On March 9th, six GDCI students left the snow and cold of Canada for the heat of the Peruvian Amazon. There they spent two weeks surveying river dolphins, macaws, monkeys, caiman, game birds, bats, fish, frogs and shore birds to contribute data to research being done by Dr. Richard Bodmer.
Mikayla Skyring, Nikki Marion-McMahon, Ashley Leis, Maddy Hill, Jack Little and Jaedon O’Neill joined teacher Melanie Ball on the Operation Wallacea trip. Operation Wallacea works with researchers around the world to match their scientific projects with students interested in international ecological research.
Dr. Bodmer, professor of Conservation Ecology at the DICE School of Anthropology and Conservation, Canterbury, Kent and president of FundAmazonia has been working with students in the Peruvian Amazon since the 80’s and Operation Wallacea since 2007. In that time he has seen over 50% of the Loretto Province (which encompasses the Peruvian Amazon) become protected and managed as community based reserves and national reserves. These positive changes have resulted from years of data collection and analysis by researchers and students, community desire for ecological management, and governmental support.
Throughout the trip students worked on three different surveys each day in small groups with students from two other participating Ontario high schools. In between they attended lectures by Dr. Bodmer on Rio Amazonas, survey techniques, and Amazon ecology and conservation. Lectures were also given by Chloe Metcalfe, OpWall lecturer and PhD candidate at London NERC DTP on taxonomy, the species of the Amazon, survey methods, and ecological concerns.
One favourite moment was visiting two local villages, seeing their homes, way of life, and playing games with the children. These visits are important to the research projects as it helps get local communities interested in the research and eventually involved in the projects. Several of our guides are hired from the local villages.
Other favourites were seeing owls, bats, yellow and blue macaws, sloths, pink river dolphins, caiman, and getting random cellular service for a quick contact home!
The trip ended with presentations by each group summarizing their experiences which included a 12 days of Peru song, sounds of the Rainforest, rainforest hangman, Amazon Pictionary, and staff appreciation speeches.
They all say this trip to the Amazon changed them and they hope it changes you someday too.