Jaguars, tapirs, oh my!: Amazon explorer films shocking wildlife bonanza in threatened forest

Right now the lower Las Piedras is not officially protected as a national park or reserve, and we are seeing a massive influx of logging, hunting, gold mining, and drugs—which is all rapidly deteriorating the ancient forest and incredible wildlife that exists in many places there.

Jeremy Hance

   

Watching a new video by Amazon explorer, Paul Rosolie, one feels transported into a hidden world of stalking jaguars, heavyweight tapirs, and daylight-wandering giant armadillos. This is the Amazon as one imagines it as a child: still full of wild things.

In just four weeks at a single colpa (or clay lick where mammals and birds gather) on the lower Las Piedras River, Rosolie and his team captured 30 Amazonian species on video, including seven imperiled species. However, the very spot Rosolie and his team filmed is under threat: the lower Las Piedras River is being infiltrated by loggers, miners, and farmers following the construction of the Trans-Amazon highway.

loggers near Las Piedras

loggers near Las Piedras

“Most people think of the rainforest and they picture animals everywhere, but in reality, even in healthy forest, you could walk all day and see nothing,” Rosolie told mongabay.com in a recent interview. “But the camera traps show a different view. The footage not only allows us to better understand what species visit the colpa and when, but it allows us to observe natural behavior: tapir and deer visiting with their young, birds and deer sharing the colpa, the ocelot tracking an agouti.”

But Rosolie says the number of species captured at this colpa surprised even him.

“Seeing such incredible abundance and diversity at a single location in the forest, in so short a time, is something we have never seen before.”

Using editing and narration, Rosolie then turned his 2,000 plus camera trap videos into a short film that tells a story of this still abundant place. While camera trap videos are often presented with little-to-know context about the wildlife on screen, Rosolie says this is a “missed opportunity” to reach out to the larger public.

curious HOWLER

curious HOWLER


Map showing the Las Piedras River and adjacent protected areas. Conserving the Las Piedras River would connect several of the world’s most biodiverse parks. Click image to enlarge.

“For people who might not be so familiar with the animals of a given ecosystem, or know what challenges they face or what makes them unique—you have to give some context and presentation—make it possible for them to join in too,” he says.

But his wild place is under threat. Although the headwaters of the Las Piedras River are protected, the lower Piedras remains neglected, and the controversial Trans-Amazon highway has brought “a massive influx of logging, hunting, gold mining, and drug,” according to Rosolie.

“In the last month there was one jaguar shot and another hit by a car, plus a guy on my team saw loggers kill a macaw—it’s bad. People don’t realize how delicate wildlife is,” Rosolie says, adding that “for the wildlife on the Las Piedras, the subject of the videos, the situation is urgent.”

Rosolie says that if protected, the lower Las Piedras River would be “the final piece of the puzzle” in what would arguably be the greatest network of protected areas in the world, connecting Manu National Park and Alto Purus National Park to Bahuaja-Sonene National Park and Madidi National Park in Bolivia.0219.macaw.GowriVaranashi.568

“Contained in these parks is the greatest biodiversity on Earth (including world records in birds, butterflies, and dragonfly species),” explains Rosolie, who has also video taped one of the Amazon’s least-known mammals, the short-eared dog (see video below).

But getting the area protected will require a large-scale coalition, including the Peruvian government, locals, and NGOs.

navigating the river

navigating the river

“Right now we need public support, and for that, there needs to be a way for people to learn about this river, and support the process of protecting it,” says Rosolie who is currently writing a book about the region (due out next year). “These camera trap videos are just another small part of the first step in the process of broadening the exposure for the Piedras, and ensuring that this river survives.”

Rosolie sees his effort in the Amazon as instrumental for ensuring that wild nature—and animals like jaguars, giant anteaters, and tapirs—are preserved in a world where the human footprint seems ever-expanding.

“Our generation has the chance to do something unique in history: preventative conservation—ensuring that places that are untouched remain so—as well as helping human inhabited areas to maintain viable on an ecosystem level,” Rosolie says. “In another fifty or a hundred years, that opportunity will be long gone.”

Anyone interested in learning more about the Las Piedras River or supporting conservation efforts there can contact Paul Rosolie: Adventure@tamanduajungle.com

village in Las Piedras area

village in Las Piedras area

read the interview HERE:  http://news.mongabay.com/2013/0219-hance-rosolie-camera-trap.html