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Spotting Wildlife in Northern Peru

6th June 2014

On the recent Lost Treasures of the Cloud Forests tour we made a diversion from the pre-Inca Northern Peru circuit and headed to the tranquility of Chaparri. Chaparri is in the foothills of the Andes not far from the coast and is a community reserve which has been set up to protect and allow the regeneration of 34,000 hectares of Pacific Equatorial Dry Forest. This is an important habitat between the mountains and the ocean, isolated from other forests and home to many endemic bird species. 40% of the reserve fee goes towards the upkeep of the area including rangers, which helps ensure the no hunting ban is adherred to. The other 60% of the fee goes towards community projects including health centres and improving educational facilities.

Our local guide who took us around had a very keen eye for the birds and called many in by imitating their sounds or using his telephone with MP3 playback. One of these was the white-winged guan, a large almost turkey-like bird that has been hunted almost to extinction. In the haven of Chaparri they are now well accustomed to people walking around and having cameras pointed at them. The white-tailed deer we saw kept a distance, whilst the Andean foxes watched us from close by with nonchalant curiosity. Another favourite of our stay were the collared peccaries which wandered around close to the lodge - including beneath the table as we ate lunch.

There is also an Andean bear rehabilitation area; many of the bears have been recovered from circuses and kept as family pets. The bears are taught to go looking for food and then moved away to a large holding pen where there is minimum contact with humans and from there they are released back into the wild. Unfortunately two of the bears won't get that experience; one of the older males had his canines removed when he was in the circus and one of the females, at 14 years old, is just too used to being close to humans. They have had cubs together which has completed the return to the wild programme and it appears the female bear, Cholita, is pregnant again. She was the star on this trip and allowed us to get a close-up view.

Rob Dover

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