The Scientific Exploration Society 'Elodie Sandford Explorer Award 2018' Announced...

Our team member Eleanor Flatt has been awarded the 2018 Elodie Sandford Explorer Award by the Scientific Exploration Society (@SES_explore). Amazing news that will allow the team to continue their great work that was started in 2015. This time with a new photography element focusing on indigenous stories!

P1010566.JPG

The SES Elodie Sandford Explorer Award was created by Elodies family and friends in memory of Elodie, an honorary Vice-President of the Scientific Exploration Society and keen photographer. Our team member Eleanor is perfect for this award as she will be co-leading the 2018 Exploration Sira expeditions: adventurous, innovative and involving photography focusing on the stories of indigenous people living in a remote area and the plight of fauna and flora. All of which Elodie Sandford treasured.

Elodies family presenting the SES flag to our new #pioneerwithpurpose Eleanor Flatt.

Congratulations Eleanor and thankyou to SES and the Sandfords.

Follow our journey @ExplorationSira

Exploration Sira 2018: Unveiling indigenous stories and recovering forgotten species.

This year is an exciting one for Exploration Sira. We have new team members, new supporters and we are venturing to a location in Sira we have not previously visited; Yuyapichis. This is where we will climb to the highest points beyond 2,200m and explore an area where a forgotten species was last recorded in the 1970’s. The team of Peruvian and British biologist is getting ready, and this year will be led by Ruthmery Pillco Huarcaya (left) and Eleanor Flatt (right).

ruth and i.jpg

Exploration Sira 2018 aims to unveil indigenous stories and recover forgotten species. We will achieve this by deploying camera traps and carrying out amphibian surveys to investigate the unique biodiversity that Sira contains. With a special focus on finding the Sira Harlequin frog that has not been seen since the 1970’s and, creating better understanding of the habitat and distribution of the critically endangered and endemic Sira Curassow (see photo below). We will also be expanding our attempts to record the biodiversity of Sira by sampling the dung beetle and butterfly community present for the first time ever. All of which will surely lead to discovering new species to science.

curassow.jpg

The team has always worked with the local people, relying on their expertise and knowledge of the forest. As well as our scientific research our team will focus on photographing the indigenous cultures that surround Cerros del Sira and telling the story of how they are connected to their wildlife: unveiling never told before stories. Understanding how local people and wildlife live alongside each other in remote and special locations is essential to preserving areas around the world. This is especially true for the Sira region as it is a communal reserve (meaning that it should be managed involving to a great extent its local peoples). 

DSCN2866.JPG

This year we have managed to grow our team and our expedition efforts which would not have been possible without our new supporters. A great thanks to the continued support of the Scientific Exploration Society and our new partner the American Bird Conservancy, who provided us with funding for field equipment, travel and expedition costs. Also, thanks to Hennessey hammocks who provided the team with hammocks and shelters to provide a little bit of luxury and comfort during the two tough expeditions. The support of our previous and new supporters has made Exploration Sira possible, so again a huge thank you to all of you.

Get to know our new team member...

A big welcome to our newest member of the Exploration Sira team; Eleanor Flatt, a 25 year-old wildlife biologist and photographer from Peterborough in England.

IMG_1358 (2).JPG

I have been working as a biologist in the tropical rainforests of Costa Rica for the last 3 years. Working with camera traps (on the forest floor and up in the canopy), sea turtles, dung beetles, birds and rainforest restoration. Here is where I fell in love with tropical field biology and exploring wild and wonderful places. As soon as I heard about the Exploration Sira team, I was immediately infatuated by their work. I became determined to help the team achieve their mission; helping to protect Cerros del Sira through scientific research and community outreach.

A hobby of mine is photography, ever since I got my first camera when I was a child I haven’t stopped taking photos and have been able to do so in many different parts of the world. Another passion of mine is to tell the stories of unique and wonderful places through photography, connecting its wildlife and people. This is what I plan to with the Exploration Sira Team. This is a new element to the Exploration Sira expeditions and something which I think will help generate greater global awareness for the remote and unique place of Cerros del Sira.

I am thrilled to become a part of the Exploration Sira family and excited to share all the photos and videos from our 2018 expeditions.

Follow us on Instagram and twitter: @ExplorationSira

New Scientific Publication in 'Endangered Species Research'

The @ExplorationSira team are delighted to announce their new open access publication 'Terrestrial camera traps: essential tool for the detection and future monitoring of the Critically Endangered Sira curassow Pauxi koepckeae', available to download from the journal Endangered Species Research.

It was also fantastic to see international coverage of the research featured on popular tropical news site Mongabay. Below are some of the teams latest HD camera trap images of this Critically Endangered bird, and a photgraphic evidence of recent hunting right within its core habitat.

Latest MAAP update on deforestation drivers in Peru

The MAAP team have synthesized the deforestation drivers in Peru, based on 50 MAAP reports published between April 2015 and November 2016. The objective is to synthesize all the information to date regarding deforestation trends, patterns and drivers in the Peruvian Amazon.

Check it out here.

As you can be seen from the figure below... the Sira Reserve and its wildlife are under serious threat.

Sintesis_hotspot_1214_1516_v2_en-900x639.jpg

Podcast: Conservation and the Sira Curassow

Exploration Sira team member Andrew Whitworth has been interviewed by Mongabay for their first podcast of 2017. He talks about field work, the plight of the Sira Curassow and unveils some incredible recordings of its call. Check it out using the player below (from 31 minutes onwards): 

 
 

For the full article see: https://news.mongabay.com/2017/01/newscast-9-joel-berger-on-overlooked-edge-species-that-deserve-conservation/

El Sira: A Gold Mining Frontier

The fantastic ACA MAAP project has detailed illegal mining (which has decimated large swaths of the Southern amazon) in the Sira region. We had already observed gold mining first hand in the erea but it was very small scale.This seems to be a worrying step into more industrial, large scale operations. Read more here: http://maaproject.org/2016/mining_frontiers/ 

 

 Image from http://maaproject.org/2016/mining_frontiers/

Image from http://maaproject.org/2016/mining_frontiers/

First ever field plates to the amphibians & reptiles of the Sira

In collaboration with other researchers in Peru, the Sira team have published the first ever identification plates for amphibians and reptiles in the Sira. The plates have been published with the Chicago Field Museum and are freely available to download. We hope that this will encourage other scientists, students and local peoples interests to study and conserve the species of this special region. Some of the species shown are potentially new to science, yet to be formally described.

Bushnell Cameras Awarded to Exploration Sira

Delighted to announce that Bushell (@BushnellNature) have awarded four of their newest cameras to supplement our 20 surviving cameras from 2015. Kate Macrae (also known as WildlifeKate @katemacrae), along with Bushnell and @handykam (in 2015), has been a great supporter of the teams work.

The team is incredibly grateful for the show of support and hopes the incredible footage of the wildlife from the Sira will be an in-kind reward.

Sira - Deforestation Hotspot

The researchers at Amazon Conservation Association have been analyzing satellite footage of Peru's Amazon rainforest and concluded that the area immediately surrounding the Sira Communal Reserve is a deforestation hotspot. Having seen the devastating impact of the conversion of primary forest cattle pasture first hand, we urgently need to bring this environmental disaster to the attention of the international media. Sad times for the Sira.

Read more here: http://maaproject.org/2016/hotspots2015/

Our work on Mongabay

We are absolutely over the moon to announce that our research has been featured on Mongabay.com - our favorite website! The plight of the Sira Curassow has officially made it back into the mainstream. This would not have been possible without the support of all of our amazing funders and project supporters.

https://news.mongabay.com/2015/09/scientists-capture-first-ever-footage-of-rare-threatened-bird-in-perus-cerros-del-sira/

IdeaWild Support Exploration Sira

We are pleased to announce that IdeaWild have supported Exploration Sira to the tune of six HD Bushnell Camera traps. They will be making their way to join the other twenty traps which we have in Peru in July! IdeaWild support conservation efforts globally, and to date have supported over 2500 projects in 82 countries. Amazing! Check out their website at: http://www.ideawild.org/

Update from Puerto Inca – 4 days to go.

Ruth and Chris have just returned from their first visit of the Golandrinas community where they have recruited guides and porters for the transect into El Sira. Golandrinas is a small community of only 30 adults, living right on the edge of the Sira Communal Reserve. Our guides, Ernesto and Simone, are incredibly knowledgeable about the forest and a really looking forward to getting deeper into the Sira than they ever have previously!

The community regularly hunt wildlife and have never worked with biologists before, which raises some interesting issues and problems. More on this and more when we return.

There was also a little drama leaving the community on Wednesday, as some incredibly strong rain overnight made the river you have to cross on foot swell from just over two feet to over three feet and fast flowing. Ernesto helped Ruth over, who was struggling with water getting up well over her waist. Chris followed, filiming the whole event on his camera… until he was the one who ended slipping and getting fully submerged! Asi es la vida, la vida loca!

Now Ruth and Chris are waiting for Andy to arrive on Saturday before they all head back to Golandrinas on Sunday… Bring on the expedition!

Ruths first plane journey and permit in hand!

Chris and Ruth recently left Lima for Pucallpa. This was to be Ruthmery’s first ever plane journey. A bit bumpy but she loved it.

Once in Pucallpa Chris and Ruth finally managed to get the Permit for our tricky, never before surveyed transect in the Sira. Onwards and upwards. Chris and Ruth are now hunting a truck to take them to Puerta Inca.

Project Partners: HandyKam

We hoped that this would be a little video diary showing you the great kit supplied by our our project partners, HandyKam (http://www.handykam.com/). Unfortunately we have run out of time… so you’ll have to wait for the results in a couple of months! Here is a little teaser of our jungle proofed nest cam:

  In the meantime, check out their website! Their customer service is second to none and the warehouse is like a treasure trove of techy treats! Cheers for the help guys – see you in a couple of months!

In the meantime, check out their website! Their customer service is second to none and the warehouse is like a treasure trove of techy treats! Cheers for the help guys – see you in a couple of months!