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Published: February 19th 2007
Estacion Biologica Ecuador’s Rainforests
Where I stayed for over a week.
Through friends in Quito I had the opportunity to be an Expedition Leader for a British group of Gap year students, taking them into the Jungle where I would spend a week and half helping with conservation with all expenses covered not to mention pay as well. So naturally I jumped at the opportunity.
The Tropical Rainforests of Ecuador are unique among the World as they contain so much variety of plants and animal species, not in great amounts but in great diversity.
There are 300 different species of trees found in one hectare alone compared to North America which has 500 species in its entirety also there are around 25 000 species of plants present in the country, which represents approximately 10%!o(MISSING)f all plants in the world of these plants two thousand are medicinal which are thought to have been used by indigenous Amazonian people, about 1,000 continue to be of daily use in Ecuador. There are around 800 different species of Butterfly and Ecuador is the country with the highest bird diversity per square mile in the world. Over 1,600 species, more than double than US & Canada combined.
350 different species of Reptile
Swam here on most days
also exist within Ecuador and its Rainforests and Scientists estimate that 60,000 species of insects exist in a single hectare of rainforest.
This is all being threatened by the Oil exploitation happening within the Rainforests where extensive damage is being done as the methods of drilling for Oil are extremely harmful to plant and animal life releasing Radiation, Mercury, Carbon and Oil into the environment as well as the construction of major roads destroying the surrounding land and rivers. Jatun Sacha Biological Station
The Jatun Sacha Biological was established in Amazonian Ecuador in 1985. Based on early conservation, research and community extension work, the Jatun Sacha Foundation was legally established in 1989.
The Foundation is a non-profit private Ecuadorian nongovernmental organization dedicated to the conservation, investigation, management of ecologically important habitats, and environmental education and community development.
This was the base from which to work from and there were many different volunteers and scientist coming through. I happened to make friends with an Israeli Entomologist who taught me a fair bit and helped me name a lot of the insects and plants I had photos of. He also took me out looking for Scorpions using a UV light as
Painted Belly Monkey Frog
His eyes close but open when you pour water on him as he likes the rain.
they show up Green against the blue.
The day would begin at six where we would get up and be at Breakfast for 6.30 and then head out to Ishpingo or the Organic Garden around 7.30 be back for Lunch at 12.30 and then head out again at 1.30 and then work to around 3-3.30 depending on the heat.
Normally it being the Rainforest it rains a lot and you don’t have to work but while I was there it rained only a few hours in the whole week and a half which meant very hot days getting abused by Insects. Ishpingo Botanical Garden
The Ishpingo Botanical Garden is dedicated to the ex-situ conservation of plant species native to Amazonian Ecuador. Included in the 10-hectare garden, are eleven theme gardens including useful medicinal plants, ornamental plants, native fruit and nut trees of the area, orchids, heliconias, fine hardwoods and others. There is a visitor center and educational complex where botany, dendrology and additional conservation and sustainable development courses are hosted on a year around basis. This botanical garden was developed on collaboration with the Missouri Botanical Garden in the early 1990’s as an eco-tourism initiative.
This is where I
For this shot I had to stay really still for around five minutes until the Bee felt safe enough to take from the Flower again.
spent most of my days doing somewhat conservational work as there were a lot of volunteers at this time so our job was to keep the Gardens in good appearance.
Here they also have the legendary Plant Ayuhuasca which is a Hallucinogen used by the local Shamans in their rituals. David the guide to Ishpingo told us that an Australian had decided to make his own "brew" of Ayuhuasca and got the dosage wrong having now spent the last two months in the Psychiatric unit of the Hospital in Tena.
Working here was on some days a pleasure being able to pick fruit of the trees and head down to the Rio Napo for a swim on other days in was a complete chore sweating ridiculously in the heat which attracts all manner of insects which Bite, scratch, sting and suck you blood while also having to watch out for the irritating plants. Organic Garden
This was a fairly recent development and a good idea, here they try to experiment with what you can grow in the Rainforest as there are difficulties with the soil and insects as when it rains it tends to wash away vast amount of
nutrients from the soil.
Also they have here three species of Bannana Plants a popular one being Plantain which they sort of fry tasting similar to potato. The weird thing I found out about Bannana trees is they only fruit once so after that they chop them down to let the next ones grow through.
At the Garden they only use one hundred percent natural methods to grow so that involves using worms to help the soil and making a compost heap from the left over food from the kitchen. This is then used further to help grow different vegetables and fruit for the food and the station helping them be somewhat self sufficient. Torre (Tower)
The Tower which is around fifteen minutes walk from where our Cabins are is the opportunity to see the whole landscape of where we are in the Rainforest, except it only happens to be a foot wide and about 90 feet high.
As I got to it I wasn’t really prepared to see something so tall and so thin and while most people take a harness for safety I hadn’t and I was damned if I was going to walk all the way
The Bat House
This is where a family used to live and grow Coffee but as its bad for the soil they had to move on and now the Bats live there.
back to get one so I made the climb with trying to think too much.
As you get two thirds of the way up you begin to pass the tree top canopy and the whole things begins to sway a little uneasily and as you have to see your where you are placing your feet you have no choice but to look down.
Once your up the top though you flip the hatch and make your precarious seat to admire the surrounding views of continuous trees as far as the eye can see only broken up by the Rio Napa.
The bad news was having only just made the journey to the top dark rain clouds were moving in and a massive crack of thunder rolled towards me. Now being perched on essentially what is a lighting magnet I decided to head back down double time but it was a great experience and one I’m glad I did.
The Rainforest is an amazing place and not as frightening or alien as one might think and its incredible to think that everything you need to sustain yourself exists in abundance from painkillers to mouthwash its all there and the indigenous
people of the area have a massive knowledge of the plants which can still have the opportunity to help people all around the World. They haven’t advanced with mankind because they are not required to, they live in a manner which is in balance with the environment something which the majority of the worlds people can not say yet strive to do.
I also met a Woman named Christina who was working with the people there to help standardise herbal medicines producing a better undiluted natural cure for the World, helping give financial income to a much needed area. It seems strange that such an important area, not just for Ecuador but for the whole World attracts so little attention when it is being destroyed for a profit.
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