When outside business interests could possibly clash with nature and indigenous people, then one of the organizations that may check out the whys and wherefores that will lead to appropriate conservation and local community needs, is based here in Chicago. It is the Rapid Inventory Program of The Field Museum.
Recently, two Rapid Inventory teams flew into Medio Putumayo-Algodón in the northern part of Peru near the Columbian border to survey flora and fauna and talk with its communities. One of the results is a fabulous record in photos of some of the area’s wildlife taken by motion activated camera set-ups near where the animals ate. Click here to see the animal “selfies.”
“The place is teaming with wildlife,” said Rapid Inventory Director Corine Vriesendorp, a member of the excursion. It’s a place scientists have not gone before. It still has abundant wildlife unlike other places in the Amazon that have been hunted out. It’s amazing,” Vriesendorp said.
She explained that conservation decisions and efforts have to be made early in such places as the Andes and the Amazon rainforest because mining and other threats move in quickly.
“We survey early for best biological and social information,” she said, adding that one team looks for what makes the area special for conservation and a second team visits local communities.
“They learn how the communities make a living, what their strengths are and their vision for the future. Where we went their basic needs come from forests, rivers and streams.”
As to the economic impact, Vriensendorp pointed out that the communities have lived through boom and bust and are familiar with their impact because they were in the heart of the rubber boom and problems
On the biological side, she’s excited about what exists in the area. “There were a lot of animals we had detected from their calls and dens and tracks, but were not seen .Now we have a sense of what lives in the place. The value is what we now have on record,” she said. Among the special animal selfies was a rarely seen giant armadillo, a rare bird and rare short-eared dogs.
Vriensendorp summed up the trip saying, “It was a powerful experience.”
(Ed note: A few years ago, Columbia and Peru apologized to their people for allowing a rubber boom that destroyed families, health and nature. The UN has since met to discuss rubber issues. Rubber explorations are again a topic but with different methods of extraction)