Our executive director Dr. Teri Allendorf recently returned from Peru. This was the first trip of our new project to expand primate habitat in Peru with our partners at Neotropical Primate Conservation.

Together we plan to expand their existing network of 11 community-managed reserves in the beautiful and biodiverse Andean foothills by working with four additional communities. Three threatened primate species are only found in this area: the Critically Endangered yellow tailed woolly monkey (Lagothrix flavicauda) and San Martin titi monkey (Plecturocebus oenanthe), and the Endangered Peruvian night monkey (Aotus miconax).

Here’s Teri’s description of the trip.

Arriving in Moyobamba, Peru

The trip to Peru was filled with so many new sights and sounds – all of them beautiful. I flew over the Andes from Lima to Tarapoto to the lush green of Moyobamba in the San Martín region, where our partner, Neotropical Primate Conservation, is located. Moyobamba, called “The City of Orchids,” has a beautiful square, a green public space on the north side that descends down to the river, and colorful murals all over the city.

I got to watch a traditional singing group from the coast at a beautiful new cultural center with NPC’s program manager, Lorena, and a number of students and volunteers working with NPC. I visited a lodge with a viewing tower for more than 20 species of hummingbirds. I even got to celebrate Halloween with the NPC crew – complete with costumes, dancing, food, and Michael Jackson’s music video Thriller twice. Because fieldwork was limited because of COVID-19, I spent a lot of my time getting to know the NPC staff and projects.

Santa Elena Reserve – ecotourism done well

But I had the chance to visit three different communities in the second week of my trip. I visited the Santa Elena Ecological Reserve, a community ecotourism site, with Sam, Sam’s two-year old son Callum, and three NPC volunteers.

Santa Elena is not an NPC site but it is a great example of a successful community ecotourism project in Peru. We had a two-hour trip in a canoe and saw a number of primate species. Unfortunately, not many birds in the late morning, but that’s what you get when you are traveling with a primatologist and not a birder!

San Lorenzo – unloading seedlings in the dark

Two of the communities we visited were NPC projects. One is a reforestation project in the catchment area of the Marona Conservation Area, which NPC originally helped to create. Along with the local university, NPC is helping communities reforest their watershed area as well as planting trees on their own land.

We visited in the dark to help unload seedlings in the community of San Lorenzo. The truck with the seedlings from the nursery in Tarapoto didn’t arrive until about 7 pm at night in the dark because they had unfortunately packed half of the truck with the wrong species and had to unpack and repack – seedling by seedling. Some trays would have been so much easier!

But even at 7 pm in the dark, many people from the community showed up – women, children, and men – working by the light of motorcycles and cell phones to unload the seedlings one at a time.

Juningue – a new potential community

The other site I visited was a new community NPC may soon work with, the Juningue Conservation Concession. They formed their conservation area just one year ago and are already working on livelihood activities, including a honey project. NPC is looking to work with them on monitoring the primate species there.

To get to the community, Lorena, Diego, and I caught a moto (local taxi) and traveled about 20 minutes east of town. We were dropped off on a dirt road next to the river and took a ferry that moved powered only by the river. The ferry person attached ropes from a wire going across the river at different points on the ferry depending on which direction he was going across the river, so that the water hitting the ferry moved it along. It was starting to rain when we reached the other side and started walking down a very muddy and small dirt road to the community. After a few minutes, another moto came toward us, sent by the concession chairman to pick us up.

We met the community representatives in the school canteen, a one-room cement building in a field across from the school. The men sat on one side and the women on the other.

Lorena introduced us and explained NPC’s interest in monitoring primates in the concession. She asked them what sorts of primates they have in the forest and both sides of the room, the men and the women, were equally talkative. One woman in particular was very interested in the details of one species of primate, which apparently, I found out later, she actually had never seen because she didn’t go to the forest much.

Lorena ended the meeting with a request that they consider if they would like to collaborate with NPC, and Diego bought a jar from their first batch of local honey.

Make Conservation Happen

It’s off to a good start, and we’re looking forward to developing this project with Neotropical Primate Conservation more in 2022.

Ultimately we will need $20,000 to work with all four new villages. Any amount helps as the project progresses – and we’re over 3/4 of the way there with over $15,000 raised already! Donate here to help communities in Peru protect primate habitat.

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