Ascending South America 2018
Ascend of South America River Expedition 2018
In Partnership with Douglas Trent.
STORIES TO BE TOLD, by Douglas.
I have been working with film crews for decades, most recently with Ammonite in the UK for a show on the big cats.
There are several stories to be told. The area of my research is unique, as there is a 4 to 5 meter rise and fall in river levels. Right now it is approaching its peak, with a meter above land and water covering everything. Most land mammals leave the region and later return. This means that giant river otters don’t have long term nest sites as they do in other parts of the Pantanal and Amazon. When the water rises, the fish spread out and into the flooded forests, so the food source is scarce. In the dry season, the rivers again form, and the otters make new nesting sites, and raise their young.
I have documented 72 different jaguars since 2005, that use this region, but they too abandon most of the area in high water, and the cats that show up the next dry season are usually cats I have not previously seen. I also have documented the apparent dynamic balance (the 5th principal of ecology) of jaguars and capybara, their favorite food in my study area. In 2008 both jaguar and capybara populations peaked, and then crashed over the next few years, as the jaguars ate most of the capybara. In 2017, the populations seem to be peaking again, a 9 or 10 year cycle.
I terms of people, there are professional fishermen that are a dying breed as most are older and the young are less interested. This is also the area where jaguars killed a local fisherman, and another most likely, as he disappeared while fishing alone, and later his boat, jaguar tracks, blood and pieces of his clothes were found, but the body was not recovered. Yet another man working at a cattle ranch was attacked with the jaguar grabbing his forearm, until the guy’s dog got the cat’s attention and then others arrived. His arm has heeled, but apparently he was fired due to jealousy, as he was getting a lot of media attention and his boss was not. We can probably locate him.
Our program, Bichos do Pantanal, www.bichosdopantanal.org, the Pantanal Wildlife Program, with corporate sponsorship, operated between 2013 and 2015. We got 12 research papers published, some 44,000 children into the field with binoculars and people I had trained to connect them to nature, and trained a number of nature tour guides including English lessons from a volunteer from the University of Kansas, a partner in the program.
Caceres, Mato Grosso, has one of the lowest HDI ratings in the state, and we are well connected there. There are also numerous large cattle ranches and companies that own hundreds of ranches. We can get you into these places as well.
The Serra das Araras Ecological Station is a federal reserve I work with in a research program documenting and photographing the birds of the reserve. It has the highest bird diversity of any reserve in the Cerrado biome in Brazil. This research project will compare the bird species there now with a research paper that established the species list for 2011. This will not only produce photos…see some attached, but also show if the reserve is maintaining it’s bird biodiversity.
One of our partners from Unemat university in Caceres has documented that deforestation in the headwaters is responsible for the siltation of the Paraguay River, affecting fish populations. Mercury from gold mining is also a problem.
Jump on board, if you love adventure and nature
Douglas and Andy