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09
Day five: Tuesday, June 9th
A group of at least six squirrels travel through camp and are tentatively identified as Pucheran´s squirrel (Notosciurus pucheranii ignitus), a species usually encountered in pairs or as solitary individuals. Meanwhile three lizard species are identified including the beautiful Cercosaura eigenmanni from the forest and the rose whorltail iguana lizard (Stenocercus roseiventris) from the savanna. Camera trap placement continues and three more bats are added to the list that increases to eight species. After three days camp life begins to settle down as everyone gets used to the rhythm of life in the field in a large camp of nearly 30 people.

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08
Day four: Monday, June 8th
After an evening of reviewing records of the first day our herpetologists confirm a new amphibian record for the park – Hypsiboas marianitae. Similarly, the ichthyologists find a suckermouth catfish (Astroblepus sp.) that is also a new park record. The bat team brings in five species in one night including the famous vampire bat (Desmodus rotundus). In the meantime the Herculean three-day task of setting 60 camera traps across 80 square kilometers begins for the large mammal team. Traversing the steep valleys and thick gallery forest is a major challenge, but one which the team relishes. 

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07
Day three: Sunday, June 7th
A busy day for all as methodologies for each study group are tested and adapted to the specific situations and scientists are out and about assessing the terrain. Small mammal traps are set in the montane savanna and a patch of adjacent gallery forest. Mist nets are primed for the evening targeting the areas bat species, and first fishing efforts in the Machariapo River. This habitat is very poorly studied and is also enclosed by montane humid forest and montane dry forest and as such it seems possible that significant endemism is possible. Another team visits the local community of San Jose to attend a meeting and further inform the authorities and community about the forthcoming research activities. In the evening the invertebrate specialist set up a light to attract nocturnal insects just outside our dining room - a giant mosquito net next to the kitchen – and the team is astounded by the diversity of moths that visit in just a few hours – probably over one hundred species of the ten thousand expected to occur in Madidi.

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06
Day two: Saturday, June 6th
An early breakfast at the Monasterio was followed by three ping-pong trips to our first camp site – “Camp Micrurus”, named after a beautiful coral snake encountered three weeks ago on the stake out for this study site. Beyond the Cabrayo or Altuncama escarpment, which with its steep rise and strange sandstone rock formations has the feel of Jurassic World, we arrived at the Machariapo River about 700 meters from the limit of Madidi National Park between the communities of San Jose and Sarayoj. We set camp along the rather precarious road to minimize impact on the gallery forest. During the day a splendidly bright male Andean cock-of-the-rock (Rupicola peruvianus) visited camp posing for our photographers, as if as a welcoming host. As we finished setting up tents and sat down for dinner thoughts and conversation turned to the work ahead over the coming days.

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05
At four thirty in the morning the Identidad Madidi team met to load vehicles with equipment, food, excitement, anticipation and smiles – after years of planning our adventure begins.Four cars and a truck traveled out of the almost deserted streets of La Paz, through the already busy El Alto and on to the Bolivian altiplano passing Lake Titicaca and its spectacular early morning views, through the hustle and bustle of Achacachi, and then on to the hills of the Apolobamba mountain range. After passing the highest point of the trip, Pumasani at 4,600m a.s.l., we began our descent on the eastern side of the Andes, stopping on the Charazani River in Apolobamba National Natural Area of Integrated Management, a spectacular national protected area that borders Madidi. A pair of torrent ducks accompanied our sandwiches as we re-grouped vehicles and dealt with a couple of punctures. Further down the road to Apolo we were delayed for an hour by a major landslide being worked on by municipal maintenance staff, but as evening drew in at seven thirty we arrived in Apolo to stay at the Monasterio Santa Ana.

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21

On the 15 th June the Identidad Madidi expedition began field activities in Madidi protected area in the savannas and gallery forests of Apolo and established the first research camp close to Machariapo river.  The expedition team is composed of 18 people: vertebrate specialists (mammals, birds, amphibians, reptiles and fish), invertebrates, botany, geography, photography and communications.

In the first day of sampling two new records for the park was obtained. On the one hand an andean sucker-mouth cat fish (Astroblepus sp.), bringing the list of fish to 193 species; and on the other hand a Hypsiboas marianitae  tree frog that raises the number of amphibians to 118.  The start of the expedition could not be more auspicious.



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