Birding on TED?

Birding will save the Planet

I don’t even know if birding can be mainstream, but TED seems to be a good venue to try.  Today is the deadline for the public to submit a one-minute video for an live audition in New York on May 24.  The best will go to the TED event in 2012 in California and many shall be shown on the TED video channel on YouTube.

So I put this little piece together. Hope you like it.

It is only one minute long, so you have time to watch it. This is only the intro, I am sure you want to know HOW Birding will Save the Planet? My hope is that the TED people will want to know this as well.

The idea is that birding is a much greener way to do tourism than traditional tourism and it give local communities both a chance to get an income as well as a reason why to conserve their forests. I will in a longer talk show examples of where birding contributes directly to the economy and the conservation, and easy strategies how communities can be involved. I will also show a strategy how we can make vast amount of people into birdwatchers in the 21st century. Hope to get the chance, TED!

To get an idea what kind of great talks that previously have been given, have look at these ones.

Graham Hill (Founder of Why I am a weekday vegetarian.

Sarah Kay: Spoken Word Poetry.

Chris Jordan: Amazing art based statistics showing the excesses of our society?

Top illustration.  Earth Day 2011 by Alice PopKorn on Flickr
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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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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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Extinct birds don’t count!

Slender-billed Curlew. Photo: Chris Gomersall

Slender-billed Curlew. Photo: Chris Gomersall

Slender-billed Curlew is undoubtedly one of the worlds rarest bird. I am enjoying immensly 10000 birds’s effort to spread information about the threatened birds around the world.  After the splendid series about Spoon-billed Sandpiper now it is another shorebird under the microscope. Charlie Moores is giving us a review of Slender-billed Curlew and interviews.

So far the following deliveries have been published.

This reminds me of  an idea I played with a few years ago. For critically threatened birds the birder observe he/she would get 5 points. If the bird later is downgraded to a lower threat category and consequently be worth less points, one would still be able to keep the 5 points earned.  The accumulated effect over time with more birders taking on this system would be  spending eco-dollars where the value would be the greatest.

On the other hand, if the situation becomes as dire as it is now for Slender-billed Curlew, the points would be completely lost if the species become extinct.  A couple of very wealthy birders taking on this system could make the difference for some species. Nobody, would like to lose hard earned points, right?

I introduced this system in a database, and you may record your threatened birds on line and add up your point. I call it: Expedition Birding.  The full rules can be found here.

The last three years, since the birth of my daughter,  I  have not had time to update the system with new scores as a BirdLife have revised some birds. However, during December the system will become up-to-date, and I have also secured some collaborators to help me manage the system.  With my blog and social media such as Facebook, there is a better platform to involve more people.

Ultimate blockers – sorry mate, that does not count!

It is sad that some birders regard Critically Threatened birds as possible blockers. They carry the fact that they have seen Spix’s Macaw, Atitlan Grebe and Slender-billed Curlew with the highest pride, as it was some sort of achievement to have seen a bird that now nobody else can see. I would feel awful.
Not saying that there was much these birders could have done, but they probably could have done more than they did. And this is the mentality that needs to be promoted. We can do more than we do – for critically threatened birds!

Maybe, ABA and other listing promoting birder organizations should make new rules. Extinct birds should not count! When seeing a critically threatened bird, every birder should make everything in their might to get it down-graded to a lower threat category. Donations, voluntary work, promotion, petitions, etc.

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Wanted: Spoon-billed Sandpiper – ALIVE!

Spoon-billed Sandpiper. Photo: Nial Moores. Curlew Sandpiper in the background.

Spoon-billed Sandpiper. Photo: Nial Moores. Curlew Sandpiper in the background.

I am very excited over the new series of posts on 10000 birds. Charley Moores is presenting the Critically threatened Spoonbilled Sandpiper over 6 blog posts, with discussion and inteviews with conservationists and specialists. Here is the first delivery.

The prognosis is indeed dire to say the least. Charlie writes:

Listed in 2001 in the Threatened Birds of Asia: The BirdLife International Red Data Book as Vulnerable with a population optimistically estimated at between 2,000 and 2,800 pairs, there are now thought to be less than 300 pairs left, and – to quote BirdLife International – “action is now urgently required to prevent the extinction of this species”.

I am sure there will also be some hints where the species presently can be seen and what we all can do to try to stop the extinctionof this splendid most wanted bird by many birders who love shorebirds.

Spoon-billed Sandpiper Photo: Espen Lie Dahl

Spoon-billed Sandpiper. Photo: Espen Lie Dahl

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Recent photos and specimens of a crow confirmed to be Critically Threatened Banggai Crow

Banggai Crow (Corvus unicolor) rediscovered. Photo: Phelippe Verbelen

Banggai Crow (Corvus unicolor) rediscovered. Photo: Phelippe Verbelen

It is fascinating that new discoveries are made in this day and age in the ornithological world. An article published today in Life Sciences as well as adiscussion on BirdForum confirms that Pamela C. Rasmussen at Michigan State University has verified that the specimens and photographs taken by local biologist Mohamad Indrawan in 2007/8 on the Indonesian island Peleng are indeed the critically threatened Banggai Crow which was lost since 1900.  It has made public and official only today, because it had to be confirmed that there was no confusion with the more common all black subspecies of Slender-billed Crow (Corvus enca).

Dr Rasmussen explains:

The morphometric analysis I did shows that all four unicolor specimens are very similar to each other, and distinctly different from enca specimens. We also showed that the two taxa differ in eye color — an important feature in Corvus. Not only did this confirm the identity of the new specimens but also the specific distinctness of Corvus unicolor, which has long been in doubt.

Mohamad Indrawan, now concentrates on conservation of the species and its habitat. He calculates the population to be around 500 birds. Maybe birding tourism could help. Anyone want to go? Kolibri Expeditions forthcoming tours will also include Asian destinations!

The original press release featured also some bio about Pamela Rasmussen.

Rasmussen, who also is assistant curator of mammalogy and ornithology at the MSU Museum, is the author of the two-volume Birds of South Asia: The Ripley Guide. Her work on uncovering the ornithological frauds of British collector Col. Richard Meinertzhagen won international attention, detailed in Nature, the May 2006 The New Yorker, and The Best American Science and Nature Writing 2007.

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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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First photograph of Fiji Petrel from off  Gau Island, Fiji

Fiji Petrel. The Tubenose project. Copyright: Hadoram Shirihai

Fiji Petrel. The Tubenose project. Copyright: Hadoram Shirihai

This is fantastic news. The Fiji Petrel has been seen and photographed off  Gau Island, in the Fiji archipelago. A press release a couple of hours ago from Birdlife International reveals many details, such as the species is known only from one specimen collected in1855. That is 154 years ago. Alright, the article admits that there been a few reports of birds landing on the roofs on houses on Gau island that possbly were this species. But without photos or specimens, it is hard to be sure.

The article also describes the very interesting chumming method used:

The main ingredients of chum? Fish offal cut into small pieces and mixed with very dense fish oil, to which water was added and then frozen in 10-kg blocks. The chum was prepared a few weeks ahead by volunteers from the BirdLife Affiliate in Fiji, NatureFiji-MareqetiViti, the official BirdLife Species Guardian for Fiji Petrel.

Frozen chum blocks persist for up to one-and-a-half hours, creating a pungent and constant oil slick, which attracts petrels from some miles away. On the second day, the first Fiji Petrel appeared, approaching the chum slick from downwind, slowly zigzagging over the slick, and suddenly changing direction to drop onto a small floating morsel.

Expedition for Fiji Petrel in 2008

Hadoram Shirihai, the expedition leader and main author of the forth-coming Tubenose guide and Tony Pym a veteran seabird expert and bird guide are no newbies in the area. Already last year 2008 I received an email on the Seabirds Newsgroup on June 27 reading the following.


Now only one place left!

The chance to maybe see Fiji Petrel; never reliably recorded at sea to date. We have the right boat, tons of chum aboard (literally), and good/honest/reliable seabird companions to share with!! We need just one more pair of good eyes.

We sail from Suva, Fiji on the 16 July, returning 26 July. There’ll be other stuff too, like Collared and Tahiti Petrels to look out for (and who knows what else!)

If you’re interested get in touch now with Hadoram Shirihai for more info…

Look forward to seeing you on board
Tony Pym

Tempting! Very tempting!

But the trip did not end well. In another email on August 8, 2008 to the Seabirds News group Tony Pym writes:

The Fiji Petrel Expedition 2008

Gau Island in Fiji Archipelago

Gau Island in Fiji Archipelago

This year’s mission to try and observe the Fiji Petrel at sea unfortunately had to be aborted after three days due to mechanical problems with the boat. Two chumming sessions on the journey to Gau, the island where birds have been grounded in the past, produced four Kermadec Petrels (only the second record for Fiji waters), a White-necked Petrel (though possibly a Vanuatu Petrel), 20+ Tahiti Petrels, four Collared Petrels and one probable, though brief, Providence Petrel. Of special note was a small ‘Cookilaria-sized’ dark petrel seen by three of the team, which flew under the Kermadec’s giving a direct size comparison.

On the second day at sea we chummed some 16 miles southeast of Gau. Two Polynesian Storm-petrels (the first confirmed in the Fiji and Samoa biogeographical region for 132 years) were observed plus two more Kermadecs. Tahiti Petrels numbered about 16 over a three-hour period and two Collared Petrels were distant. Once more, a small dark petrel was seen momentarily, only to fly into the sun’s glare.

Following the boat’s technical problems the group decided to fly to Taveuni in the Fiji Islands and try for seabirds there (and the endemic landbirds in any spare time). We could charter only a high-speed sports boat and chummed the first day 18 miles offshore and the second day at the Vuna seamount. The highlight was a White-bellied Storm-petrel (a species never reliably confirmed from Fiji waters) on the first day and three Gould’s Petrels on the second. Day totals were 50+ Tahiti Petrels, one Collared Petrel on the first day and 30+ Tahiti Petrels on the second – on our return to the quay at dusk we had a gathering of an additional 50+ Tahiti Petrels, waiting to return to their breeding burrows ashore.

So the expedition for Fiji Petrel had to be aborted after the second day due to engine malfunction. The members of the team must have felt very heart-broken, especially those that had chipped in at the very end. Nevertheless, some good birds were seen. The small all dark “Cookilaria” sized dark petrel could have been the Fiji Petrel which is remarkably small. I wonder what the team-members think of this bird in hind-sight.

Fiji Petrel. The Tubenose project. Photo: Hadoram Shirihai

Fiji Petrel. The Tubenose project. Photo: Hadoram Shirihai

2009 and a new expedition in 2010.

The present successful expedition was carried out in May 2009 and the results are being published in Bulletin of the British Ornithologists’ Club (The first observations of Fiji Petrel Pseudobulweria macgillivrayi at sea: off Gau Island, Fiji, in May 2009 Bull. Brit. Orn. Cl. 129:129-148). Only 8 birds were seen in 11 days, which indicates that the species is extremely rare and deserves its Critically Threatened status.  Since molt patterns and tentative age was observed, predictions can be made when to best search for the species at land. Finding the breeding areas is the most important step for its conservation.  A new expedition to find the breeding area is planned in 2010.

Interview with Tony Pym and Hadoram Shirihai

I have had the pleasure of meeting with both Tony Pym and Hadoram Shirihai. Although, I can’t say I know them well, still well enough to feel comfortable to send off some questions.  I hope to get answers by tomorrow to follow up on this teaser.  Stay tuned!. Read the interview here.

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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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