Discover what it is like to volunteer with a World Land Trust (WLT) partner organisation, as they face the challenges of protecting Brazil’s threatened habitat and wildlife in the Atlantic Rainforest
After visiting REGUA in the heart of Brazil’s Atlantic Rainforest, Helen Cavilla could not wait to go back. Taking time off from her job as an Education Officer at Newquay Zoo in Cornwall, Helen has embarked on a six month sabbatical to volunteer at the wildlife reserve. Newquay Zoo have supported WLT for several years through BIAZA (the British and Irish Association of Zoos and Aquariums) and have helped save the BIAZA Reserve, 1,651 acres of Brazilian Atlantic Rainforest, with REGUA. BIAZA is a professional body representing the best zoos and aquariums in Britain and Ireland. They have been a long-term supporter of WLT and have been instrumental in funding, and encouraging their members to fund, land purchase in Brazil, helping extend REGUA’s reserve. In December 2010, a group of representatives from BIAZA zoos and aquariums went to see first-hand what was being achieved with their donations. It was on this trip that Helen became passionate about volunteering at the reserve. Helen will post regular updates about her experience, learning about the challenges that face REGUA as they work tirelessly to protect the Atlantic Rainforest.
Volunteering at the REGUA Reserve: Helen’s Atlantic Rainforest adventure
“I arrived at the Guapi Assu Bird Lodge on the REGUA Reserve very late at night on 13 June in complete darkness, with the sounds of the forest all around. On waking in the morning a beautiful scene greeted me; forest-covered mountains cloaked in mist, almost blue in the morning light. It wasn’t long before the winter sun burnt off the mist and the stunning surroundings became clear. “The first morning in the reserve began with a walk through the restored wetlands and the replanted forest – the abundance of wildlife is evident. Everywhere you look and listen there are birds, butterflies, cicadas, capybara, caterpillars, signs of puma and not forgetting the vast array of plant life. “I have come to REGUA to volunteer for many reasons. The first is to help Nicholas and Raquel, the project managers, with running the lodge; giving them a helping hand looking after the guests who come to stay. Many of the guests are birdwatchers who travel from across the world to spot the 450 plus species that frequent REGUA, many of which are endemic and therefore not found anywhere else on Earth. “My role as a volunteer will involve hospitality, administration, liaising with REGUA staff and having to speak Portuguese, mas eu nao falo Portugues muito bem atualmente! (But I do not speak Portuguese very well these days!). The staff are very helpful and probably find my Portuguese amusing. “I am going to be at the lodge for the busy period over the Brazilian 'winter', until the end of November. I put winter in inverted commas as the shortest day last week was in the high 20s; a good summer’s day in England. It’s chilly for the locals though, as many of them don jumpers, trousers, and hats – even a scarf was spotted last week. “I am looking forward to the opportunity to become immersed in a conservation project in the Atlantic Forest, to learn about the intricacies of running a reserve and the importance of working with the local communities. “The challenges of conservation in a completely different country will be interesting to see. I will also get to meet the many different people who come to REGUA to volunteer, bringing their skills, energy and enthusiasm. Luckily after a day’s hard work as a volunteer there are the delicious caipirinhas, Brazil's national cocktail, to savour.”
Read Helen's blog for further updates.