1-21 JULY 2014
Child with pet Tamarind. Children with Spectacled Bear puppets
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 15,000 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.
Sitrep 2 - Expedition has been working for four days in a narrow valley West of Yanachaga Park. Mountains closing create a steep sided gorge and the unsurfaced road 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 Capt Ellen Bartlett of the Royal Army Dental Corps has had over 50 patients and Dr Katherine Welland has treated over 200. The local health Director, a doctor and a dentist are helping.
Clarkson from New Zealand has been advising
the local people on agriculture and prompting the children to protect the
environment and especially the spectacled bear. Using 'spectacled bear' teddies
and puppets the team has encouraged children to persuade their parents not to
injure the bears. These shy creatures live in the towering jungle cloud mountains and occasionally raid the farmers'
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 10000 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.
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”.
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.
As the expedition drew to a close the team heard of a farmer at Oxapampa
who was trying to protect the spectacled bears. They sometimes raid
local crops and one had been shot so he started putting maize and
avocados inside the forest
to keep them there away from danger. Dr Amy Hall, Gregory Guida and
Ben Clayton went to see if they could find any bears and discovered
fresh tracks of five near the food dump but did not actually see any.
However it is encouraging that the farmer is trying
to protect them.