Working Herp Holiday
Ever sat around dreaming of exotic places with exotic herps and about how much fun it might be to get off your butt and actually do something other than just think about it? Well Jono Denham from SW Sydney did exactly that and found over 90 species of herps in the jungles of Peru - in the Tambopata region, along the Madre De Dios, Tambopata and Las Piedras rivers. This web page provides a brief overview of his adventure and shows pics of some of the reptiles he found.
Jono, who is a zoo keeping student and herp enthusiast, has always wanted more field experience and thought where better to improve the situation than the remote jungles of South America. (Quite obvious when you think about it). He found the opportunity on the internet in a project called Fauna Forever (www.faunaforever.com) which wanted volunteers with "no experience necessary".
The aim of the project is to look at the effect of tourist traffic on the native fauna along jungle trails. The volunteers are split into 3 teams which concentrate on one of three fauna groups; mammals, birds or reptiles. Jono, of course, joined the herp team. These teams work in plots along trails (treatment quadrats) and in plots that are some distance off trails (control quadrats). A similar approach is adopted using transects. The research is being repeated every 5 years in the same areas so that trends can be measured over the long term.
Jono ended up spending just under 3 months and 2 weeks in five different research centres and tourist lodges. Work for the herp team, which varied between three or four volunteers, consisted of visiting the transecs and quadrats almost every night and a few days a week looking for snakes, lizards and amphibians from the tree tops down to the leaf litter under foot. Transects were based on visual encounters - that is they caught all the herps they could see with minimal disturbance to shrubs or undergrowth.
By the end of his stay in Peru, Jono had recorded seeing a remarkable number of South America's jungle inhabitants. These included:-
If you place your curser on any of the surrounding pictures and click on them you will see an enlargement of that photograph together with Jono's notes about the animals. In this way, if you are still dreaming of exotic places and herps, you can at least do something about it with the click of your mouse.
By the way, Jono ended up catching more than he bargained for in the
jungles of Peru - a disease which is transmitted through the bite of
a sand fly. Called Leishmaniasis, the villain in this disease is a flesh
eating protozoan that can spread through the body and into the eyes
and face. Just before flying home Jono noticed a small lesion, similar
to a mosquito bite, on his hip near the belt line. Four months later
the "mosquito bite" is an open wound the size of an Aussie
two dollar coin and Jono is receiving I.V. infusions every day for a
month. Perhaps, exploring exotic places and herps on the internet isn't
so bad ......
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