Saturday, March 5, 2011

News from the Drake internship placement

Hiking with Wanager (Pronounced Wan-ay-hey) -The weeks have passed quickly and we are down to our two last weeks of our 6 month internship.

Wanager is one of the staff members that we walk the trails with here in the project close to Drake bay. He has spent his whole life in the area and has over 30 years of experience hiking through the trails. Wanager has spent many years as a hunter however is now using his skills for the good of the world and all its little critters. 30+ years working in the surrounding forests has given him incredible identification and navigation skills not to mention his absurd fitness levels.
There are 3 trails which we monitor for frugivore (species whose main source of nutrition is fruit) activity. Walking the trails we record all frugivore activity around us. We record information on the behaviour, the fruit eaten from which tree and the part of the fruit eaten. Much of this information is not always able to be identified because the species are often out of sight. The information is used to determine which species are eating what highlighting species relationships.
It is incredibly impressive how Wanager (see photo below) can pick out the faintest of sounds not only this he can identify the species and tell the number of species in that location. Apart from this ability his animal impressions are especially impressive. Anyone who is lucky enough to meet him needs to hear his Puma impression, it is hilarious!

Wanager is such a character who will take any opportunity to show off. One of the first things he asked us was “how old do you think I am?” he is very proud of his fitness considering his age. He is 46 and passes through the challenging trails as if it was a casual stroll. He is far from camera shy and will for example happily jump up a tree to get an exciting photo.
Wanager’s limited English has really helped us to practice our Spanish. We help each other through conversations with big hand gestures and a great deal of Spanglish. He has helped our Spanish improve so much and has taught us different rude phrases and terms that will be of great use for future conversations.