BIAZA explore the heart of Brazil’s Atlantic Rainforest

 
BIAZA Trip to REGUA

Imagine seeing first-hand the tropical forests that have been saved through your own fundraising

BIAZA Trip to REGUA

Members of BIAZA zoos with Nicholas Locke (REGUA Director) and Adelei (one of REGUA's Rangers). Photo © Alan Martin

This is just what a group of World Land Trust (WLT) supporters recently experienced on a trip to Brazil. In December 2010, WLT council member Alan Martin – an expert on the birds of the region – took a group of 11 representatives from BIAZA zoos to visit the reserve to see what had been achieved through their fundraising.

BIAZA Trip Diary

The group visited the reserve’s wetlands to view the success of REGUA’s wetland restoration programme, in an area that had been drained for agriculture in the past. Almost 40 acres (16 ha) of habitat has now been flooded and has already been colonised naturally by an array of plants and aquatic species. A significant increase in other wildlife has also been recorded, such as Capybara and Caiman, which the group were delighted to see for themselves. They also trekked through the forests with the rangers who shared their experiences and wildlife knowledge. One member of the group, Graham Harvey, said:

“We had many highlights but for personal achievement mine has to be walking the “Red Trail” through prime forest – the view over the rainforest was just amazing and to come across a big old Lancehead Snake certainly concentrated the mind!”

BIAZA’s on-going support

REGUA Wetland

The restored wetland at REGUA, where the BIAZA group enjoyed watching Capybara that have returned to the reserve. Photo © Patricia and Graham Harvey.

Since 2006, WLT has been working with BIAZA (British and Irish Association of Zoos and Aquariums) to urgently purchase a strategically important parcel of land in Brazil’s Atlantic Rainforest to create a permanent wildlife reserve. BIAZA member zoos, across the UK, raised more than £120,000. This enabled WLT partner’s REGUA (Reserva Ecológica de Guapi Assu) to purchase 1,651 acres (668 hectares) of critically-threatened land, now known as the BIAZA reserve. Despite successfully completing this land purchase, BIAZA’s support for REGUA doesn’t end there; now that the land is secure it is vital that the forests and their wildlife are protected. Without the ten dedicated reserve rangers working for REGUA the conservation and protection of the reserve would be impossible. The rangers, all from the local villages of Guapiaçu or Matumbo, patrol the REGUA reserve to prevent poaching and habitat destruction. Yet lack of resources, such as simple essentials like suitable footwear, binoculars and backpacks, makes their work very difficult. Members of BIAZA are now involved in fundraising for the REGUA rangers, through WLT’s ‘Keepers of the Wild’ initiative which was launched at the beginning of 2011. WLT encourages everyone to get involved with the Trust in any way they can and, if possible, experience for themselves what can be achieved by working together for conservation of endangered habitats and their threatened species.

Messages from the trip-goers

Helen Cavilla, Education Officer, Newquay Zoo:

“The trip was amazing, I loved it! It was fantastic to see the wildlife at the BIAZA reserve, especially the Capybara. When’s the next trip?!”

Graham and Patricia Harvey, Curraghs Wildlife Park:

“We had an absolutely brilliant time in Brazil. This trip will stay in our memories for a long time and we really hope that this wonderful part of the planet has a future.”

Jo Limmer and John Hoggard, Associate Members of BIAZA:

“The experience was truly inspirational. Nicholas and Raquel, the Directors at REGUA, are doing a tremendous job, along with all the team and volunteers. When can we go again please?”

 

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