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Expedition Updates: May 05, 2006

Expedition Map
How to use the map: This is Peru! Just "click and drag" to move it around, the slider on the left is how zoomed in or out your are. A marker is placed for each spot where the team camps, or for any special landmarks they see. Try clicking on the marker

May 05, 2006

printer.gifPrint this Notes From the Trail!

Update 18: Teamwork Helps Everything Survive

When I think back over the last month, dozens of images come to mind. I am reminded of the many things we have learned during Project Peru 2, and the challenges that our team has overcome with your guidance and help. In a way all of the plants and animals in the rainforest rely on each other to survive in the same way that Warren, Ruben, Anna, Patrick, and I rely on each other.

If you removed any member of our team, the rest of us would suffer. We have developed a system of team work and respect for each other. We have learned that the small things keep us working together as a team. Thanking someone for cooking dinner, telling others they are doing a good job, and sympathizing with a team member when they have had a hard day strengthens the bonds between us that ensure our survival.

The plants, animals, and people of the rainforest also rely on each other to survive. They build relationships, and require knowledge, resources, and skills necessary to maintain the delicate balance that allows thousands of different species to survive in the Amazon Rainforest. If a large section of forest is destroyed, or a species becomes extinct, it affects all of the other plants and animals in the forest.

The keys to keeping the forest healthy are knowledge and practice: just like working as a team. Getting to know my fellow team members has allowed me to learn their strengths and weaknesses, and figure out how they fit into our team. The more we practice working together, the stronger we become, which allows us to tackle even greater challenges.

The rainforest has learned how to maintain a healthy balance over thousands of years of trial and error. We need to learn as much as we can about the forest, so that we know how to help protect the plants, animals, and people that live there. We also need to work to protect large sections of rainforest so that the plants and animals have places, or habitat, to maintain the intricate relationships, which allow the forest to thrive.

I plan to continue to learn more about the flooded forest, and will work hard to raise awareness about this irreplaceable ecosystem. I hope that you will also continue to learn and explore this amazing place.

What can you do to continue to learn about and protect the Amazon Rainforest?

Keep Exploring!

Thank you for joining us and providing with some many great ideas, questions, and knowledge. I look forward to visiting with many of you during our post-adventure school visits. If you have not set up a school visit yet, please contact me at dave@wildernessclassroom.com, or give us a call at 312-505-9973 to schedule a visit.

I would also like to thank Eric, Andrew, and Amy for all of their hard work maintaining the website during Project Peru 2, and the dozens of volunteers, sponsors, partnering organizations, and private donors who have helped us produce Project Peru 2.


Monday's Dilemma seemed to spark many Student Explorer's imagination. From your suggestions we are planning to draft several letters to communities, government officials, and park officials explaining that tourism could bring a lot of money to region. However, tourists want to see as many animals as possible. Therefore we will suggest a system where locals can hunt limited numbers of animals in exchange in volunteering as conservationists and park rangers. We will also suggest ways to cater to tourists' needs and describe why they would want to come to the flooded forest.


Warren's, strong paddle strokes and expert canoeing and camping skills have been invaluable.

Ruben's ability to spot animals, and his knowledge of the plants and animals of the forest play a key role in finding content for the website.

Anna and Patrick started this adventure with very little knowledge of how the Wilderness Classroom worked, or what their roles would be. They proved to be fast learners and great team players.

The small animals, like this polka dotted tree frog are a constant reminder of the biodiversity found in the flooded forest.

The local people rely on some modern technology like this solar panel, which is used to power a radio and a light bulb at a remote ranger station. However, most of the food, shelter, and other things that people need to survive are still gathered from the surrounding forest.

Trek to the Top!

May 05, 2006

printer.gifPrint this Animals of the Amazon!

Update 18: Animal Relationships for Survival

May 05, 2006

We have seen tons of cool animals in the Peruvian rainforest. The great wealth of sun, water, nutrients and fresh air has made the Amazon rainforest alive with more life than any other place on earth. But life is not easy in the jungle; it is a world of endless life-or-death competition for survival. Trees and plants compete for sunlight and soil, while monkeys and macaws compete for the trees' fruits. The constant pressures of survival have made life forms develop unique natural advantages or specialized adaptations.

It seems as though every living organism in the jungle is highly adapted and most species are interdependent (known as mutualism). This means that they create a relationship where they help each other survive. For example, fire ants protect the Cecropia tree from vines and predators, and in return receive a perfect nest site. During the flood, many trees rely on certain fish to eat their fruit and at the same time, the fish disperse the plant's seeds for the coming dry season.

Several fish species have developed pectoral fins that they can use to walk across the forest floor when the floodwaters return to the river channel. The flexible river dolphins use sonar to locate their prey. Fish and many insects use their sense of smell to find food sources. Birds use keen senses of sight and hearing. Some animals, like monkeys, are arboreal (living in the trees); they use natural highways over 100 feet above ground. Arboreal animals have developed great balance, strong hands, feet or claws, and some use a prehensile tail as another way to hold on.

Pacaya Samaria National Reserve is a very bio-diverse region- meaning many different species of living things live there. Thanks to the help of our guides, Ruben and Warren, we've seen and recorded over 150 species of mammals, reptiles, birds and insects in the Pacaya Samaria. Keep in mind the most common defensive tactic, used by most animals in the rainforest, is simply to hide- so we were probably seen by many more creatures than listed here.



Wandering Spider
Black Tarantula
Wolf Spider
Golden-Webbed Orb Spider


Red-Bellied Piranha
Black Piranha
White Piranha
Armored Catfish


Insects- too many to name them all, here are some of the interesting insects

Leaf Cutter Ants
Bullet Ant- nailed Warren
Morpho Butterfly
Argent Sulfer Butterfly
Stick Bug
Tortoise Beetle
Fire Ants- stung Dave


White-Fronted Capuchin
Brown-Fronted Capuchin
Common Woolly Monkey
Squirrel Monkey
Southern Tamandua
Pink River Dolphin
Gray River Dolphin
Giant River Otter
Howler Monkey
Dusky Titi Monkey
South American Coati
Three-Toed Sloth
Black-Monked Saki Monkey
Collared Peccary
White-Lipped Peccary
Black Squirrel
Owl or Night Monkey
Saddleback Tamarind
Insect Bat
Fruit Bat
Long-Nosed Bat

Reptiles and Amphibians

Common Water Snake
Green Caiman Lizard
Clown Tree Frog
Black Caiman
Spectacled Caiman
Side-Necked Turtle
Golden Tegu Lizard
Forest Whiptail Lizard
King Toad
Smoky Jungle Frog
Giant Gladiator Tree Frog
Polka-Dotted Tree Frog


River Crab
Spotted Fresh Water Sting Ray
Churo Snail


Great Egret
Snowy Egret
Horned Screamer
Red-Bellied Macaw
Scarlet Macaw
Red-and-Green Macaw
Blue-and-Yellow Macaw
Chesnut-Fronted Macaw
Striated Heron
Capped Heron
Rufescent-Tiger Heron
White-Necked Heron
Ringed Kingfisher
Green-and-Rufous Kingfisher
Green Kingfisher
Amazon Kingfisher
Greater Ani
Smooth-Billed Ani
Great Black Hawk
Black Colored Hawk
Road-Side Hawk
White-Winged Swallow
Southern-Rough-Winged Swallow
Yellow-Headed Caracara
Black Caracara
Red-Throated Caracara
Black Vulture
Greater Yellow-Headed Vulture
Turkey Vulture
White-Throated Toucan
Yellow-Reached Toucan
Ivory-Billed Toucan
Wattled Jacana
Yellow-Billed Tern
Large-Billed Tern
Muscovy Duck
Plumbeous Kite
Gray-Headed Kite
Ruddy Pigeon
Laughing Falcon
Cobalt-Winged Parakeet
Dusky-Headed Parakeet
Pui Parakeet
Canary-Winged Parakeet
Lineated Woodpecker
Crinsom-Crested Woodpecker
Yellow-Tufted Woodpecker
Yellow-Rumped Woodpecker
Speckled Chacalaca
Plum-Throated Cotinga
Chestnut-Eared Aracary
White-Cheeked Jacamar
Tropical Kingbird
Red-Capped Cardinal
Lesser Kiskadee
Greater Kiskadee
Forked-Tail FlyCatcher
Masked-Crinsom Tanager
Yellow-Bellied Jacnis
Blue-Black Grassquit

The Great Black Hawk scans the river from its perch in a tree for crabs and fish along the banks.

A Green Caiman Lizard suns itself on a tree over the river. These lizards are able to dive in the river. They eat insects, fruits and turtle eggs.

A carachama fish sucks on Dave's finger with great strength. These fish can walk, using their pectoral fins, if they get stuck in the forest when the river level drops.

A Giant Gladiator Tree Frog hangs out on the wall at one of our ranger stations. Look at those sticky fingertip pads!

This deadly Wandering Spider came very close to ending our trip. It was in Patrick's pants for ten minutes before he noticed it and knocked it out. Somehow Patrick escaped without a serious bite!

A couple of Needlenose Gar fish are doing us a favor as they search for mosquito larvae. They also feed on smaller fish and do so by hunting in schools.

An Amazonas Parrot grips a high tree branch while squawking with its flock. Parrots are very abundant in the rainforest, but humans have hunted them for the pet industry and their colorful feathers.

Trek to the Top!

May 05, 2006

Update 18: How Do People Survive in the Flooded Forest

printer.gifPrint this People of Peru!

It has been a great honor spending time with the strong, humble, and resourceful people of the Amazon. We have learned so much about how they survive in the flooded forest. One common theme holds true in every village: the people that live in the rainforest depend on the land and the rivers for their survival. From the moment they wake up, they gather resources from the rainforest: wood for their cooking fires, papaya, bananas, and other foods from their gardens, and fish from the rivers. They use the valuable yucca root in all forms: fried, boiled, as the main ingredient in bread, and even in beer. They gather their meat from hunting animals such as the monkey, paca, and peccary. They build their houses using rainforest trees such as the mighty kapok and vines such as the tamishi.

The rainforest is their medicine cabinet. People use plants, such as the una de gato to prevent illness and to treat some types of cancer. Wild senna is used to treat fungal infections. During labor, women drink a tea made of coca leaves to stimulate contractions. After the birth of the baby, they drink the sap, or milk, from the capinuri tree to speed up the recovery process. The list of medicinal plants goes on and on.

People must build their only means of transportation, dugout canoes, out of trees from the rainforest. This process takes up to two weeks of hard labor. They wash their dishes, clothes, food, and bodies in the rivers. They gather their water for cooking and drinking from that same plentiful resource: the river.

The way the people in the rainforest live makes sense to me. This massive lowland forest of plants, trees, and animals provides everything the people need to be happy, healthy, and wholesome. They are thankful for all that the rainforest that gives them life.

As I continue on my path, I will carry the countless gifts and lessons that my new rainforest friends have given me. Thank you great forest for providing for us, and thank you friends for bringing me back to the Earth.

May the forest be with you,



Clothing is hand washed by the river and then line dried. When a woman in Yarina washed my clothes, the finished products were cleaner than if she had used a washing machine.

A typical meal consists of food from the rainforest: boiled bananas, yucca, and fish stew.

Bread is made from yucca flour. A huge clay oven stoked hot with fire is used to bake the bread.

The capinuri tree sap is given to women after childbirth. The sap is also used to prevent hernias and to treat back pain.

Huge bunches of bananas are common in most peoples kitchens.

Trek to the Top!

May 05, 2006

Update 18: Can We Save the Rainforest?

printer.gifPrint this Daily Dilemma!

Rainforests all over the world are disappearing rapidly. In fact, many experts believe that rainforests are shrinking at a rate of one hundred acres per minute. That number seems hard to believe for most of us. But I am sure if we asked the plants and animals whose habitats are shrinking daily, they would tell a similar and very sad story.

We have learned about the many reasons for the disappearing rainforest, and sadly,they can all be blamed on humans. As we know now, the Amazon is full of thousands of desirable plants, trees, and animals. Many people will go to great lengths to get these things. Many pharmaceutical companies are in hot pursuit of tropical plants for modern medicines. Many do not harvest the plants sustainably, which won't allow the plants to continue to thrive. Illegal loggers after valuable wood are not uncommon. They will cut down entire areas of rainforest for the motive of money. The constant quest for oil leaves nothing but mounds of mud in places where monkeys and birds once lived. With the logging, oil, and pharmaceutical industry, comes building roads that further destroys the rainforest.

If the rainforests are to survive, there must be cooperation between the countries that are home to the forests and the companies that want the natural resources, like plants and trees. But how do they do this? How do we still use the valuable gifts from the rainforest without destroying it while doing so? Unfortunately, this complicated dilemma will continue until more aggressive action is taken to preserve our rainforests: the lungs of the earth.

Thanks for working with us to preserve the rainforests!

Patrick, Anna, and Dave

May 05, 2006
Trek to the Top!


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