Animal Welfare / Ecuador
After an 8 hour bus journey and canoe ride, I finally arrived at my wildlife research centre in the Amazon rainforest. Completely secluded from all civilization, I was terrified of how my month here was going to go. However, I was immediately greeted by a German girl who toured me around, showing me the volunteer house.
There are currently 10 volunteers staying here, from all around the world. My first day was spent meeting all the animals, learning how to clean the cages, feed the animals etc. It was a really tough day, waking up at 6.30am, with a quick lunch break at 12.30 and finishing at around 5-6pm. The volunteers then cook dinner and we end up falling asleep early (after a freezing shower as there is no hot water in the centre, or even wifi).
Meeting all the animals was pretty exciting. There are a lot of monkeys and birds who have come from trafficking, and who have been badly injured because of it.
September 8: Today we released a dwarf Caiman. He was brought to us by the Ministry of the Environment in Ecuador and I set off on Tuesday morning with another of the volunteers, Serafin, to release him in an area of protected land around the wildlife rescue centre. We took a canoe, hitch hiked and then walked for about 3 hours (an incredibly hot, uphill struggle), while carrying this 6kg Caiman covered in plastic bags, after a whole lot of sweat (but also seeing some wild Pecaris and a bunch of wild birds) we finally arrived at destination – a beautiful, secluded river.
We released the Caiman, and he swam away happily. It was a pretty exciting moment for all, so we finally sat down to eat our lunch.
September 17: The day began with an incredible thing – pancakes (or panqueques) made by Louis (a new volunteer), accompanied by home-made Nutella. Having Nutella in the rainforest is probably one of the best things that can happen, so as you can tell from the photos – we were all overjoyed.
September 26: 7am: the volunteers meet outside the house. On Mondays and Thursdays the day begins with my most dreaded task: Frutas. This basically consists of carrying papayas, bananas etc up the steps and into the bodega (the place where we cut our fruits). Here are some photos to demonstrate the struggles and sweat:
After this, we begin our cleaning/ feeding tours. There is Mono tour (monkeys – my personal Favourite), Big tour (pecaris, oselots and yaguarundis) and finally, my dreaded tour, Front and special (a whole lot of birds who Attack and terrify me). On the day I took pictures of the feeding tour, I got put on mono tour !! so here are a whole lot of monkey photos:
After breakfast, we either have to disinfect the house/the bodega or go on tours. I usually do about 1 to 2 tours a day, and I really do enjoy them. After lunch we have to make the food for the animals (basically cut up different kinds of fruit), then feed all the animals again and finally clean the bodega. Then, we have our evening task which changes usually; it can be Baños (cleaning the bathrooms), Composta y Basura (Taking out the compost and trash) etc. On this day, I had Frente de Oficina where you clean the pond/river which America (our baby Tapir) poos into. Finally, we either relax in the hammocks or cook dinner. Usually all the volunteers are so exhausted bed time is around 8.30pm. Adios.
September 27: Having been living in the jungle for 3 weeks now, I finally decided to take the bus for an hour and a half to the city with one of the other volunteers, Janeth. It was really surreal being surrounded by like…humans. I mean, for most people this day was not that exciting. We literally just ate a lot of food, went to a bar and had a cocktail. But for someone who hadn’t seen shops and ice cream for a while, I thought it deserved a mention by itself.
October 2: So here are a few favourite things that we have done after work:Tubing!
Football! Edison (one of the local Quechea people) invited all the volunteers to play football at his house. We were brought over to an island in a little canoe, where Sandra and I nearly fell in because we were laughing too much, and arrived at Edison’s place. It was really lovely – with music playing and basically the entire family there.
Fleur12Rope swing! About twice a week after work, I would go with one or two other volunteers to the rope swing. We basically just swing into the river and let the current take us home – it is really beautiful.
On the 25th September, I left the project (There is a chance I may have teared up a little bit…but only a little. To all the project people who are reading this; thank you all for being so lovely and I miss you all!