EXPEDITION  TO  WILDEST  PERU

                                           1-21 JULY 2014
 


The Spectacled Bear (library shot) and
a Porcupine that came into the camp at Paujil


PERU SITREPS  BY JOHN BLASHFORD-SNELL


Sitrep 1 - Team arrived at Oxapampa on evening 2 July after 12 hours drive from Lima.  Heavy traffic leaving Lima and works on the mountain road  delayed us. Weather fair, light snow fall as we crossed Andes at  1,500 feet.

Useful meeting with Peruvian Air Force, who kindly offered to try to help us in emergencies.

Now preparing to deploy to tasks on 4th.

Sitrep2 - Expedition has been working for four days in a narrow valley West of Yanachaga Park. Mountains closing create a steep sided gorge and the unsurfacedroad is subject to frequent landslides.

Working at three village clinics medical and dental team have been very busy. The largely poor people greatly appreciate the free spectacles provided by SES members. To date CaptEllen Bartlett of the Royal Army Dental Corps has had over 50 patientsand Dr Katherine Welland has treated over 200.  The local health Director, a doctor and a dentist are helping.

Steve Clarkson from New Zealandhas been advising the local people on agriculture and prompting the children to protect the environment and especially the spectacled bear. Using 'spectacled bear' tiddies and puppets the team has encouraged children to persuade their parents not to injure the bears. These shy creatures live in the toweringjungle cloudmountains and occasionally raid the farmers' crops. 

Julian Butter has led a team to study the wildlife in the North of the Park. This team includes Dr Amy Hall from the Durrell Wildlife Park in Jersey and wildlife photographer Gregory Guida. The spectacled bears are seen from time to time  but so far the team has not spotted one.

The weather is warm by day but chilly at night and there has been rain.

The Peruvians clearly appreciate the expeditions efforts. On 9th July the teams move to the Eastern side of the Park to set up a new base.  ENDS

Sitrep 3 - Expedition now based at Iscozacin on East side of Yanachaga Park. Altitude around 1000 feet, hot and humid. Surrounded by jungle-clad mountains. Spectacled bears elusive, but reported by local people whose maize and avocado they eat.

Our clinics were well attended. Dentistry especially needed. Dave Smith has led a medical team to remote Nueva Esperanza, wading through knee deep mud and crossing a 50 metre wide river.

Community aid team continue to distribute school books  and reading glasess whilst giving advice on agriculture. Using woolen spectacled teddy  bears and puppets, competitions are being organised for the children who draw spectacled bears. Winners are rewarded with a teddy!

Dr Amy Hall of Jersey's Durrell Wild Life Park is working with a team on the fauna within the park.

Dave Smith and a group are joining them today.  

Our rations consists largely of fruit, fish and avocado purchased locally by Yolima Cipagauta and issued by Hazel Armstrong.

Steve Clarkson and Lyn Watson of New  Zealand area advising locals on agriculture. Main crops in the region are cocoa, papaya,  yuca, plantain, banana  and avocado.

Sitrep 4 - The  expedition has completed its tasks on the East side of Yanachaga and is now returning to Oxapampa and on to Lima.

The biological group al Paujil in the park, saw a wider range of creatures, including kinkajou, porcupine and woolley monkey; but spectacled bear proved elusive.  Snakes were encountered and bird life and insects were prolific. The porcupine were very tame and regular visitors to their camp. One even tried to get into Dr Katherine Welland's tent! Paujil is extremely well run by a group of wardens and the expedition zoologist, Dr Amy Hall, described it as an  isolated, unique and diverse environment .

In the buffer zone villages the medical teams treated over 400 patients and the dentist had over 150.

Medical supplies, schools books and reading glasses were distributed in the villages. The gifts of 'spectacled bear' teddies to children was recognised as an important way to encourage the conservation of wildlife.

Mike Grady has repaired numerous items of machinery and Ben Clayton  has shot a video film of the expedition.

Steve Clarkson gave useful agriculture advice to villages and was specially interested in the fish and edible snail farming.

The Park authorities and Health Dept have praised the tireless work of the expedition that has been of great benefit to the fauna, flora and people of the area.

At Oxapampa the team will hold the traditional Burns supper using the Stahly's tinned haggis from Scotland.

Dave Ellis commented, “It was a fascinating opportunity to see a little known part of Peru. Dave Smith (SES QM) said It was a most logistically challenging project. Botanist, Lyn Watson of New Zealand, described the adventure as “a great once in a life time experience and insight into the native peoples of the Palcazu region”.

Expedition leader, Colonel John Blashford-Snell said “This has been a higly  successful project in support of DRIS and the Yanachaga Chemillen National Park. We are especially grateful to all our supporters including American Airlines, Stephen Fry, Villa Piche, The Saint Georges Day Luncheon, The Scientific Exploration Society as well as Shirley Crithley and the kind ladies who knitted the teddy bears. We also appreciated the splendid help of our Peruvian drivers, boat man and interpreters. END