ms. Diane McTurk!
The legendary Ms. Diane McTurk greets us. We are joined by Dr. Ilze. (From left to right: Lucy, Allison, Ilze, Diane McTurk)
Ms. McTurk was born at Karanambu. Karanambu is a 100-square mile former cattle ranch her family owned that is now a Managed Resource Protected Area or at least headed that way thanks to the collaborative effort of the Karanambu Trust and partners. Diane is known for her work in rehabilitating orphaned giant river otters to the wild since 1985. The pelt trade, natural trauma, and people taking them as pets are the main reasons why she has ended up with more than 40 otters.
Allison with Diane McTurk, the famous Giant River Otter Lady or Auntie Di as she is known by all the local Makushi Amerindians.
Before continuing to the lodge, Dr. Lucy was asked to make a quick house call to a sick bull calf. Marvin, a Karanambu staff member, was pleased to receive Lucy’s advise and after a few days the calf was feeling better.
Lucy and Diane treating Marvin’s sick calf.
This fabulous toucan is the first bird I saw in Guyana.
There may be as many as 600 species of birds in this area. The number of all animals species found here is high and includes species that are rare in other parts of Central and South America. Perhaps this is because of an integration of 4 ecosystem types: wetlands, savannas, rivers, and forests.
Salvador de Caires invites us onto his boat.
Our final stop for the day – Karanambu Lodge – requires a boat to get there. Salvador de Caires, who with his beautiful wife Andrea run the lodge with the nicest of hospitality, gets us there safely. More on Andrea and Salvador in my next post.
Lucy and Diane.
This is just a glance at the very beginning of our trip. I have lots more to share with you. Please stay in touch. And here is the poem.
Eldorado by Edgar Allan Poe
A gallant knight,
In sunshine and in shadow,
Had journeyed long,
Singing a song,
In search of Eldorado.
But he grew old-
This knight so bold-
And o’er his heart a shadow
Fell as he found
No spot of ground
That looked like Eldorado.
And, as his strength
Failed him at length,
He met a pilgrim shadow-
“Shadow,” said he,
“Where can it be-
This land of Eldorado?”
“Over the Mountains
Of the Moon,
Down the Valley of the Shadow,
Ride, boldly ride,”
The shade replied-
“If you seek for Eldorado!”
Photograph by Jessica Karcz, Your Shot
This Month in Photo of the Day: The Stories Behind Your Shots
After snorkeling with my family in the breathtaking coral reefs of Roatan, Honduras, I sat outside the balcony of the cruise ship we were traveling on to admire the life and beauty of the ocean. I took the photo with a Nikon D3100 with an 18-55mm lens while the boat was lifting the anchors of the cruise ship just before we sailed away. —Jessica Karcz
I attended a meeting tonight hosted by Bay Area Tropical Forest Network and Rainforest Action Network. Leila Salazar-Lopez of Amazon Watch gave a talk about Belo Monte, a dam that will block the Xingu River in Brazil and threatens to displace thousands of residents including indigenous communities. It will also cause irreparable damage to the Amazon’s fauna and flora inhabitants, its rich and complex ecosystem, and will massively impact global climate change.
The Borneo Project, students from Stanford University and many others attended. There was plenty to talk about not only within Brazil but other regions like Peru and Indonesia where the MSc in Primate Conservation at Oxford Brookes University including Neotropical Primate Conservation, Little Fireface Project, Selamatkan Yaki and International Animal Rescue (just to name a few) is dominating right now.
It is great to be getting more involved in conservation here in the San Francisco Bay Area! I would like to recognize my countless colleagues fighting hard on the ground. Keep up the great work! I look forward to facilitating partnerships.
Please take a look at these videos about Belo Monte, a significant dam project that is in dire need of attention at this crucial time.
The Amazon: A Global Treasure
Rainforests sustain us. They help regulate the global climate and are vital to maintaining the earth’s fragile balance. The Amazon rainforest is the world’s largest and most biodiverse tropical rainforest, covering an area larger than the continental United States. It houses one-third of the Earth’s plant and animal species and produces one-fifth of all its fresh water.
Nearly 400 distinct indigenous peoples depend on the Amazon rainforest for their physical and cultural survival. At current rates of deforestation, nearly 50 percent of the Amazon could be lost or severely degraded by the year 2020, and the vast majority will no longer be in a pristine state.
With global deforestation contributing 20–25 percent of all greenhouse gas emissions, Amazon Watch and our indigenous partners are providing a service to all humanity as we together seek to defend the rainforest. Each of us can take action. We may be the last generation that has a chance to protect this precious gem of our world’s cultural and ecological heritage – an irreplaceable source of life and inspiration.
Amazon Watch is a nonprofit organization founded in 1996 to protect the rainforest and advance the rights of indigenous peoples in the Amazon Basin. They partner with indigenous and environmental organizations in campaigns for human rights, corporate accountability and the preservation of the Amazon’s ecological systems.
They envision a world that honors and values cultural and biological diversity and the critical contribution of tropical rainforests to our planet’s life support system. They believe that indigenous self-determination is paramount, and see that indigenous knowledge, cultures and traditional practices contribute greatly to sustainable and equitable stewardship of the Earth. They strive for a world in which governments, corporations and civil society respect the collective rights of indigenous peoples to free, prior and informed consent over any activity affecting their territories and resources. They commit, in the spirit of partnership and mutual respect, to support indigenous allies in their efforts to protect life, land, and culture in accordance with their aspirations and needs.