Most of the Identidad Madidi team spend International Day of Biological Diversity at the Encounter for Forest Production and Biodiversity, Madidi, La Paz, 2016 in Calacoto, La Paz which is opened by the Minister of the Environment and Water. This event promoted community products with participation from more than 20 different products from the Amazon on sale at the fair. Meanwhile the Identidad Madidi team share their experiences with the public at a couple of stalls including environmental education activities with children, camera trap demonstrations and distribution of stickers, as well as a couple of presentations about Madidi and Identidad Madidi in the Gustu restaurant.
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Up early in the dark for a quick breakfast, and then a walk out from Chalalan to the Tuichi river, where as dawn breaks we board boats to travel back down the river during the continuing southern front with low lying cloud. After a couple of hours, we are back at Rurrenabaque, where after some fabulous croissants and coffee, the participants thank Chalalan once again and fly back to La Paz.
In the morning twelve community producers share their products with the chefs and press, explaining how they are produced and the challenges they have faced. At the request of Identidad Madidi, the Chalalan guides made a short and successful trip to find some wild vanilla pods for the chefs. The chefs were astounded at the size and aroma of the vanilla pods and encouraged San Jose de Uchupiamonas to start thinking a sustainable harvest for sale to restaurants in La Paz. After an exchange and another delicious Chalalan lunch, in the afternoon the participants split into three working groups to produce recommendations on how to promote sustainable products from the Amazon with urban markets. The Ministry of the Environment and Water formally closes the encounter, and then the Chalalan staff and San Jose de Uchupiamonas community members bring indigenous music and dance to the closing dinner.
The Danish Ambassador, the San Jose de Uchupiamonas community leader and the Director of Madidi National Park formally welcome the visitors and open the event. Identidad Madidi is then invited to give a presentation on the importance of Madidi National Park and the results of the expedition during 2015. After enjoying the wonderful cuisine of Chalalan, a local fish dish cooked in Heliconia leaves called Dunuquavi, Identidad Madidi and the local Chalalan ecotourism guides accompany the community producers, and the national and international chefs, on walks through the forest to forage for Madidi´s edible secrets. In the evening the chefs team up with the Chalalan kitchen to produce another fabulous fish dish using herbs and fungi from the forest.
After rest in Rurrenabaque, two of the Identidad Madidi team participate in the Encounter for Forest Production and Biodiversity, Madidi, La Paz, 2016, and in the early morning travel up the Tuichi river to the Chalalan Ecological Lodge run by members of the San Jose de Uchupiamonas indigenous community found in Madidi National Park. Over the next four days the team at Chalalan, which has a normal maximum capacity of around 40 visitors, will be challenged with 12 boats and around 75 visitors from the Ministry of the Environment and Water, community producers from Amazonian Bolivia who will showcase their local products to international and national chefs and press, as well as the Danish Ambassador and DANIDA, FOSC and WCS.
Most of the day is spent packing away equipment ready for our planned exit. In the late morning everyone is relieved at the arrival of the five boats from Rurrenabaque after a three day trip up the Hondo river. In the afternoon another new record for the park is discovered near camp, the fossorial, and therefore cryptic and difficult to observe, black-and-white or speckled worm lizard (Amphisbaena fuliginosa).
The vertebrate species list is approaching 400 species and everyone spends the last full sampling day enjoying the spellbindingly beautiful forest, streams and landscapes of this stunning location.
Rain arrives during the night and continues for most of the day. Camera trap teams venture out to collect the camera traps revealing the presence of puma (Puma concolor), jaguar (Panthera onca) and lowland tapir (Tapirus terrestris) including a painted youngster. Meanwhile, the ichthyologists have already reached Aguachile and continue their sampling for fish species.
Over the course of the last 12 days, black spider monkeys (Ateles chamek) have dominated mammal observations. The team had anticipated this as this highly frugivorous species prefers locations with local habitat diversity as afforded by the 700-meter altitudinal range of the Chepite escarpment. Victor Hugo Garcia pushes the bird list up to 196 species and the vertebrate list increases to more than 350 species for the trip.