A while back we posted up a story from one of our more intrepid account guys who was travelling around South America. Well we’re happy to report he’s still alive down there, and has just sent over the following… Read on for machetes, pumas and plenty of jungle…
This past week I have been volunteering for a Bolivian wildlife refuge organisation known as Inti Warra Yassi. The organisation was set up 13 years ago to specifically care for animals and birds that had been rescued from captivity and who would never again be able to be set free into the wild.
Inti Warra Yassi was therefore founded on the principle that all animals should be cared for in an environment and in such a way that they get close enough to being “wild” again whilst at the same time being shielded from the problems of actually being released properly.
The organisation specialises in big cats (mostly pumas), monkeys and macaws.
With the current indigenuous president, Evo Morales, trying to shake up Bolivian government and local practices, now is a critical time for Inti Warra Yassi to change Bolivian mindsets that wild animals are purely there to make a quick dollar from. It was with this in mind that I ventured off the gringo trail, to find the newest park bought by Inti Warra Yassi in the remote jungle territory of the “selva”, north of frontier town Rurrenabaque.
Communidad Jacj Cuisi was bought just over a year ago, and offers 300 hectares of prime virgin jungle environment in which to rehabilitate jungle wildlife. The camp is basic (no electricity and no running water) but we seemed to manage OK. At present there are only two pumas there, but the reserve is hoping to expand quickly over the next 6 months with support from both Bolivian authorities and international funding.
The cats are sensitive creatures, so anyone staying less than three weeks was not allowed to handle or even be seen by the cats. My remit was therefore based on construction and trail maintenance. In my brief time at the reserve I helped dig foundations for a new water tower, built furniture for the new kitchen building and also spent two days out in the jungle clearing new trails for the pumas with a machete. In the humid tropics it is tough work, and the permanent staff of Comunidad Jacj Cuisi rightly deserve recognition for their hardy efforts.
With Inti Warra Yassi now leading the way in trailblazing new attitudes to conservation in Bolivia, theirs is a good example to follow for other third world countries.
At a time when it is difficult to convince such nations, many of which lead hand to mouth existences, that thinking of tomorrow is critical in terms of their own national development, not just environmental conservation, the work of organisations such as Inti Warra Yassi should be actively supported not just locally but globally as well.