Conservation and Sustainable development

Conservation is not possible if rural communities are not involved.

Amarakaeri – birdwatching next to Manu flashback.

Sharpbill. <i>Oxyruncus cristatus</i>. First record from Manu. Photo: Alex Durand

Sharpbill. Canopy tower at Blanco Lodge. Maybe the first record from Lowland Manu? Photo: Alex Durand

Some of you may recall my post from last year about the communal reserve Amarakaeri and how we Kolibri Expeditions were going to start using the community owned lodges in our itineraries for birders. Don’t remember? Check out this. Birdwatching in Communal reserve next to Manu.

In short:

  • 8 indigineous communities of 3 ethnical groups Yine, Matsiguenka and and Harakmbut form the communal reserve Amarakaeri in
  • They receive aid for various projects in managing the reserve including the donations of at least 400.000 dollars to build 4 lodges. (I am a bit uncertain of the total,but this is more or less the money spent on building the lodges).
  • They formed a communal eco-tourism company called Wanamei.
  • Although they did  get a lot of guidance and training work-shops by the funding non-profits, they still have difficulty reaching the market and providing a product that stands out compared to the many already established tour operators in the Manu area. They had no commercial partner.
  • And this is where Kolibri comes in. Our idea: They could become prime birdwatching lodges with trained native local resident guides. No lodge in Manu have resident guides. Eventually, they should step away from being “cheap” lodges, but rather high-end, but that is a different project all together. Birding helps the initial marketing efforts.


Although, our interest may sound altruistic, there is obviously also a thought that it will be a good business venture for Kolibri Expeditions. We currently only run some 6 birding tours per year to the Manu area and with this low volume it really does not make much sense to operate our “own” lodges. We could of course play it safe and just keep on doing what we have done so far. Most people I talk to warn me to try to work with communities.  The sensible thing to do is to continue do a good job and slowly but surely through our successful trips build our reputation. For that business model we don’t need to own or manage any lodges.  Kolibri needs to grow just a little bit to be able to maintain stafff of 5 full-time at the office and 5 birdguides.

To me, doing the” right and correct”  becomes a bit boring. I have been told that our “rough” birding expeditions to new areas  risk to spoil our reputation, as things always don’t go as planned. It is true. We are taking a risk. But it is fun to expore new areas and we can build new awareness when we visit. I sure would like to see Carpish and Satipo road as prime birding destinations in the future. If we don’t promote these areas who will? Finally, we have managed to get a conservation project started on Satipo road together with Rainforest Partnership.

Shaman Mateo and his family at Centro Medicina Tradicional (CMT). Photo: Alex Duran

Shaman Mateo and his family at Centro Medicina Tradicional (CMT). Photo: Alex Duran

Our collaboration with the Amarakaeri may or may not be a way for us to enter with our “own” operation in the Manu area. It is an alternative way that feels right. Most, if not all other commercial companies are not interested in investing in or working with the communities, as there are no guarantees for the investments they make. Many contracts have been broken and many intentions have failed in the past.

But there are facts that still make this interesting. First of all for most operators of birding tours, owning a lodge would be more of a headache than an asset. The costs are enormous and the payback slow.  However,  here most of the infrastructure is already there. Relatively small investments are needed that can be covered by small donations. For further development, we shall persuade conservation and sustainable development non-profit agencies and NGO:s to invest in infrastructure that will be fully owned by the communities against a committment of conservation and sustainable development. This way, the commercial risk for us will be relatively small. We will be a  marketing vehicle for the communities. I have no idea if this will work, but  it would be a shame not to try. If it works it shall be a feather in the cap for us and of great satisfaction. Hopefully, we shall make enough goodwill, to grow from a very small company that runs max 6 Manu trips per year, to one that runs Manu trips every week. In the process we are also helping out the local communities giving them a sustainable alternative.

Amarakaeri updates

Since I wrote the linked blogpost on Amarakaeri above, there are some important news.

  1. I took the idea to develop these lodges to a high end lodging operation. The idea was that the lodges should eventually become highend luxury lodges, because only as such can the sustain a large number of community members and give substantial income. This would need rather large investments, but after some initial marketing as prime birding lodges it would be the logical step to take. A commercial partner from start experienced with luxury lodging would be desirable. However, soon I realized what I mentioned above. They are interested in the area, but would not like to have a partnership without having actual ownership of the investments. Therefore, I have changed strategy and now build this campaign on the social media platform and with the help of donations by NGO:s and individuals to cover necessary investments on short and medium term.  RainForest Partnership of Austin, Texas that are now starting an eco-tourism/conservation project on Satipo road in Central Peru has expressed interest in this project as well.
  2. Two of the lodges – the best ones for birding – Charro and Blanco- are deserted and not in operation as I write this. The last rains got some of the gear wet and it has been destroyed, and since there were hardly no booking, the clearing has overgrown. Cost to get them going is around 6000 US$ dollars in total. We are setting up some promotional trips from December, 2009 to raise the money needed.  Kolibri is also sending a volunteer this month to get the lodges in top shape prior to our first trip. I am also looking for ways that people can donate directly.
  3. More than half of the park is threatened by oil-exploits by Hunt Oil. Read this link now: While there may not be much one can do about this, there should be a lot of eyes inspecting the actions and voices to be raised when/if the prospecting is too damaging. Having an alternative industry such as eco-tourism will possibly not save the reserve from oil exploition, but will ensure that it is done in the most sustainable way. Of course, for the sake of conservation and for the eco-tourism in the area, I hope that no fossil fuels will be found and that Hunt Oil will loose interest in the area. While it may be possible to actually get oil out in a sustainable way, we have yet to see examples made in practice in Peru. Hunt Oil has not got a good track record regarding the natural gas in Camisea.

In any case, many of the indigenous groups are forming resistance. The battle have just begun and your support for an alternative sustainable showcase both for the community as well as the rest of the world in more urgent than ever.

Our strategy.

  • Volunteers. A volunteer is initially expected to cover his/her own costs and that of a native assistant. This cost is around 20-25 dollars per day. When groups enter food costs are being covered.  Eventually, when the project is running fully, volunteers will have food costs accounted for.  Minimum stay is one month.
  • Bloggers promotional trips. We have invited some of the top nature and bird bloggers on our monthly fixed departures running from December 2009 to December 2010. Each participant on this trip automatically donates $100 to the project.
  • Donate directly. If you donate $100 to this project we grant you  a $100 discount on your next trip with Kolibri Expeditions lasting more than 7 days.  This is a win-win offer. Only valid for new bookings as of per today.

This way it should be possible to get the lodges up and running. When they are functional, they will also be more interesting for other operators using them.

What you should expect visiting the community lodges of Amarakaeri!

You should expect the unexpected! Then your mind is set at the right level. The lodges are remote and they are logistical nightmares to run. We have had some incidents that most birders would not bother too much about as long as they see birds. Some of these inconveniences listed here have happened in the past and may happen on your trip. I also supply solutions to these “disasters”.

  • run out of tea – drink coffee or chocolate or stock up on a secret supply.
  • run out of coffee – not at the same time as we ran out of tea.
  • shower curtain missing at Blanco Lodge – shower with your clothes on or in the dark
  • too few candles -bring a flashlight and plenty of batteries
  • no mineral water in the end and had to rely on boiled or treated water – bring purifying pills or a filter bottle just in case.
  • a missing towel – bring your own
  • a lodge did not have soap – bring your own.
  • the generator did not work so batteries could no be loaded – Bring plenty of batteries and consider a suncell charger. UPDATE: Kolibri has purchased a small generator.

Obviously, we will do our best to anticipate so that these problems do not happen, but if one such problem does emerge there is not much you can do except accepting the situation and make the best of it. That is why you need to have an open mind and understand that logistics here are difficult.

As for the birds you should see close to 300 species on this trip including the Macaw lick at Blanquillo. There are 12 species of primates regularly seen. Giant Otter is a speciality of the area. Tapirs are often seen in the dry season. Harpy Eagle can be seen at a nest for an additional charge of 50 US$ (this is not our operation and is paid at the spot) near Puerto Maldonado.

Your next step is to tell me when you want to go.

Carpish-Satipo road add-on.

I have already talked much about the community project on Satipo road that we are developing.  By adding Satipo road and the Carpish area in Central Peru, this pretty much replace the need to do Manu road more extensively prior to the Manu trip and it saves you money. All together it will give a  great and very complete 17 day trip with possibly over 600 species. One may through in a daytrip in Lima in between.

A 17 day blogger program would look something like this.

Day 0. Arriving in Lima. Some birding in Lima if time permits. Flight at 13.55 to Cusco allows to bird Huacarpay in the afternoon. Alternatively, with a very early flight you may make a one day Machu Picchu visit.

Day 1-8. Manu community lodges. On arrival in Lima some birding nearby.

Day 9. Pelagic or Lima day tour. Night bus to Satipo

Day 10-17. Satipo road and Carpish. Program forthcoming, but it would include Golden-backed Tanager, Junin Grebe, Diademed Sandpiper-Plover and White-bellied Cinclodes.

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Biography Vultures

Vulture blog logo

Today is International Vulture Awareness Day and this is my contribution to the IVAD09 blog festival Since my childhood I have always loved vultures. Kind of strange as there are no vultures in Sweden. But all those savanna nature films with several species of vultures shown and the “Fauna” collectable  animal enciclopedia by the Spanish filmer and pioeneer Felix Rodrigues de la Fuente – worthy a blog post on his own – completely had me. My interest totally toppled with the above scene from the Jungle book – which unfortunately is cut off but continues……

Buzzy: Oh, blimey, there you go again. The same once again!
Ziggy: I’ve got it! This time, I’ve really got it.
Buzzy: So you got it. So what we gonna do?
Dizzy: Hold it lads. Look, look what’s coming our way.
Flaps: Hey, what in the world is that?
Ziggy: What a crazy looking bunch of bones.
Dizzy: Yeah, and the’re all walking about by themselves [They look at Mowgli who sits down on a stone]
Buzzy: So what we gonna do?
Flaps: I don’t know– and now don’t start that again!
Ziggy: Come on lads, come one let’s have some fun with this little fella, this little [flockey?] [They all fly down to Mowgli]
Flaps: Blimey, he’s got legs like a storky.
Buzzy: Like a stork, heh-heh, but he ain’t got no feathers.

I started guiding for a Swedish nature tour company called Temaresor in the late 80s and in the years to come I managed to get trips where I could see vultures live. It was like the books and films of Felix came alive. Here are some highlights.

  • Breeding Griffon Vultures in the Cevennes, France
  • Impressive Griffon Vulture migration at Tarifa, Spain
  • Lammergeir in the Spanish Pyrenees
  • Several species of vultures just like I pictured over a dead Zebra in Tanzania
  • Most of the severely threatened Indian sub-continent vultures in Nepal and Dehli, India.

Eventually, I ended up in South America and got to see vultures here as well . Although the New World vultures  (derived from stork ancestry NOT. Newer data suggests, as David Ringer points out in his blog that they are not close to storks after all, but rather should be treated like a seperate group close to Falconidae.) are not related to the old world vultures (derived from hawk-raptor ancestry) they share similar biology. The are all highly social species who find their food spottily but in large concentrations. A carcass can feed several individuals so there is plenty of food for many. Therefore, vultures have developed systems of visual cues to let other individuals know that there is a food resource nearby. It can for instance be set off by the way a vulture  descends to a spotted carcass.  Vultures fly high not only because they can spot food from a far with their excellent eyesight, but also so they can see what the other vultures do.

The species in the Cathartes genus (Turkey Vulture and Greater Yellow-headed Vulture) can sense smell, which is unusual with birds in general (but shared with for example the Marabu Stork). Therefore, other species such as Condor and King Vulture will always keep an eye on visual cues from the Turkey Vultures and the Yellow-heads.

One of my best moments of guiding involving vultures was at Paracas on the desert coast of Peru. A group of Swedish non-birders made an excursion to the Paracas peninsula to view sea-lions and flamingos.  It was a beautiful afternoon with soft warm sunlight playing with the pastel colors of the desert sand dunes. All of a sudden a woman exclaimed.

Gunnar! There is a huge black bird out there with a bright red head. It is beautiful!!!

Yes, she had seen the Turkey Vulture. From that moment I realized that it is much more rewarding for a guide showing birds to non-birders than to birders. Birders often forget to see the beautiful in the common and the trivial.

The vultures in Peru has been subject of persecution. A couple of years ago they had to suspend all day flights to Iquitos in Loreto department in the middle of the Amazon rain forest, because the “highly intelligent” politicians in Iquitos had granted permission to build a garbage dump next to the airport. What were they thinking? The result, of course -risk of collisions and flights needed to fly in very early before the thermals or in the evening.
The officials tried eradication campaigns (yes…vulture slaughter)…but soon had to realize that it did not fix the problem. Recruitment of new vultures flying in from other parts of the jungle was always swift. Eventually, the dump was moved… the other side of the road across from the Allpahuayo-Mishana reserve, threatening polluting the ground water in the area. Fix one problem and create another is very common in Peru.

The Condor.

Andean Condor.  Photo: Gunnar Engblom

Andean Condor. Photo: Gunnar Engblom

The condor is not doing well in Peru. In many suitable areas it is strangely absent. One can only deduce that the persecution one hears about – poisened carcasses and direct hunting – is frequent. In spite of more environmental aware population in general, in areas where livestock are held and especially where there is a thriving alpaca and vicuña wool industry, the Puma will be seen as the most abominable of all creatures. Also the Condor is suspected to kill, in spite that the biologists say they only eat dead animals. The locals describe Condors harassing young livestock pecking their eyes and anus (soft parts) to such extent that the animal become weakened and dies. On one tour some years ago one of our clients, Kelly Cotten of Texas witnessed this on a hike near Abra Malaga in Cusco.  It should teach us to listen more to the locals!

On one occasion guiding again a group on non-birders, I was asked by the group members as we headed to Machu Picchu whether we would see any condors during our visit. I said: Nah, it is a bit too low and warm for condors at 2000m and furthermore the whole area is covered by forest. It is not really Condor habitat. The day of our visit to the Machu Picchu citadel high above the Urubamba river that snaked below the clouds were low. We could still see the famous profile of the sugar loaf Wayna Picchu mountain in front of us, but the higher peaks of more than 3000 meters were covered in clouds.

All of a sudden I hear my clients commenting in front of me as we climbed to the Inti Huatana – the famous sun dial hitching pole rock sculpture:

– Hey look! What a big bird! Is it an eagle?
– No, I think it is condor, said the second client.
– No, it can’t be, because Gunnar said it does not occur here

Right! Birds fly and on this overcast day they couldn’t see nada higher up. Two condors, an adult and an immature, flew across the Huayna Picchu background. Stunning! And everybody awed!

Andean Condor needs conservation

A way to see if there is a healthy condor population is counting adults vs immatures. It takes 6 years for the condor to acquire full breeding plumage. If the ratio is 1:1 the it is a stable population. However, if the ratio gives more adults than juveniles it means there is high juvenile die-off before maturity which concludes that the overall population is decreasing.

It was so much more refreshing after many trips up the Santa Eulalia Canyon 3hours from Lima to find that the population of condors is significant and with many immatures. Read more about the condors in Santa Eulalia Canyon here.

I have been pushing for, without much success I am afraid,  that the condor ought to be the national bird for Peru and Condor Pasa the national anthem. That would help sell Peru in the world wouldn’t you think? Hand on heart, in spite of the Condor being present in many countries, which country do you think of when Condor is mentioned in an Andean context. Or the other way around, what bird comes to mind to anyone – birder or non-birder – when somebody says Peru?

Lifting the Condor to national bird would both help its conservation and become a poster species for tourism.

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Peru’s president backs on some of the land controversy.

In the end the president had to back. Some of the rights of the indigenous people in the Peruvian rain forest are restored.

LIMA, June 18 (Reuters) –

Peru’s Congress overturned two controversial land laws on Thursday that ignited deadly clashes between police and indigenous protesters in the Amazon rainforest two weeks ago, killing at least 34 people.

Legislative decrees 1090 and 1064 had been issued by President Alan Garcia under special powers Congress gave him to implement a free-trade pact with the United States.

They outlined a broad plan for how to regulate investment in the Amazon, and tribal groups say they were not consulted before the laws were issued.

Several other recent Garcia decrees designed to attract foreign investors to mining and energy projects remain in place.

What kind of a government turn arms against their own people? National media talk about 22 killed police officers and 12 others. Hmmm, I wonder what could have triggered such hate  that people with spears actually attack the heavily armed police…..or is the national media not telling the true story? How many indians were really massacred, I wonder?

Check this video on You Tube.  WARNING: This could make you puke!

The roads are open again in Peru for birding and tourism. When will Peru officially start concentrating becoming THE ecotourism-destination in the world?  Tourism is after all far more sustainable industry that mining and forestry.

UPDATE:  The main stream media talk mostly about the tortured, mutilated and killed police officers. No-one can defend such horror of course. The responsible should be brought to justice. But, the question that must be asked nevertheless is why this happened?  Ben Powless does a good job in this article relating what happened on June 5:

Massacre in Peru: A Trip into the Amazon brings Answers and More Questions

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I have been working on this blogpost since Sunday, but life is in the way to finish. I decided to split this marathon summary into two postings.
I made sub 4:13 on the marathon, which was the prime goal, but far from my original quest of 3:30 to qualify to Boston Marathon. I finished in 3:59:16 in spite being impaired for most of the early part of the race by a strained inner thigh after only 700m, which forced me to stop for 1.5 minutes and run slowly for about 7km. I also lost 3.5 min at 22.5K when I urgently had to ask a doorman in a apartment building on fashionable Miraflores water front promenade for a toilet. Yes, pooh!  And yes, the Marathon as an event, especially one that starts at 7 AM, is quite similar to this classic by Monty Python.  Over the first 25km there were at least 30 people who side-tracked.

But these excuses apart, as I suspected, I simply did not have enough training time to make 3:30. Those in the know, know well that a Marathon training program should at least go over 12 weeks. I had five and a half weeks. I am not new to training as mentioned in previous posts, but no training during a month prior to my start and not very intensive prior to that, was this time not enough for maintaining the speed for the whole race. I was very tired after 22km when I had to slow down.
In a way the fact that I turned my race into a fundraiser, made my failure to qualify to Boston, still a winner. It helped me to go on and to finish the race. It would not have been possible without you.
I have used my participation as way to both raise money for a cause together with Rainforest Partership, but more importantly, I used my quest to raise awareness. Together with RainForest Partnership we shall continue to build new projects together and take advantage of the social media network. Don’t worry, I shall not bombard you the coming weeks as I have done these past 12 days. I promise this and coming analysis are the last Marathon blogpost I do on this blog for a long time. I may kick life in a dormant training blog, I started in the beginning of the year, but that is a different story.

In my next post, I shall analyze the race, and what I have learn. First however, the important stuff. You have made a pledge after reading the blogpost Marathon for Conservation and you like to make a donation. As you remembered, there were three options.

  • 42 dollars. That’s one dollar per kilometer. You are crazy Gunnar, but you have my support for each kilometer you run.
  • 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!

I did have this in my head at all times and shaved 14 minutes. You would owe 14 dollars (but you may want to add 5 bucks for the 5 minutes I lost quite ungraciously).

Meanwhile, Rainforest Partnership have made a note on Facebook and their blogabout my quest and donations can be made with safe credit card system on their web-page. If you leave a comment with your real name on this blog post or the previous Marathon for conservation blogpost, RP will be able to trace your donation so it would be earmarked for the Satipo road project. You can also send me an email to let me know how much you donated. I am hoping also through the people that signed up for the Rainforest Partnership cause on Facebook will be willing to make donations, in spite that the Marathon is over.
Finally, a big thanks to all that have responded to this cause, for retweets on Twitter and comments on the Facebook and the internet. You Rock!

Gunnar y Juan after the Marathon

Other related posts:

  • Physiology of a Marathon – race strategy for Lima Marathon
  • Un maratón para la conservación
  • Dress rehearsal. Last long run before the marathon for conservation.
  • A marathon for conservation
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    How on earth can a marathon help conservation?

    Pledge: I will run the Lima Marathon 42.195km on May 31 after only 5 and a half weeks of training at 4h13min or less. 4 hours and 13 minutes makes an average speed of 6:00 min per kilometer, which is more or less the speed that I have managed on the long runs I have done  so far.
    But I aiming higher than 4 hours and 13 min and this is where you dear reader come in. I challenge you that I will run faster and you can help me to push my limits.  Let’s do this together for conservation. How? I tell you how! No you don’t have to run a marathon yourself, but I am sure you’d buy me a beer if I make it, right? In fact maybe you’d say that you’d buy me two beers if I shave 5 min from the stipulated time. If I shave 15 minutes you’d throw a party. Having a lot of friends and followers on the social media outlets and lists that I belong to, that could amount to a lot of beer for me to drink – and it would probably not allow me to do any more marathons (or birding for that matter) for a long time! Let’s convert your solidarity for my pain and suffering pushing the limit into a donation scheme for a good cause instead . The challange on your part is to donate 1 dollar for each minute I can shave off the 4:13 Marathon. The cause: Habitat conservation and supporting community eco-tourism project on Satipo road in Central Peru. See google map.
    View Larger Map

    The principal area for birding and the conservation project with the community is the stretch between Mariposa and Carrizales on the map ranging between 1200-3600m altitude.


    I am not new to Marathons – the 42.195 km race that represents the ultimate running challenge. I have run 5 so far. My first in 1982 and my last in 2000. My last one I ran after 16 years of absence in 3:37 in a very hot Cozumel.
    I have had a dream for a long time to run Boston Marathon – the oldest marathon in the US and the most prestigious. In fact this marathon is so popular that one needs to qualify. For my age-group 45-49 I  need to run a qualifying certfied marathon in 3h30min or less to be eligible for Boston. A bit more than 3 weeks ago, when I heard that the Lima Marathon would officially be ranked as an international marathon and thus serve as a qualifier for Boston, I was thinking that in spite of my lack of training I could give it a go. 3:30 makes an average 5 min/km speed. When starting my serious training at that point I was out of shape, but obviously not completely new to running. I had run only about 100km in the first four months of the year and now in only 3 and half weeks later I have run another 250km  A week ago however, I realized that I shall not make 3:30 this time. I have got the endurance to last the race, but not the speed. I would need another 5-7 weeks to build speed. My wife asked me: “so why do you run, if you won’t qualify to Boston?” The idea of running for conservation was born (cracked during training of course). A reason to go on in spite of not qualifying for Boston Marathon.

    The details of the pledge

    I hope to get at least 100 people to help out. You can choose to make pledges according to the following plans.

    • 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.

    To give you an idea of the speeds involved for different finishing times here are some examples

    5.00 min/km speed gives 3:30
    5.15 min/km gives 3:41
    5:30min/km gives 3:52
    5.41  min/km gives 4 hours.
    6.00 min/km gives 4h13min

    It shall be fun to support, because I will be  posting  at least every 10km on Twitter during the marathon.

    I don’t know, but the whole thing may actually get some coverage in Peruvian press if I get it out through some Peruvian media.

    Rainforest Partnership

    For this to be successful and to channel the donations we need involvement of a recognized (and quite flexible) non-profit organization. Since similar pledges are not unheard of in the US, the US is the best base. Niyanta Spelman of Rainforest Partnership was in Peru last year checking out the Satipo road area making contacts with the community and is well aware of the needs and possibilities.  During this coming week, Rainforest Partnership will be informing of ways of receiving donations on their web-page and facebook page. Check them out to keep yourself updated.

    What can your donation achieve?

    Since 2000 Kolibri Expeditions have run birding trips to this area, but only a few trips per year. These trips have been quite rough, but we have supported the communities by using their communal schools as base for camping. We have brought school material, given talks about conservation, and small donations to install water and a toilet near the school. In spite of our effort, this can hardly sustain any major income for the community. Nevertheless, during these years awareness have increased, culminating last year when 3 community members were invited on a special trip with Kolibri Expeditions to Mindo in Ecuador to see with their own eyes what can be achieved in an area with same geographical conditions as their own. The same year they received visits from Rainforest Partnership and University of Huancayo was granted a conservation and research concession in their area.

    Now is the best time ever to start supporting the communities. They have a school building and a communal building that can be used as lodging presently, but there are no beds nor dividing walls. This is what we can achieve with different amounts.

    • 2000$ – Implementing beds and improvements of shower and toilet area in Apaya (2350m) as well as hummingbird feeders. The community can raise the current price per person for lodging of 5 soles per night to 20 soles (7 dollars).  That is me running 10 minutes faster than 4:13 and 200 people making pledge.
    • 5 000$ – the above and a Butterfly house/butterfly farm in Mariposa (which incidentally means butterfly in Spanish!!).  There is much unsustainable collecting of butterflies near Satipo.  With a butterfly farm it can become an important export business and it is sustainable. Later it will become a tourism attraction. I cut 20 minutes and run in 3:53 and 250 people make the pledge.
    • 10.000$. With an additional 5000 dollars would ensure the building material to build a new building at Apaya for tourism and price can be raised for lodging can be raised to 12 dollars per person and night.  I cut 25 min and we get 400 people to sign up for the pledge.
    • With additional funding we shall be able to do some workshop for local guides and how to deal with tourists.

    Every goal met will help to lessen the pressure on the forest and allow for an alternative way of subsistence.

    This old article give you a little bit more background on the Satipo road project. The trip to Mindo was done in April 2008 and huge success. In a future posting I shall upload the video to You Tube so you can see what we did there.


    I completed the marathon in 3h59min16s. 25 people made pledges. It gives an important addition to the Satipo road conservation project. Donations can be made on

    Additional later posts about the Marathon can be found here:

    The following people are in on the pledge:

      1. Brian Allen, Gran Rapids, MI
      2. Michelle Townsley, Ventura, CA
      3. Carol Foil, Baton Rouge, LA
      4. Dawn Simmons Fine, US (everywhere!) of Dawn’s and Jeff’s blog as they travel the US with their motorhome
      5. Janet Zinn, NY of
      6. Alan La Rue, Lima, Peru of Expat Peru. Learn spanish online
      7. Joe Church, Harrisburg, PA. Great pledge. Joe writes: On the same day of the Lima Marathon I will be running the San Diego Marathon. So here is a deal for your cause: I will pledge the $1/km or $42 no matter what for your marathon. I will also pledge $1/km for my marathon no matter what and $2 for every minute I exceed 4 hours or $1 for every minute I am under 4 hours.
      8. Antonio Coral, Massachusetts and Puerto Maldonado, Peru pledges $1/km. Thx Antonio. I told him I could knock it off his salary, because he is our main guide for Kolibri Expeditions’s Amigo research station program 🙂
      9. Bob Warneke, Austin, TX. Boardmember of RainForest Partnership.
      10. Stephen Greenfield, Minneapolis, MN.
      11. Lyn Nelson, Las Vegas, NV.
      12. Juan Liziola, Lima, Peru.
      13. Nigel Vouden, United Kingdom.
      14. Mark Egger, Seattle, WA
      15. Elizabeth Gross, Michigan, of Backyard Wildlife Journal
      16. Debbie Blair, Lexington, KY
      17. Phillip Brown, Santa Cruz, CA
      18. Domenic Tomkins from Expat forum.
      19. Olivia Gentile, NY. Author of “Life List” about Phoebe Snetsinger.
      20. Linus Thiel, Stockholm, Sweden aka @yesbabyyes.
      21. Christopher, Boston, MA. Owner of Picus blog
      22. Peggie Veggie
      23. Mary Ambler
      24. Stuart Starrs, Lima, Peru.

    25. Murray Honick

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    Is shade grown coffee really bird friendly?

    Cerulean Warbler is a threatened tropical migrant that spends the winter at altitudes of mainly 900-1800m along the east slope of the Andes, south to Peru. We conducted a survey for Cerulean Warbler in Central Peru during Jan-March, 2006. We failed to find it, partly due to extreme poor field conditions with a lot of rain making access a big problem. But part of the problem, may be that the habitat is not as good as it used to be.

    During the 1998-1999 study from Villa Rica, Smithsonian Institute (Sterling et al) found the Cerulean Warbler only in “rustic” coffee plantations. In such plantations coffee is grown under indigenous shade trees remaining from the native forest before the understory was cleared for coffee. These very old trees have many epiphytes and dead leaves curled up, that serves as hiding places for a lot of bugs. Cerulean Warbler is an expert on gleaning the curled up leaves.

    We hardly found any “rustic coffee” habitat during our study in spite that we returned to the same area where Smithsonian Institute had done its survey in the late nineties. Most of what was there 6-8 years ago, has been replaced with fast growing Inga and Albizia as shade trees species that carry no epiphytes and much less leaf cover. Could it be, that the coffee boom that markets shade-grown coffee, does not actually promote the more bird friendly rustic plantations, but rather promotes more mono-cultures with Inga and Albizia, since such areas can still be regarded as shade-grown? The amount of light available for the coffee plant, as well as the humidity, are easier to control. It appears that both yield and quality is higher in such conditions and that the market (ultimately the consumers) does not know how to separate between the terms organic, fair trade, shade-grown and bird-friendly coffee. We interviewed people at the farms and it is clear that many of those areas that previously were considered rustic, have been converted to mono-cultures today.

    At some of the plantations importers such as Starbucks have rather strict rules for the coffee producers. Reforestation of indigenous tree species is being made. (They should not have been cut in the first place). But in these certified plantations the planted, often slow-growing, trees are mostly saplings and very small and pays no role, what so ever, to provide food and shelter to the birds.

    So what about organic. Should be safe for the eco conscious, right?

    Well, not necessarily! Organic plantations are also often not rustic enough to attract the multitude of birds of the rustic coffee plantation. On organic plantations industrial fertilizers are not allowed, and as the definition implies, pest control can not be chemical, but rather biological control. However, if the ecological conditions have changed so much that Cerulean Warbler does no consider the habitat optimum , one cannot really define organic as bird-friendly.

    Furthermore, the guano that is used as alternative fertilizer, is either from very “inhumane” chicken farms with thousands of chicken packed together and pumped with antibiotics or from the guano islands home of large colonies of seabirds off the Peruvian coast.
    The harvest of this guano is far from bird-friendly. Many of the guano producing bird species have populations that are being decimated every year, due to the depletion of the fish stock by the immense Peruvian anchoveta fishing fleet and during the guano harvest the birds are repetitively disturbed.

    Productivity ought to be much lower in these plantations so if more and more coffee drinkers start choosing organic instead of conventional coffee, the total outcome will be that more native primary hill forest will be transformed to these Albiza/Inga monocultures with occasional saplings of native trees to keep up the production.
    The bottom line is that maybe some good habitat could have been saved, if the production instead had been maximised with conventional fertilizers.
    After all, one of the main reasons, why conventional industrial fertilizer are not liked in Europe and in North America, is that nutrients leak into the environment and resulting in algae blooming and super eutrophic lakes that soon are completely covered in reeds. This is not the case in the rain-forest where there is constant LACK of nutrients. Some leaking nutrients would not be a problem, as they would be immediately absorbed in the ecosystem.
    I would like to find a coffee farm that maximises production with fertilizers and compost and that way can set off a large extent of its land as a reserve for birds. It may still be shade grown since 95 % of the coffee is shade grown anyway, but guano from birds would not be used. This would be truly bird friendly coffee. Maybe a side product we can sell to birders. Verified and certified bird friendly Kolibri coffee!

    Update Jan 15, 2009:
    How do you make the perfect coffee? Just got a tip from Jake Fontenot.
    Is it with a Melitta electric coffee machine? No!
    Is it with an refined electric expresso machine? No?
    Is it with one of those silvery time-glass shaped on the stove machines one see in Spain? No!
    Got to be the French Press then? Good, but not!
    It is the Aeropress. Perfect coffee and no mess! What more could you ask for?
    Thanks for the tip, Jake.

    Birding Peru with Kolibri Expeditions
    More Birds!

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    Dolphin massacre in Japan

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