Tropical Conservation Semester Returns from the Coast
Ceiba’s primary conservation programs are centered in and around the Lalo Loor Dry Forest reserve, on the coast of Ecuador, where the TCS program just spent an enjoyable, educational, and hard-working week. Students learned about what distinguishes a dry tropical forest from the more familiar rainforest, practiced vegetation sampling techniques (while occasionally sliding down steep hills!) , and helped the reserve’s Science Coordinator, Luis Fernandez, by planting trees in the reserve’s new agro-forestry demonstration plot. All the while we were accompanied by the ever-present Mantled Howler Monkeys that wandered frequently through camp (perhaps they wanted to attend lecture?). Wildlife sightings also included a few nocturnal snakes, some lovely tarantulas, a tayra (large, semi-arboreal predator on birds and lizards), and even a rare speckled caecilian (legless and largely subterranean amphibian). The visit wrapped up with a visit to a nearby finca, a farm planted with a diverse mix of food plants: plantains, bananas, mangoes, avocados, chocolate, coffee, yuca, and more. We survived a downpour, the crossing of a fast-swelling river, and even helped rescue a mired pickup truck by pushing it up a muddy hill. All in a days work, and learning, for a Ceiba field course!