Tag Archives: Guyana

A Positive Start To Tulum

It entailed a full year of concentrated effort from the Art of Conservation Board, our executive director Allison Hanes, and myself to arrive at the decision of setting up our new base of operations in the Caribbean Basin and more specifically in the town of Tulum which is in the state of Quintana Roo in Mexico’s Yucatan peninsula. But we did it and we are off to a very positive start. Before I go any further I’d like to take a quick look back at the people we met along the way who inspired and welcomed us. Enjoy the pictures and thanks everyone for your encouragement.

Art of Conservation in Guyana ©Art of Conservation 2014

Art of Conservation in Panama ©Art of Conservation 2014

Art of Conservation in Honduras©Art of Conservation 2014

Art of Conservation in Mexico and Belize©Art of Conservation 2014

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Talking Otters at Yupakari

From Julie

Salvador de Caires joined Lucy, Allison, and I on Day 4 as we ventured by boat to Yupakari Village which is in the North Rupununi region of southern Guyana and about a 30 minute journey from Karanambu Trust and Lodge. While traversing through this terrain one is surely watched by any number of these fascinating animals: Giant River Otter, Black Caiman, Arapaima, jaguar, Giant Anteater, capybara, ocelot, margay, Howler and Capuchin monkeys, tapir, deer, peccaries, fox, frogs, toads, lizards, tortoises, snakes, birds, and insects.

Yupakari Village-Caiman House, Guyana. ©Art of Conservation 2013At the Caiman House with students.

One of Karanambu Trust and Lodge neighbors and partners who together work on land use schemes is Yupakari Village. Here they offer eco-tourism and a learning center called the Caiman House. I was so impressed with Caiman House and the librarians running it. Books, computers, and classroom are intact and used by the village children.

Fernando Li at Caiman House. ©Art of Conservation 2013Lucy, Salvador, Allison, and Fernando at Caiman House.

Fernando Li is the manager of the ‘Rupununi Learners’. After he so kindly got us situated on the top floor – it felt like we were in a fun treehouse – we began working with a group of boys and girls.

Yupakari Village-Caiman House, Guyana. ©Art of Conservation 2013Student Leya Moses studies photographs and paints.

Our focus was on Giant River Otters which the children refer to as ‘river dogs’. Lucy and Allison added to our discussion and moved about the room sharing photographs from Lucy’s previous trips to Karanambu. We used watercolors to paint a proportionally correct otter and illustrate a scene which included one or more river dogs. Thanks again to artist Amy Harris for her proportional drawings she did for us before the trip!

Yupakari Village-Caiman House, Guyana. ©Art of Conservation 2013Samuel Martdehaam busy experimenting with brushes.

At some point during the lively exercise, Lucy, Allison, and I all asked ourselves, “Where are you Eric, Eusebe, Valerie, Innocent, Olivier? We need your help!” Our Rwanda team was sorely missed!

Yupakari Village-Caiman House, Guyana. ©Art of Conservation 2013Student Samuel’s village scene illustration of a river dog, person with a collection of bird eggs delivered by the bird above, and a fisherman.

I loved our afternoon at Caiman House and want to thank Fernando and his colleagues for making it such a special time. Keep up the great work!

Please enjoy Lucy’s Giant River Otter photos below.

Diane McTurk with Giant River Otter  ©Lucy SpelmanDiane McTurk with Sappho and Tsunami. ©Lucy Spelman

Giant River Otter at Karanambu. ©Lucy SpelmanBelle, 2011. ©Lucy Spelman

Buddy at Karanambu. ©Lucy SpelmanBuddy eating an Arapaima.©Lucy Spelman

Please join us at our Exhibition & Fundraiser on November 22nd, 2013. For more information, please click here. Thanks.

Kwaimatta Village in South America

72-From-Julie-2013-new_rcs

While in most parts of the world everyone seems to be exploiting natural resources, cutting down rain forests, destroying fragile ecosystems, Guyana is doing something different. Under its Low Carbon Development Strategy, Guyana receives USD 50 million per year from international partners to protect its forests. Of course one needs to read in more detail to discern the pros and cons to this, but let’s be thankful for this long-term development plan and hope it works and others follow. Guyanas rain forests benefit us all no matter where we live.

The Karanambu team took Allison, Lucy, and I to communities in the Northern Rupununi to conduct our one health conservation activities. This entailed boating to get to the schools.

Geography at Kwaimatta Village. ©Art of Conservation 2013I started off with a geography activity. This young girl marched right up to the world map and placed the South America card in the absolutley correct place.

Our first village – Kwaimatta (Massara)- is the closest and perhaps most secluded of all three we visited. In general, this area is a critical watershed between the Amazon and Essequibo rivers. The open savanna and riverine plain is stunning.

Decorating animals masks at Kwaimatta Primary School, Guyana. ©Art of Conservation 2013We talked about the local animals and discussed what makes them so special and then out came the markers, crayons, and paper masks.

A number of the children attending Kwaimatta Primary School have parents that are employed by the Karanambu Trust and Lodge.

Decorating animals masks at Kwaimatta Primary School, Guyana. ©Art of Conservation 2013Children decorating their animal masks.

As you may remember from a previous post, Des Moines artist Amy Harris helped AoC with the otter, monkey, jaguar, macaw, and arapaima masks. Thanks again Amy! Do you love the masterpieces?

Decorating animals masks at Kwaimatta Primary School, Guyana. ©Art of Conservation 2013Blue jaguars in Guyana? Right on!

Here I am in a new part of the world – experiencing new cultures and trying out AoC’s curricula. It is safe to say that no matter where you are children want to learn and discover.

Decorating animals masks at Kwaimatta Primary School, Guyana. ©Art of Conservation 2013Salvador tries to scare the kids with his Red Howler Monkey mask. I think they are on to Salvador! Not scared at all.

We had a few extra moments to end our time at Kwaimatta so I did a quick oral health lesson with toothbrushes and paste for everyone.

Oral health at Kwaimatta Primary School, Guyana. ©Art of Conservation 2013Allison and Salvador distribute toothbrushes and paste.

Diane McTurk with students at Kwaimatta Primary School, Guyana. ©Art of Conservation 2013Diane McTurk with her Kwaimatta Village children.

It was a pleasure to end our class with outdoor craziness including singing and showing appreciation to the villages’ beloved Aunti Di.

Please join us at Pratt NYC on November 22nd. Get your tickets here!

One-Health Conservation At Karanambu

From Julie Ghrist

More on our recent trip to Guyana-

Andrea and Salvador de Caires manage the Karanambu Trust and Eco-tourist Lodge in Guyana, South America. Visitors are spoiled by their delicious garden-to-table snacks and meals, rum punches, and more. Andrea and Salador have lived such interesting lives and bring their experiences to Karanambu so with partners they are making it a perfect example of one-health conservation. What do I mean by one-health? Take a closer look at what goes on at Karanambu every day… research, training, tourism, community development, wildlife rehabilitation, wild & domesticated animal health, human health, water projects, environmental education, partnerships with surrounding eco-lodges and NGO’s, creating sustainable jobs for the local Makushi Ameridian population. And the list is not complete but I think you’ll agree it’s a lot for this off the beaten track enclave in the far interior of the country. One health conservation involves the consideration and practice for saving species by realizing that all living things are connected. There is hardly an aspect at Karanambu that is not being mindfully treated.

Please enjoy the following pictures and meet the special people of Karanambu. Allison, Lucy, and I miss them and look forward to seeing them again.

Andrea de Caires manages Karanambu Lodge. ©Art of Conservation 2013Andrea de Caires and friend Oswin. Oswin is a graduate from Dr. Godfrey Bourne’s CEIBA Biological Center ecology course and an artist.

At Kwaimatta Village with Salvador. ©Art of Conservation 2013Lucy, Salvador, Kwaimatta Primary School headteacher Iris, Diane McTurk, and school teacher. Iris is so pleased to receive a copy of Lucy’s recently published National Geographic Animal Encyclopedia. Click here to order your copy.

Jerry with his camera traps. ©Art of Conservation 2013Gerry Pereira. Gerry, the nicest guy, is everywhere doing everything at Karanambu. Here he is pictured fixing one of his camera traps during our morning hikes.

Jerry at his computer inputing data from his camera traps. ©Art of Conservation 2013Gerry inputing to his already huge database of the biodiversity in the area. He showed me loads of photos of the magnificent animals passing by his numerous camera traps.

Ronica at Karanambu. ©Art of Conservation 2013Ronica. Ronica, another graduate from the ecology course, is a fabulous role-model to her peers in the rural villages. She is making an income and furthering her education while keeping her strong connections with her land.

Getting of the plane. ©Art of Conservation 2013Royal, Marcie, son of Marvin’s, Marvin. Loving care is given to all members of the Karanambu family. Nurse Marcie transports a sick family member back to Karanambu to be close to his loved ones.

Salvador with Nurse Marcie. ©Art of Conservation 2013Marcie and Salvador. Relieved to get a sick family member back to Karanambu, Salvador and Marcie breathe a sigh of relief.

Thank you again Andrea and Salvador for your lovely hospitality.
More to come… classroom activities and animals!

Please go to www.karanambutrustandlodge.org for more information.

Over The Mountains Of The Moon

From Julie Ghrist

Allison, Dr. Lucy, and I had a few quick hours of sleep at the pretty Cara Lodge in Georgetown before our charter flight took us into the interior of Guyana. This remote and sparsely populated landscape is where in the 16th and 17th centuries Europeans believed that there was a place of immense wealth known as El Dorado. Searches for this treasure wasted countless lives and drove at least one man to suicide. Now El Dorado is referred to as a source of untold riches somewhere in the Americas. At the bottom of this post you’ll find Edgar Allen Poe’s poem where he makes reference of El Dorado being located ‘Over the mountains of the Moon’.

Georgetown to Karanambu, Art of Conservation 2013Allison and Lucy boarding Trans Guyana Airways charter flight to the Northern Rupununi region of Guyana.

A bit tongue-in-cheek, we were not searching for pots of gold – instead we were on a quest to find eager schoolchildren ready to engage in AoC’s one-health conservation education activities as well as view heaps of beautiful animals in their own biodiversity-rich landscape. Guess what? We found it all and more!

Guyana, Northern Rupununi by plane.  ©Lucy-Spelman 2013Approaching Karanambu Lodge in North Rupununi from the plane. Photo courtesy of Lucy Spelman.

As I mentioned before, Art of Conservation is honored to have been invited by Lucy and the Trust to Karanambu. Lucy has shared stories about Karanambu for all the years I have known her. And Allison and I were really looking forward to meeting the famous Giant River Otter Lady, Ms. Diane McTurk!

Meeting Dian McTurk and Ilsa. ©Art of Conservation 2013The legendary Ms. Diane McTurk greets us. We are joined by Dr. Ilze. (From left to right: Lucy, Allison, Ilze, Diane McTurk)

Ms. McTurk was born at Karanambu. Karanambu is a 100-square mile former cattle ranch her family owned that is now a Managed Resource Protected Area or at least headed that way thanks to the collaborative effort of the Karanambu Trust and partners. Diane is known for her work in rehabilitating orphaned giant river otters to the wild since 1985. The pelt trade, natural trauma, and people taking them as pets are the main reasons why she has ended up with more than 40 otters.

Allison with Diane McTurk. North Rupununi. ©Art of Conservation 2013Allison with Diane McTurk, the famous Giant River Otter Lady or Auntie Di as she is known all local Makushi Amerindians.

Before continuing to the lodge, Dr. Lucy was asked to make a quick house call to a sick bull calf. Marvin, a Karanambu staff member, was pleased to receive Lucy’s advise and after a few days the calf was feeling better.

Northern Rupununi with Diane McTurk.  ©Art of Conservation 2013Lucy and Diane treating Marvin’s sick calf.

At Marvin's. ©Art of Conservation 2013This fabulous toucan is the first bird I saw in Guyana.

There may be as many as 600 species of birds in this area. The number of all animals species found here is high and includes species that are rare in other parts of Central and South America. Perhaps this is because of an integration of 4 ecosystem types: wetlands, savannas, rivers, and forests.

Salador de Caires invites us to his boat. ©Art of Conservation 2013Salvador de Caires invites us onto his boat.

Our final stop for the day – Karanambu Lodge – requires a boat to get there. Salvador de Caires, who with his beautiful wife Andrea run the lodge with the nicest of hospitality, gets us there safely. More on Andrea and Salvador in my next post.

Lucy & Diane McTurk on our way to Karanambu House. ©Art of Conservation 2013Lucy and Diane.

This is just a glance at the very beginning of our trip. I have lots more to share with you. Please stay in touch. And here is the poem.

Eldorado by Edgar Allan Poe

Gaily bedight,
A gallant knight,
In sunshine and in shadow,
Had journeyed long,
Singing a song,
In search of Eldorado.

But he grew old-
This knight so bold-
And o’er his heart a shadow
Fell as he found
No spot of ground
That looked like Eldorado.

And, as his strength
Failed him at length,
He met a pilgrim shadow-
“Shadow,” said he,
“Where can it be-
This land of Eldorado?”

“Over the Mountains
Of the Moon,
Down the Valley of the Shadow,
Ride, boldly ride,”
The shade replied-
“If you seek for Eldorado!”

Artist Amy Harris Helps AoC

From Julie Ghrist

Allison, Lucy, and I are on our way to the Karanambu Trust and Eco-Lodge in Guyana, South America tomorrow for a week of activities with the local people in the North Rupununi region. Being invited and accompanined by Dr. Lucy Spelman, an AoC Board Member and active team member at the Karanambu Trust, is an honor. We are frantically putting together our supplies and education materials. Tomorrow morning is going to come quickly! Why even sleep tonight since we are leaving for our respective airports at 4:00am and still much to do?

With Amy Harris in Des Moines. Art of Conservation 2013Sitting with Amy Harris discussing animals, science, culture, and art.

I couldn’t have done all the prep work for the trip without the generous contribution from artist Amy Harris. Amy, an Iowa native, with a MFA and BFA in painting is a senior lecturer at Iowa State University’s College of Design. Amy loves drawing which is great because I asked her two weeks ago if she could create proportional drawings of the Giant River Otter, jaguar, Red Howler Monkey as well as straight on black and white outline drawings of these animals plus an arapaima fish and Red & Green Macaw. Her drawings are beautiful. I can hardly wait to meet the Amerindians of Guyana and work together with them with AoC’s one-health conservation education and health awareness activities. Truly a dream for me. Amy is expecting to see all of the photographs that Allison, Lucy, and I take of the children busy with the art activities.

Amy Harris with macaw drawing. Art of Conservation 2013This morning at Amy’s front door… picking up the last of the masks – the Red & Green Macaw.

To see Amy’s work please find her at Bent Edge Alchemy. Her work with fabric is beautiful. She tells me she had a lot of fun with these animal drawing exercises – I’m glad because she helped AoC in a BIG way!

Giant River Otter mask. Original drawing by artist Amy Harris. Art of Conservation. 2013Colored in Giant River Otter mask. Here we come Guyana!

Thank you Amy for your support. Once we return, we’ll share with you how you’ve helped touched minds, hearts, and imaginations in Guyana.

The job and everyday life-style of taking care of our animals, natural spaces, children, human & animal health is a joint effort by people of all disciplines. I hope that this is clearer to more people around the world. Artists, scientists, teachers, health professionals, tour operators, Moms and Dads, and on and on all need to be engaged in caring for our home, Earth.