Conservation and Sustainable development

Conservation is not possible if rural communities are not involved.

Future birders on Satipo road

Cock of the Rock - by Ruth. Apaya-Calabaza. Satipo road

The kids at the school at Apaya-Calabaza had a painting contest. Here are the winning items. You can easily tell that these kids are fascinated with nature. In the village sling-shots are now prohibited and not sold in the store. This is the place for the future lodge that Adriana with Blue-bande Toucanet and Cock of the RockRainForest Partnership is raising money to. We hope that this contest will both bring necessary funds and awareness so more people visit this wonderful area.

Pampa Hermosa is the district that comprise Mariposa, Calabaza/Apaya and Carrizales on the birding route known as Satipo road which house endemic birds such as Eye-ringed Thistletail, Marcapata Spinetail (weskei race), Fire-throated Metaltail, obscura ssp of Rufous Antpitta, Unstreaked Tit-Tyrant, the undescribed Millpo Tapaculo and access to Black-spectacled Brush-Finch and the undescribed Wren and Thornbird in the Andamarca valley (Mantaro drainage). Birding is simply fantastic with spectacular birds such as Cock of the Rock, Umbrellabird, Golden-headed and Crested Quetzal, Black-chested and Solitary Eagles, Torrent Duck, Fasciated Tiger-Heron, Sunbittern, Lyre-tailed and Swallow-tailed Nightjar, 45 species of Hummingbirds and 53 species of Tanagers. The species composition reminds me very much of Manu road. There is contineous forest habitat from around 1000m to 3600m.
A more complete species list and birding information can be found on Birding Peru

The community is commited to conservation and RainForest Partnership is doing great awareness work here. Right now the project is in fifth  place in the Global Giving Open Green Challange competition. If RP could sail up as a winner, 10000 dollars extra would be granted.

Blue-banded Toucanet by Adriana. Apaya-Calabaza, Satipo road

The money will be used to build a basic community lodge with clean beds and linen and working toilets and showers – as a minimum infrastructure to promote tourism (not only birding) and leave some funding with the community itself. There will also be workshops for the locals to learn to provide food for visiting tourists (hygiene and presentation) and mapping of eco-tourism in general such as waterfalls and cock-of-the-Rock leks. Other projects in a near future include sustainable Butterfly and Orchid farming.

You simply have to visit Satipo road. We shall not only do birding trips there, but also workshops of all type of biodiversity, specific butterfly watching, orchid watching and nature photography trips.  The beds will be implemented immediately in the village school.  There are already clean toilets implemented this year.

Spot less bathroms, assigned and cleaned by students. Photo:  Patricio Prieto

Spot less bathroms, assigned and cleaned by students. Photo: Patricio Prieto

Satipo road goes to Mindo

Below follows the three videos from 2008 when Kolibri Expeditions took three farmers from Pampa Hermosa together with three farmers from Carpish to Mindo in Ecuador. Pampa Hermosa is like Mindo was 10-15 years ago. With this in mind, the farmers now have a vision how the want their valley to develop within the coming years. RainForest Partnerships project and Kolibri Expeditions committment will make this possible – but not without your help.
The videos now have English subtitles thanks to Patricia Gonzales, who kindly helped me. Enjoy!

Satipo road goes to Mindo part one. Arrival and Butterfly garden

Satipo road goes to Mindo part 2. Rafting and Orchid garden

Satipo road goes to Mindo, part 3.  Maria the Antpitta and Angel Paz

Upcoming departures.

It is mainly our new community trip to Satipo road and Carpish that has scheduled departures between September to December. Let us know if you want to visit at other times.

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No gifts please, but consider this..

Gunnar Engblom at InkaTerra Canopy Walkway Reserva Amazonica

Today I am turning 50. The photo is from the canopy walkway at Reserva Amazonica this morning. I am lucky to be in good health and have a loving family and that is really all I want for myself and no gifts. But please consider this. Make a donation to RainForest Partnership and the Satipo road project. That would make me extremely happy. I explained about this project on my recent blog post.  When did you last spend 10 dollars wisely?
It would be great if you could contribute with 10 bucks. RainForest Partnership was number 1 for a week or so, but have now dropped to third place in the Global Giving Green open Challange. There is $10000 extra to be earned for the conservation project if we can make 1st place. And if we get the most donors there is a $4000 bonus.

Thanks a million…..

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Santos Montenegro – The spatuletail kid

Santos Montenegro - the Marvelous Spatuletail Guy

In November 2003 Roger Ahlman came back to Lima after a Kolibri Expeditions trip ecstatic about having seen a lek of Marvelous Spatuletails. Several males dancing in mid-air with their tails over their heads. Santos Montenegro was the local kid (looked a kid but was already 23 at the time), who showed the lek to Roger and has been a protégé of Kolibri Expeditions since. Kolibri Expeditions raised the money so that Santos could purchase the area.

In April 2008 this display was filmed with high speed camera by the BBC for the Attenborough series Life and Santos was the person who guided the film crew to the lek on a property set of for the conservation of Marvelous Spatuletail.

  A sour aftertaste is that the BBC did not make effort to make sure this unique site was conserved for the future and paid Santos less than 300 dollars for the unique footage.  I made a futile intent to write David Attenborough but had CERO response.

Here is an interview I did in November last year with Santos. I hope by sending around this interview it shall be possible to raise the $5000 necessary to make a visitor center and a community sustainable development project at Santos reserve.

Marvelous Spatuletail Loddigesia mirabilis. Photo: Alejandro Tello

Santos Montenegro Interview

When did you start watching birds, Santos?

Santos: Year 2000

And why? Why did you start watching birds?

I was curious. I was working in my chacra (field) up the Rio Chido trail, where I bumped into a man who was looking for the Marvelous Spatuletail. It was Rob Dover who has a tourism operator agency in Chachapoyas and three people more who were looking for Marvelous Spatuletail. I walked up to them because I was curious and they showed me a  painting of the bird from the Birds of Peru
book to be  published  by Clements and Shany. I told them that at my chacra there are loads of them. (laughs).

Was that true, or an innocent lie?

Yes, it was true. There were lots there.

They were surprised to hear this, as they had spent 5 days without seeing the bird, and consequently decided to try the next day. At 6 Am they showed up at my house and together we went to my Chacra.

The lekking males can be seen December to May. Marvelous Spatuletail. Photo: Alejandro Tello

And they saw it.

And they were very happy.

How much did they pay you that time?

They gave me 200 soles (around 70 dollars).

Wow, 200 soles. They must have been very happy?

They were extremely happy. I was also very happy. They were some photographers who wanted to take a photograph of this little bird. They must have been very happy to pay 200 soles. (One of the photographers was James Hecht who managed to get the first good photographs of the species.)

What were you thinking? That much money for just a bird?

Indeed. I was thinking: Can that bird be worth that much? It completely changed my way of looking at birds. From that moment on I started looking for birds. It changed me. I went into the fields specifically looking for birds and I really liked birdwatching.

Later birdwatchers started looking for me.  Roger Ahlman was shown 3 males in 2003. The next year I went with you to Abra Patricia and Tarapoto. You persuaded your clients to donate a birdbook to me.

There was another guide Edilberto that I had used previously, but he was not to be found when Roger went nor when I met you for the first time.  I understand there was some competition between you.

Edilberto later moved to Lima. From that time on after going with you to the other places I really got into birding. And of course even more now.

How many birders have you guided?

Santos: Some 300 in total. Most of them have visited our reserve.

And then BBC came. When was this?

April 2008 and they stayed 3 weeks. Filming not only at the reserve  but also the ECOAN:s visitor center at Huembo. The best place for filming was at our reserve.

How many days did they film there?

Around a week.

How much did they pay you? Were you with them the whole time

800 Soles (US$282) for the 3 weeks – during which I was practically with them the whole time.

But you did also have your salary from ECOAN at the same time – so it was extra money.

I still had to check on the visitors center an hour or so per day.

The pay I suppose  could have been better considering how much your first group paid you for just a mornings work, but considering not too bad. What bugs me is that BBC did not offer any donation to the reserve where the lek is. What are the urgent actions needed to make the reserve easier to visit and how to diminish envy among your neighbours?

Leading water from above the reserve to the villagers would be a fantastic convincing action that would make all my neighbours in favour of the reserve.

Would the neighbours be committed?

Yes! I asked the president of the community. If we could get money to buy all the piping from the visitors that visit the reserve, would the community be in favour and provide the labour?  Por Dios! That would be fantastic, he said.

They also have to commit to conservation.  It would be put as a condition. They put aside some already forest area to join the reserve and in turn get the much needed water for the pastures. We’d make a meeting and everyone signs a document of  commitment. It would be no problem.  

Could there also be a visitor center there in the reserve? What is your vision.

That would be fantastic. It is until now the best place to observe the Spatuletail – and especially the lek.  This could be a place where the community sells some handicrafts. Later there could be sales of food and drinks, and souvenirs.

Let’s see what the results of this interview could bring. Hopefully BBC will see it and may in conscience make a donation. Also the tourists visiting will be an asset for the community as we can ask them to bring gifts such as school material, clothes for the kids, etc – like some groups we brought in the past.

Yes the people were very happy because of this.  

Do you think the fact that there is already ECOAN:s visitor center would mean competition for them or for you?

No, they would compliment each other. People like to see the birds also at the lek between December-May.  This time of  year is also good for Pale-billed Antpitta which sings only in the wetter season.

What is the estimated cost to lay down the tubing and how many meters would be needed?

It’s around 1500m of PVC 2 inch tubing that is needed.  Have to calculate the exact cost of the material needed. But more or less $3000 should do the trick.

And for a basic observation platform with roof and a sales area, to start with without toilets. How much?

With the community members doing the work around 6000 soles ($2120)

So overall just a little above  5000 dollars to make a fantastic project with your neighbours!


Hire Santos as a guide!

I recommended Santos to ECOAN when they needed a person who could do bird surveys in the area. I also insisted he’d be contracted receiving the social benefits established by law. This has proven very important now that his wife is seriously ill and in public hospital in Chiclayo.

Santos is on a cross road in which he could start earning a much better salary as a birdguide.  Unfortunately, we could not get a group together for June, but I just thought of another option for Santos.  To start with he could join independent groups as a guide.  He knows the birds between Pomacochas and Tarapoto very well after the trips he did with us. I hope some independent birders would take him along also all the way from Chiclayo so he gets experience along the full length of the road during June to mid-August 2010.  Just cover his costs during the areas he does not yet know and pay him 35 dollars per day for the areas he knows.  You can pride yourself of the making of a guide! I am sure Santos will become one of the great Peruvian bird guides very soon. Write me if you are interested at so I can coordinate with Santos. You pay to Santos directly!

Santos is learning English with lessons on an MP3 player – but he could use some practice with bilingual birders.  He does know all the bird names in English of the birds between Pomacochas and Tarapoto – and most the calls. He is the only birder I know that IDs the spatuletail on flight calls.

Additional resources.

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Rainforest Partnerships starts backing Satipo road.

Saffron-Crowned Tanager Tangara xanthocepahala. Satipo road.  Photo Tom Pavlik

I am very pleased to see that Rainforest Partnership starts supporting Satipo road and the community of Pampa Hermosa of which Apaya where we usually stay is a part.  The idea is to in a first step improve infrastructure so that birders and other nature lovers can start visiting the area more comfortably. Running to Marathons for this cause was worth it.  Here is Maurine Winkley’s mail to Brian Allen, who was on our last Satipo Road/Carpish trip and just donated $250 to the project.

From: Maurine Winkley
To: Brian A
Cc: Patricio Prieto 
Sent: Tuesday, June 15, 2010 4:33 PM
Subject: Re: Rainforest Partnership Satipo Rd.

Hi Brian,

Thank you for contacting us and what appropriate timing!  We actually have someone heading to the area on Thursday to kick start the ecotourism project there.  He will be in the communities for 1.5 months and is will set-up the project plan for the area with the help of our program coordinator, other contacts in the region (including Gunnar Engblom) and most importantly the community members.

We are setting up the smaller portion of the project now which includes making basic infrastructure improvements to the area in order to host more ecotourists in the area.  We want to help the communtiy generate an income so that they can preserve their incredibly biodiverse cloudforest (as you are well aware) instead of choosing to detroy the forests to raise cattle.  The larger part of the project will focus on getting the community title to their land or protecting it through a conservation or ecotourism concession.

The first phase of the project will require between $2500-5000 to complete.  Gunnar has already raised $600 by running the Lima Marathon and setting financial goals based upon the time it took him to complete the marathon (a fun way to raise funds).  One way to help would be to participate in the Global Giving Challenge we have going on at the beginning of July.  We will promote it through our Facebook page (become a FAN!) and also our website.  The challenge is to raise $4000 in July for this specific project.  If we can raise enough funds and/or get enough people to join the challenge, the amount will be matched.  We will need support from everyone involved in Rainforest Partnership.  If you don’t object, I will put you on our mailing list (we only send out newsletters quaterly) so you can keep in touch with us and the projects.

We also rely on our wide network of supporters who provide both knowledge and financial support  to help us grow.  There are many ways to get involved so let me know a little about you and we can figure something out.

Good to hear from you!

Maurine Winkley
Director of Operations
Rainforest Partnership

P.O. Box 49268, Austin, TX 78765 (mailing)
505 Willow, Austin, TX, 78701 (physical)
Office: (512) 420-0101
Cell: 831-325-6190
Skype: mwinkley81

Have you not yet made a donation to rainforest partnership here is a donation page set up for my Marathon fundraiser.

More information, videos and links can be found on the Marathon for Conservation 2010 blog post.

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BP and Bird Conservation.

An aerial view of the oil leaked from the Deepwater Horizon wellhead, May 6, 2010. (REUTERS/Daniel Beltra)

Will/Shall BirdLife International still cooperate with BP for their yearly conservation award?

The catastrophe in the Gulf of Mexico with the largest oil spill in history caused by an accident on a deep water oil rig run by BP, had me wondering about the future of the partnership between BirdLife International and BP. A nightly Google session resulted in this debate post. I am keen to see your comments.

BP – the GREEN Oil company

Look at the BP logo to the right. BP has a long track record of trying to be the “greenest” of all the oil companies. Was it only a play to the gallery?  Having a green profile is relatively cheap, when it comes to the money spent compared to the gains. BP had 16.5 billon dollars net income last year after tax. Between 1990 and 2005 some 3 million dollars were spent on BP:s Conservation Program supporting projects of Flora and Fauna International, Conservation International, Wildlife Conservation Society and BirdLife International. That is a mere 0.02% of the last year’s profit. Sure, there have been some great projects funded by BP, but is it right that a company can buy a clean conscience for a trifle of their profits, and then be responsible for the worst oil disaster in history?

100 million dollars have been granted by BP to the four affected states of Alabama, Lousiana, Florida and Mississppi in relief to clean up the mess and to compensate businesses affected.  Should that not tell BirdLife and the other organizations that BP has come off way too cheaply to be sustained by four major conservation organizations during 20 years as the GREEN Oil Company? And what will they do now? The current BP Conservation Program runs for another 5 years.

10 years ago BP announced they would never drill in environmentally sensible areas if there was a too high risk

Ironically, at the BP Conservation Award Dinner in London 2000, Sir John Browne says:

“And today I’m pleased to announce a partnership between BP Amoco, The State of Louisiana, the Nature Conservancy, Ducks Unlimited and the Conservation Fund aimed at maintaining and enhancing 70,000 acres of South West Louisiana coastal marsh and ricelands renowned for their vast migratory bird populations…..”

 And  he goes on:

 “….. Of course, our activities do sometimes touch on very ecologically sensitive areas. Our stated goal is ‘no damage to the natural environment’.

We’re determined to keep to that commitment and we will only work in areas where we’re absolutely convinced we can do so.

Whether such sensitive areas are open to activity or not is a matter for Governments to make on the basis of the democratic will. Some areas no doubt will be put off limits and we must and will respect those decisions.

And if areas are open, we will only work in them if we’re convinced, after taking the very best scientific advice, that we can fulfill our policy standards – including the protection of biodiversity.

We fully accept that means that there will be areas which we have to rule out.“

Why was the deep sea drilling not ruled out?

Question is: Could the risk of deep sea drilling in the Gulf be foreseen?

The answer is YES! Check out this from a New Scientist article published by Phil McKenna on May 10, 2010:

“… yet the risks posed by deep-sea operations – and specifically the potential impact of the failure of key systems – have long been understood. In 2000, the US Department of the Interior’s Minerals Management Service (MMS) published a report warning that there were several difficulties connected with deep-water well control, that experience in this area was “limited” and with many rigs having very high oil production rates, a blowout could be “a potential show-stopper” for deep-water drilling in general. That may yet prove to be the case.

Four years later, a report prepared for the MMS by a team at Texas A&M University in College Station warned that while drilling technology had advanced, safety technology had stagnated – and highlighted blowout control as a particular concern.

Then in 2008, a Society of Petroleum Engineers report warned that the hydraulic rams used in many BOPs to shut off oil flow may lack the capacity to cut through the high-strength drills used in deep-sea operations. The report’s authors included people employed by Transocean and BP – the companies that own and lease Deepwater Horizon respectively.

Despite these reports, in 2009, the MMS granted BP’s Deepwater Horizon drilling operation a “categorical exclusion” from all environmental reviews under the US National Environmental Policy Act. Such exclusions are meant for projects where, if any problems occur, environmental damage is likely to be minimal or non-existent. Until this month’s spill, the MMS had granted hundreds of such waivers each year to drilling operations in the Gulf of Mexico.”

To me it seems BP did not live up to their high moral standards stated by Sir John. Should large conservation organizations continue to accept support from BP, when their environmental goals can not be fulfilled? Should BirdLife International continue to help BP clean their name for peanuts, while extremely important wild-life refuges are threatened by the Deepwater Horizon oil-spill? What do you think?

Photo from REUTER via
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Lima Marathon and conservation.

It is time again for Lima Marathon on May 2, and although training has been a challenge with a nasty virus for 2 weeks and a hurting knee practically the whole period of 11 weeks of training, I am still going to do this race. I will not do my best time and certainly not qualify for Boston Marathon, but I am still running. Because there is something at stake. Conservation in the Satipo road area.
Last year around 1000 dollars were pledged to get me around the 42km and press myself to run faster than my stipulated finish time of 4h13 minutes. One dollar for each kilometer – or a dollar for each minute i shaved off my stipulated time. I managed to finish at 3:58, a time I was very pleased with, in spite of some drawback during the race. (Check the race analysis if interested).

Here is a this year’s pledge. Same as last year. Are you in?

  • 10 dollars. I think this is a great cause, and will support you no matter what with 10 bucks.
  • 1 dollar/min shaved off from 4:13.  You can do it Gunnar! For every minute faster you run I will donate one dollar more. Have this in your head at all times!
  • 42 dollars. That’s one dollar per kilometer. You are crazy Gunnar, but you have my support for each kilometer you run.

I’m in.

Within very short time, we got several people signing up to support Satipo raod again. And to help me make it all the way around.

1. Brian Allen, Michigan
2. Joe Church, Pennsylvania
3. Chris Drysdale. British Columbia, Canada. Of course I want to support the region that will play host to the November 22nd trip: $50 if you go under 4.13; $100 if you beat last year’s time.
4. You.

Make your pledge below in the comment section.  If you want me to link to your web-page or blog, I will do so above.

Why Satipo road?

I have had my eyes of this area since 2000 when I did my first trip to region. Birding is outstanding. Many endemic species, new species to science some of which are not described yet, and amazing cloud forest from top to bottom – much like more famous Manu road. Countless meetings with the local communities along the road over the years, finally in 2008 led to a trip to Mindo (Ecuador), to which I invited 3 community members (selected by the community) and 3 community members from the Carpish area in Central Peru where we also similarly connect with the communities.

The Ecuador trip was a great success, which has created awareness, not only among the participants, but also among the people locally, as I filmed the whole trip and gave each community a copy of the video. (Thanks goes to Fernando Valdivia for help with editing and Alan La Rue for down-size and YouTube format).   I am uploading to YouTube as I write this (not being a very avid YouTube uploader – Man is this slow!!!) and will let you know how to find the videos in due time.

First part with the arrival to Mindo and the visit to the Butterfly house ican be seen below.

Here is the second part involving River rafting and Orchid Garden in Mindo.

The third part is a must-see for all birders. The filming is staged at Angel Paz’s private reserve, where Giant Antpitta (named Maria) is being hand-fed at a few meters of astonished birdwatchers. This visit had tremendous impact on the guests from Peru.

Support Satipo road community eco-project.

Our effort involving local communities eventually reached Niyanta Spelman of Rainforest Partnership (with thanks to Charles Hesse for establishing this contact) resulting in a visit by Niyanta and Maurine Winkley to Mariposa and Apaya in Pampa Hermosa district.

RainForest Partnership have set up a donor page for the project in order to improve the infrastructure to receive birding tour groups. This is only the first step.  We have actively promoted Satipo road for 2010 in our sensational bird tour give away. In fact there is a tour their right now hosted by Brian Allen.

Here are the upcoming tours with the corresponding hosts.

Jul 6: Alan McBride, Australia
Sep 25: Chris West, Wisconsin
Oct 19: Joel Brady-Power, Washington
Nov 22: Chris Drysdale, BC
Dec 12: Kimberly Sucy, New York.

Soon RainForest Partnership will stage a continuation of the first activities, which involve forming a legally recognised protected areas in this region.  You can help, by making a pledge to support my Marathon or take part in the birding trips to the area.

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New conservation club for critically endangered birds

10000 Birds Conservation Club

Once in a while, the world famous, use their fame for a worthy cause. Sting saves rain forest, Ashton Kutcher fights Malaria, Brad Pitt stands up for human rights and Bono makes anti-poverty campaigns. Now the most famous and largest bird-blogging web-site take on their share to do more GOOD. They have started a novel Conservation Club for the Critically Endangered birds.

You can become a member and support this initiative for a mere $25. Not only is it rewarding that the full amount minus the small Paypal fee will go entirely to the project they decide to support, but you also have a chance of winning some great prices.


That’s right! They get such a large number of gifts from suppliers to review (after all they get a couple of thousand visitors to the page per day), that they thought these gifts could be given away as prizes to stimulate more people to join the club. In a way by paying $25, you enter in a great raffle and the prices are plenty and valuable. You have a larger chance winning than on any other type of lottery or betting  involving horses, dogs or soccer players.

Here are the two first installments explaining what it is all about.

So what can you win?  Just check this and get blown away!

What are you waiting for? Just Join!

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Are you joking?

No I am not joking. I am giving away 4 trips to Manu and 10 trips to Carpish/Satipo road in Central Peru. Below the macaw-picture are the departures you can chose from:


Manu 8 days

Manu needs no presentation I think. The lowland amazonian rainforest of SE Peru is world famous. How would you like to come on a totally free birding trip from Lima. You don’t even have to pay for the flights to Cusco and back from Puerto Maldonado.  Available departures on the following dates. February 21, April 3, June 27 and July 18.

Carpish/Satipo road 8 days

Central Peru is less known but is great for birding and is also very inexpensive if you want to bring a friend on your free trip. This particular promotions aims to promote the area and create a continuous demand so it will be worthwhile for the communities to set up some basic lodging. At the beginning the conditions will be basic and some camping may be needed, but at the end of the year it is hoped that no camping shall be needed and that the areas should be able to receive visitors throughout the year in the future. Departures as follow:  March 17, April 29, June 1, July 6, July 27, August 12,  September 25, October 19, Nov 22 and December 12


I am a tree-hugger at heart. More than a birdwatcher really. There is too much habitat destruction going on. Eco-tourism can be a sustainable way to protect habitat. But true eco-tourism is not possible if the community that lives around or in the area you’d like to conserve is excluded from the master plan. The only way in reality for conservation and true eco-tourism to be successful, is to give local communities true and immediate benefits. The projects I am involved in centre around the communities.

To highlight both to the birding world as well as the communities that there areas are important I have chosen to highlight these areas in “Fixed Departures” that run monthly. Each departure has a host who has been given a free trip.  I hope that this marketing, with free trips and the social media platform to get the message across, will be a very effective way to let the world know in very short time about these new birding destinations with extremely diverse wildlife, lush forests and spectacular scenery.
Also, from the perspective of the project itself and to be successful, both areas need groups fast and frequently. Otherwise, it is likely that the communities will not bother about the conservation and the eco-tourism.

What is in it for me? Disclaimer!

Kolibri Expeditions is a small company. This PR-stunt (I don’t think anyone else have tried such a bold trip give-away earlier) should/could become almost viral (at least among birders).  I hope this could get our company out of little league.  We are doing a good thing. We employe Peruvian guides. We work with communities. We are environmentally concerned. We have compatible prices.

Yet, we still have had problems at the end of the year for the past three years to get it together (although 2009 looks better than many previous years). The main reason for the poor result is low sales between December and May and our fixed cost that are even through-out the year. Our staff is mainly on pay-roll with legal rights to overtime, vacation, social health care and pension. So even in our slow months we have staff to pay. There is really no reason why birders should not come to Peru all year around. You will always find more birds in Peru than in your own country in the northern hemisphere. Costa Rica and Ecuador do not shut down in the rainy season – Why should Peru do so?

To sell more trips through-out the year, Kolibri Expeditions must become better known.  The give-away should help!

So what is the catch?

There isn’t much of a catch really. The trips will be totally free from Lima. , Since there are only 14 trips in total given away I shall chose those that provide the biggest value to the company. How you can supply that value to us will be treated in my next opt-in newsletter due Saturday Dec 12 (the newsletter will also be sent to anyone signing up later). This is what you need to do now to be eligable for a free birding trip in Peru.

  • The first thing you need to do is to sign-up to our new opt-in newletter if you have not already done so. Where? In the center column just below the big picture of a Tanager or Mr Engblom with child, there is a form to fill in. Email and Name, please! Then you will get an email telling you to click the confirmation link. That is it! You are now subscribed to the bi-weekly Kolibri Expeditions newsletter.
  • Is that it? No! One more thing! The idea is to use Social Media. Social media is all about sharing. Here is the link to this post that you need to share:
    In order to be eligable for a free trip you need to share. The more you share, the bigger chance you have for a free trip. I am not saying you have to become a spammer, but I am sure your friends would like to know about this possibility.  Even if you don’t win one of the free trips, you will by participating and sharing win a lot of Karma, so that new opportunities will be given to you for substancial discounts or other special offers or promotions.So where and how do you share? Twitter and Facebook are the two most obvious platforms and where you probably heard of this first. However, you may be participating in different forums for birders, listservers for birders, My Space, Hi5, Linked In, FriendFeed, Chatterbirds, Chirptracker, picture sharing platforms such as Flickr, Picasa, etc. Good ol’ email and blogging also works.  Write your friends and write about this in your blog. I will promote cross-link on my social media platforms to your blogpost as well as some other post on your blog which should bring you some traffic
    Also make  sure you use all sorts of link sharing platforms such as Delicious, Digg and Stumble Upon and that you re-tweet this everytime you open this page (check the re-tweet button and digg button above-I’ll see if I can find a SU button somewhere so please come back!).
    Finally, let’s mention Facebook again. You should share this link on your wall and become fan of,  monitor and participate on, the Kolibri Expeditions Facebook page. Every time you do, there is a little note on your own wall, that you have posted something on Kolibri’s wall.
    Do you get the picture? Social Media rocks!

That is all you need to do for now. Easy, huh?


Q.  I am not a hard core birder, I just like nature in general.Can I still participate.

A. Yes, you can! These indigenous communities can hardly make enough money, if they have to rely only on birders. Nevertheless, there is a reason why we chose to start promoting to birders. Birding is a great way to promote  new area if the ornithological value is high.
You should not expect the set-up to  be 100% functional when communities, completely new to the challanges of eco-tourism, are involved. However, as a birder, as long as you see a lot of birds, some hardships and things not being perfect can be dealt with.  When birders will tell other birders how great an area is for birding, it rarely has to do with what food they ate , or what temperature the shower had, but what birds they have seen.  In this sense birders are the cutting edge of eco-tourism – as they can withstand less than perfect comfort as long as they see the birds.
Having said this, I am keen to offer Manu departures with other themes than birding. Anyone being avid in photography, mammals, herps, butterflies or botany would have a great chance of receiving a free trip.
If you merely have a general interest in the rain forest, these trips are not for you. However, if you have a large network of contacts and feel you can generate some interest among others to see the Amazon rain forest, Giant Otter, Tapir, Macaw-lick and up to 10 species of monkeys, I would be happy to discuss the opening of some general natural history departures also during this first promotional year – and if you can recruit members to such a trip and host it – so much better  as I could then supply you with a freebie.

Q. Will you repeat this in 2011r?

A. Probably not! At least not in this form directed to birders in general. Some tour operators, birding magazines and prominent bloggers may get an offer, but it is unlikely I will present it to the public in this massive way as now. It is now or never! In any case we hope by next year that we have raised enough money to increase comfort and that it shall be no problem selling the trips for a higher amount.

Q. Why don’t you spit it out? What tours are you talking about?

A. Sorry! I was carried away talking about how great the trips are without presenting them. Here they are  Manu community lodges 8 days and Satipo road and Carpish. The first is a Amazonian lowland destination and the second is a cloud forest destination. The person winning the free trip would act as host for the trip.

Q. Where can I learn more about the community projects you are involved in?

A. Here are a couple of links. I realize I need soon to write an update on the advances on the Satipo road and Amarakaeri projects, but in any case these old posts give you some background.

Birdwatching in a communal reserve next to Manu
News from Amarakaeri – the communal reserve next to Manu.

Satipo road project
Outline of ideas behind Satipo road project – before trip to Mindo, Ecuador.
A marathon for conservation – A fundraising marathon and some update on the project from 2009.

Q. I want to travel with my partner. Can we both get a free trip?

A. Yes and no! The Manu trips are tied back to back with the Carpish/Satipo road trips. Although you and your friend would not get freebie to same Manu trip, your partner could ask for a freebie to the Carpish trip that follows.  This may be a advantage, when it comes down to selecting the hosts.  Make sure you let me know if you are a pair.

I suggest you send me lots of other questions to my email so I can deal with them in the next newsletter.

See you on the other side.

Once again this is what you need to do:

  • Sign-up for the newsletter on the top of the mid column -just below the Tanager photo or the photo of me and Luciana.
  • Share this link on Facebook and Twitter and any other Social Media platform you can think of.   Don’t link directly to the trip pages, please. We don’t need to shove it down their throats.
  • Please don’t mention the company name in head-lines… don’t want it to appear spammy! Mentioning my name and a link to the blog should be OK, but please don’t link directly to the trip pages. Again, that would appear as too spammy in a message to many people.

Many thanks for taking part in this social media experiment.

The photo depicts 3 species of Macaws from Tambopata. The Blue and Yellow Macaw is not found on the clay lick at Manu, but the species is generarlly seen in the area. Photo Credit: Tim Ryan From the Faraway, Nearby.
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Anyone seen the Great White Shark or the Killer Whale lately?

Sooner or later someone's going to die! Sealions and swimmer at Palomino. Photo: Gunnar Engblom

Sooner or later someone's going to die! Sealions and swimmer at Palomino. Photo: Gunnar Engblom

Eco-tourism can often be good for conservation, but sometimes the operators are just not responsible. This example is from Palomino islands outside Lima, where it has become popular to swim with the sea-lions. This is totally unregulated. There are no specific areas designed where impact with the breeding colony is minimized – a less impacting area would be in front of the bachelor resting rocks. There is no minimum distance to the island established, nor any code of conduct.

The water of the Humboldt current is ice-cold – the risk of hypothermia is evident. The swimming is just next to the colony. There are no rules of minimum distances.  The sharp teeth of the sea-lions could potentially be dangereous. Males can weigh over 300 kg – take that into account.

Killer Whales and Great White Sharks are rare in Peruvian waters, but both have occurred – and when they do show up again, could they avoid this virtual smorgasboards of prey?

So far there has not been any serious injuries, but it will happen – sooner or later someone will be serious injured or killed. It is an announced accident – that will happen.

Swimming with sealions - Invasive tourism.

Swimming with sealions - Invasive tourism.

In spite of this, there seems to be very little interest in regulating the activity. On the contrary the municipality of Callao promotes it. I ask myself if it is really necessary. At Paracas, 300km south of Lima, most tourists content themselves with observations of the sea-lions from a boat. They do not need to get into the water. Why can’t the same tourism be applied in Lima?


Since I published this blogpost, I found by accident a blogpost on Living-in-Peru that totally praises the activity. Two sides of the same coin! Which do you chose?

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Join Devorah Bennu a.k.a GrrlScientist in Manu

GrrlScientist - Devorah Bennnu

GrrlScientist - Devorah Bennnu

It  is a great pleasure to me to announce that Devorah Bennu – GrrlScientist will help out promoting the Amarakaeri Communal  Reserve, which essentially is a protected area in continuation to Manu National Park on the other side of the river. Last week I posted updates about our strategy inviting prominent bird and nature bloggers to promote community sustainable ecotourism and act as hosts for a series of special monthly blogger departures until the end of 2010.  The first trip with Devorah is coming up very soon as it is scheduled for Dec 6 (new date) so the takers can join a Satipo road trip prior to the immersion in the Amazon lowland. Read the detailed Manu itinerary.

Some bio from her Grrl Scientist’s blog.

GrrlScientist is an evolutionary biologist, ornithologist, aviculturist, birder and freelance science and nature writer. A native of the Pacific Northwest, she relocated from Seattle to NYC with her parrots after earning a BS in Microbiology (emphasis in Virology) and PhD in Zoology (Ornithology) from the University of Washington. In NYC, she was the Chapman Postdoctoral Fellow at the American Museum of Natural History for two years, pursuing part of her “dream” research project by reconstructing a molecular phylogeny of the parrots of the South Pacific islands and published in SCIENCE (September 2009) and NATURE (August 2009. GrrlScientist has written a blog about science since 4 August 2004. That she has a profound interest in birds is shown by her frequent column called Birds in the News. Living the Scientific Life (Scientist, Interrupted) by GrrlScientist, is one of the most popular Natural History blocks on the net with several thousand hits daily.

The interview

Q. Who is GrrlScientst?

GrrlScientist is a lifelong student of nature and birds are my first, and best, teachers. For that reason, I’ve dedicated my life to learning everything I can learn about them. Birds inspire me to learn more about the world and for that reason, they motivate me to strive to be better than I am. Ever since I watched a large group of Waxwings perched on a fence on a cold and snowy January morning, carefully passing a bright red berry from one bird to the next, I’ve been fascinated by birds; their beauty, their behaviors and their ability to survive seemingly impossible circumstances.
Why do they do what they do?
How do they know where (and when) to go when they migrate?
Why are there different species in different parts of the world?
Do they perceive the world the same way that humans do?
How do birds communicate with each other?

Q. Tell me about your love of parrots?

Parrots have been my companions and my family for most of my life, so I have a strong emotional connection to them. But beyond that, I view parrots as ambassadors. They help people to understand birds, especially people who might never have looked at a bird as anything other than buffalo wings or an annoyance. Parrots — gaudy, outgoing and personable — are the one group of birds that people from all walks of life are most likely to recognize and are most often impressed by. As a result, parrots provide people with a window into the lives of birds and in doing so, they help sensitize people to all birds, they help us learn to appreciate the lives of birds and they teach us the value of protecting and preserving birds and their habitats so future generations can discover the same joys that we  experience through them.

Q. What makes you a great host for the first blogger’s Manu community lodges?

I am a great host for the Manu community lodges birding expedition because of my enthusiasm, knowledge and desire to learn. I love new experiences, and birding provides that rare combination of connecting with a small group of my fellow explorers, learning more about the birdlife in a particular area of the world, and sharing the wonder and beauty of that with others through my words, photographs and other media.  Because I have been writing the popular science blog, Living the Scientific Life (Scientist, Interrupted), for more than 5 years, I have a well established platform where I can publish these articles, essays, photoessays and other media where the public can follow everyone’s adventures for free

Q: The communities have difficulties getting started with eco’tourism in  spite of lodges be donated to them. How do you think this initiative  with a birdwatching outfitter inviting bloggers can make a difference?

I really don’t know how to respond to this because I am not familiar with this situation. However, once I am there, I am certain I’ll learn more how the local communities can make eco-tourism work better for them and my blog can serve as a conduit for information exchange to this end between my readers and the local communities.

Devorah recently aspired an official blogging status for an Antarctica cruise by Quark Expeditions. The fact that she came in 3rd among 708 bloggers with over 2200 votes shows how extremely fortunate we are to have Devorah Bennu as our first official Manu blogger .

Once again,  sign up NOW for a trip to the Manu area with Devorah Blennu and expert local guides from Kolibri Expeditions. Your participation will do a lot of good for the community and their efforts to conserve a piece of the Amazon and find a sustainable way of living that respects their mindset and traditions through true eco-tourism.

Oct 23

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