Ikamaperu’s story began exactly twenty years ago in the north-east of the Peruvian Amazon.
Around us we were witnessing the destruction of biodiversity, with no effective legal protection. The indigenous communities of Alto Mayo – the Awajun - were suffering from the combined impacts of a market economy, the introduction of agricultural monocultures and settlers invading their lands. The way of life, culture and soul were disappearing from these forest societies.
In 1997 with the help of local Awajun communities we created the first wildlife sanctuary:Tarangue It became the first place in Peru where woolly and spider monkeys confiscated from the illegal animal trade could live in free- ranging conditions and be rehabilitated into social groups.
We realised that we need to work right in the heart of the Amazon basin, where the majority of the hunting and trade originates and so we relocated to an area called La Media Luna, next to Pacaya Samiria National Reserve. There are communities of hunters all around and the river Huallaga is a main artery for trafficking. It’s the ideal place to start a wildlife conservation project. Having secured a 60 - hectare area of forest, El Shiringal, the next stage was to develop a centre for primate rehabilitation and environmental education.
Each child has given his own name to a tortoise
The cornerstone of the project is to restore the links between traditional cultures and respect for the natural world. Our team travels to isolated indigenous communities to run workshops using film or puppet shows. We have built an environmental education centre for local children, many of whom come from hunting families. Our educator works as a guide in Pacaya Samiria, and she is able to show children the links between a scientific approach to biodiversity conservation and indigenous knowledge.
Over the past 6 years, 1500 children have been sensibilised in local schools in Lagunas Drawing monkeys at Kaysuni
Writing letters to traffickers
Reinforcement of wild animal populations
By 2012 some of our rehabilitated primates were ready to be released into a protected wild area. Nine spider monkeys and eight woolly monkeys were released into a carefully selected part of the National Reserve. Reintroduction attempts are complicated and for many reasons, often unsuccessful. Since their release, 11 of the monkeys have been regularly re- sighted by our team and by rangers working within the reserve. During fruiting season, monkeys come to the release site to forage and last February we were able to recognise some of the group and to take photographs of the bigger males.
Copal 3 years later a male woolly monkey released in Pacaya samiria national reserve .
Spider monkey released in 2012 was identified last october
2012 First release for the reinforcement of wild populations of woolly and spider monkeys .
Kusui was born 3 months ago in the Shiringal forest.
Ikamaperu benefits from working with French and Peruvian ethologists. They come to study the monkeys, species that are very hard to track and to observe in the wild. In doing so they have collected some valuable knowledge, which betters our understanding of how the animals live and survive in social groups. Recently the birth of a baby woolly monkey into one of the groups provided a great opportunity to learn about the
group hierarchy and behaviour.
Students observing primate behavior from a platform in Shiringal forest
Incredible celebration of woolly monkeys after Kusui’s birth
La Media Luna is a beautiful setting for ecovolunteers, who come to help with animal care at the rescue centre. Each day begins with a routine of feeding and cleaning the monkeys, parrots and turtles. Monkeys are fed out in the forest at feeding platforms, under the supervision of one of the visiting ethologists.
Volunteers are able to help record observations about the monkeys’ behaviour, and also to take part in boat trips further into the forest, observing dolphins and collecting seeds and plants for an ongoing reforestation programme back at El Shiringal.
Expeditions along the river
Care for the orphans
Camp during expedition to observe river dolphins
Protection of natural habitats.
We continue to work in an environment where deforestation, illegal animal hunting and wildlife trafficking take place almost with impunity. Far from being discouraged, we feel that the friendship and support of everyone who has made this project possible is being vindicated. The forest and the wildlife around us at La Media Luna is coming back to life as a result of years and years of hard work on a reforestation programme.
Watching the monkeys foraging freely, and expressing themselves in natural behaviours gives us hope for future reintroduction efforts. And most importantly for the future, we see passionate young people from Peru and internationally who are ready to take the project forward. We are convinced that we did and will keep making a difference.
Thank you to all those who made this possible.