I have been two months as a volunteer at REGUA now and every day brings something new, something different. Waking every morning with a beautiful scene greeting you – forest-covered mountains cloaked in mist, almost blue in the morning light – it is easy to forget how spoiled you are! It is the middle of winter here in Brazil but on a hot day (yes, even in the winter here it easily reaches the high 20s) it isn’t long before the winter sun burns off the mist and the stunning surroundings are revealed.
The long-ago first morning in the reserve began with a walk through the restored wetlands and the replanted forest, where the abundance of wildlife is evident. Everywhere you look and listen there are birds (so many to learn!), butterflies, cicadas, capybara (masses of droppings!), caterpillars, signs of puma and not forgetting the vast array of plant life.
I have come to REGUA to volunteer for many reasons. The first is to help Nicholas and Raquel, the project managers, with the Guapi Assu Bird Lodge, giving them a helping hand looking after the guests who come to stay in the reserve accommodation. A great number of the guests are birdwatchers who travel from across the world to spot the 450 plus species that frequent REGUA, many of which are endemic. My role as a volunteer will involve hospitality, admin, liaising with REGUA staff and having to speak Portuguese, mas eu nao falo Portugues muito bem atualmente! The staff are very helpful and probably find my ‘Portuguese’ amusing! I am going to be at the Lodge for the busy period over the Brazilian ‘winter’ until the end of November. I put winter in inverted commas as the shortest day last week was pretty warm. A good summer’s day in England! It’s chilly for the locals though, as many of them don jumpers, trousers, hats – even a scarf was spotted last week!
I am looking forward to the opportunity to become immersed in a conservation project in the Atlantic Forest, to learn about the intricacies of running of a reserve and the importance of working with the local communities. The challenges of conservation in a completely different country will be interesting to see. I will also get to meet the many different people who come to REGUA to volunteer, bringing their skills, energy and enthusiasm. And after a day’s hard work as a volunteer there are always the delicious caipirinhas to savour!
Am I ready for my 6 month trip to the Brazilian rainforest?
Hello! My name’s Helen and I’m work for Newquay Zoo, Cornwall in UK / Great Britain. From June to December 2011, I’m going to be working with the team at the REGUA / World Land Trust rainforest reserve in Brazil. This World Land Trust (WLT) is financially supported by British zoos in the BIAZA (British and Irish Zoo and Aqaurium Association) as part of the WildSpaces project.
I first went to the BIAZA / REGUA Brazilian reserve Autumn 2010 http://www.worldlandtrust.org/wildspaces/ , supported by Newquay Zoo. I went to see the work that REGUA and WLT are doing with the funds from BIAZA zoos in Britain and Ireland. You can see more about this first trip at www.worldlandtrust.org/news/2011/01/biaza-explore-heart-brazils-atlantic-rainforest.htm
The British BIAZA zoo staff on the trip including the BIAZA Director Miranda Stevenson saw the hard work of the WLT / REGUA team in their habitat restoration, helping to provide a link for many rainforest animals (many that we support in our zoos) to find sanctuary and safe passage through the reserve.
I was delighted when Kelly Jacobs and Alan Martin on the WLT / REGUA reserve project team in Brazil asked me to return to the reserve and help out for 6 months. It means leaving my zoo duties behind for six months ranging from looking after Alvin the animal encounter Skunk to teaching my City and Guilds animal management students from Cornwall College Newquay
The BIAZA Reserve Project in Brazil is an exciting collaboration between the World Land Trust and BIAZA who work together to raise funds through BIAZA members and their visitors. 25 BIAZA members have already collectively raised over £120,000 towards the purchase of 1651 acres (668 ha) of Atlantic forest or Mata Atlântica. Known as ‘The BIAZA Reserve’ this property is now owned, protected and managed by WLT project partners REGUA.
I’ve been learning some basic Portuguese to help me work with the local rangers and staff but I’m also looking forward to helping with surveying the wildlife and plant life on the reserve and working with visitors from many countries …
You can see more about my trip in my profile ‘About’ and read more about BIAZA / World Land Trust/ REGUA / Newquay Zoo by looking at the Blogroll links to their websites.
I have set up a Flickr account of my Brazil 2010 2011photos http://www.flickr.com/photos/helenbrazillaworldlandtrust2011/
and her support team back in the UK , Kelly at the World Land Trust, Polly, Cher, Kathy and Mark at Newquay Zoo