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Batten Down the Hatches…

February 4, 2015

…the rainy season is back at Las Tangaras!

There are few things better to sooth the soul and ease the mind than a walk through the cloud forest in the rain. The lush, noisy forest seems to come alive as the rain begins to fall. As you place one foot in front of the other in a meander underneath the misty canopy, with all senses tuned to the vast world around you, one can truly focus on the here and now. Thousands of frogs echo in a symphony of calls. The clicks and pops of rain splashing off of orchids quickly makes the mind forget the clicks of clocks or pops of engines in the world outside of the reserve. Such enchantment is a typical day at Reserva Las Tangaras.

089We are Tom and Amber, the newest generation of managers at Reserva Las Tangaras. As we made our first trek into the reserve with the previous managers, Parks and Alexia, it only seemed fitting that we experienced it in a downpour, for the rainy season had arrived in Ecuador. As we crossed the swing bridge over Rio Nambillo to enter the reserve, we were welcomed home by millions of raindrops, and the smiles on our faces could not have been bigger. It did not take long to be captivated by the beauty and tranquility of Las Tangaras.

Something inside us draws us to remote places, rich with a bounty of peace and tranquility, as far from the city as one can travel. For other like-minded folk out there, you know what we are talking about. Perhaps it’s the feeling of serenity you get when you stand on a river bank and feel the cool wind howl up the river, thrusting forward a torrent duck in its gust. Perhaps it’s the challenge of the wilderness experience, where you are constantly tested and often succumb to mistakes which only make you wiser. Perhaps it’s the exhilaration you feel at 6:00AM when the first Andean Cock-of-the-Rock comes screeching in to its lek for its daily mating display. Or perhaps it’s the feeling of living in the present, deep under the canopy of a dense cloud forest which seems to engulf you in its non-judgmental and complex atmosphere. For many of us, these things are in our blood. We have a burning desire, not only to live experiences such as these, but to conserve such processes so that our grandchildren, and all life on Earth for that matter, can have such experiences for years to come. It is at places like Reserva Las Tangaras where such magic is happening.

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Misty morning at Las Tangaras

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Sunlight through the canopy after a heavy rain

Much like a rain drop, Reserva Las Tangaras is a relative small element on a vast planet. However, one must not be fooled by its size, because its influence extends far beyond it’s borders. The area in which Reserva Las Tangaras lies, at the meeting of Ecuador’s lowland jungles and Andean cloud forest, is among the most diverse terrestrial environments on our planet. The bounty of life is astounding; one tree alone seems to harbor hundreds of species including different plants, insects, birds, amphibians, and mammals. Unfortunately, this diversity is under threat by exploitation of humans. At the coast, over 90% of Ecuador’s once vast mangrove forests have been replaced by shrimp farms and towns. Moving inland, the lowland jungles have been rapidly replaced by ‘biological deserts’ of banana plantations and many of the once rich forests at the elevation of Las Tangaras have been clear-cut for agriculture. The Valley of Volcanoes to the east of Las Tangaras has been overwhelmed by urban areas and highways. Even further to the east, in the lands of the Amazon, oil and mining has had detrimental environmental repercussions for the forests, the rivers, and all of its inhabitants, including humans. Of course, such issues are not characteristic of only the small country of Ecuador, but they are happening all over our planet as the population of humans explodes and our anthropogenic impact on the world becomes more intense. Places like Reserva Las Tangaras are critical in conserving the natural systems of our planet that we all depend upon in every aspect of our lives.  023

A single raindrop may do little to change the water level of a stream; however a hundred thousand rain drops, together, can change a still water to a raging current. The same can be said for small tracts of protected land that, together, act as a web to connect isolated and fragmented ecosystems and function as buffers to larger protected areas so that migration of wildlife is possible between habitats and the resiliency of our natural systems are preserved. Reserva Las Tangaras is another vital piece of this web. As long as the rain continues to fall, Reserva Las Tangaras will serve as a sanctuary, welcoming all forms of life to enter and be sheltered from the world beyond.

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Thousands of rain drops, together, caused Rio Nambillo to flood!

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