Rio Pucuno Foundation: Projects and Ongoing Support
Forest preservation in Sumaco has to be addressed in several ways. First and foremost is raising money to buy and preserve primary forest in the Rio Pucuno/Sumaco area. RPF solicits donations large and small to help us with this.
Secondly, we know that we cannot operate in a vacuum; global warming and loss of primary forest are of world-wide concern. However, to effect change, one must look and act locally. If we ask people to live differently, and we must, in order to save some of the forest that we can't afford to buy, they must be given economic alternatives to a slash and burn way of life.
At their request we are currently working with people living in Pacto Sumaco, the community nearest us, helping them develop their own sustainable ecotourism projects as an alternative to cutting forest, and are seeking contributions and grants to help out with this.
To help us at Wildsumaco, we employ both local indigenous people as well as our neighbors from Pacto Sumaco. We're currently training several people to become local bird guides, giving them an income and a career to be proud of.
Finally, RPF is committed to promoting education and scientific inquiry into this relatively understudied area, and to this end has entered into a long-term agreement with 2 American universities and Wildsumaco Wildlife Sanctuary S.A. to build and run the brand-new Wildsumaco Biological Station (WBS). Some preliminary mammal studies have already been undertaken, but if you're associated with an educational institution and seek research opportunities for yourself or your students in the unique Sumaco area, please contact us with ideas or questions, or to make a reservation for a stay there with a class. Much additional biological research is needed in Sumaco, especially in the fields of ornithology, botany, entomology, mammalogy, herpetology and related areas.
Rio Pucuno Foundation urgently seeks grants and donations to further these goals. No contribution is too small; donations add up quickly, and all help us preserve the forest and the animals living in this important part of Ecuador.
Rio Pucuno Foundation's general fund is arguably our most important fund. It's used for a number of purposes, including but not restricted to buying forest, salaries to forest wardens who help us preserve our trees and animals from poachers, plus miscellaneous costs including some office expenses. This is our vital, working fund, and all undesignated donations are put here.
Donations specifically designated for our forest fund are used solely for the purchase and preservation of forest in critical parts of the Sumaco area.
The education fund is used for any of our educational projects, including training courses and local eco-tourism incentives.
1. Rio Pucuno Foundation (RPF) and Wildsumaco Wildlife Sanctuary S.A. (WWS) have begun an exciting collaboration with Francis Marion University (FMU) in South Carolina, and University of North Carolina, Wilmington (UNCW) involving as well faculty and students from Jacksonville University in Florida, and from the Catholic University in Quito, Ecuador.
Partly to train students in field biodiversity techniques, and partly to begin a series of research projects in Sumaco, a group of faculty members and students from FMU and UNCW visited Wildsumaco in December 2008 and 2009. From those initial brief visits, several scientific papers and presentations developed, and more visits and studies followed, and agreements were reached.
Wildsumaco Biological Station (WBS) is now open. Built as a joint venture between RPF, WWS, FMU and UNCW, we had an informal January opening, with an official ribbon-cutting taking place in March 2012. Officials from all institutions attended during week-long activities. The facilities of WBS will be available to faculty and students of all universities wishing to undertake biological studies in the Sumaco area. Please contact us for additional information and reservations.
Using camera traps, students from FMU and UNCW have run studies on Wildsumaco's trails. Photos give visual proof of some of the exciting wildlife living in the Sumaco area. These species include PUMA, JAGURUNDI and the near-threatened and declining MARGAY are top feline predators, as well as RED BROCKET DEER, GREATER GRISON, BLACK AGOUTI, COATI, PACA, COLLARED PECCARY, SOUTHERN TAMANDUA, TAYRA, NINE-BANDED ARMADILLO, COMMON OPOSSUM, plus a host of smaller animals, including birds.
Other species that have been seen in our protected forests include WHITE-BELLIED SPIDER MONKEY, KINKAJOU, SPECTACLED BEAR, TWO-TOED SLOTH, NAPO TAMARIN, WHITE-FRONTED CAPUCHIN MONKEY, RED HOWLER MONKEY, and WHITE-TAILED DEER.
The presence and rich diversity of of these other animals confirms what we already seen from the variety of bird species here - the forests owned and protected by Rio Pucuno Foundation and Wildsumaco Wildlife Sanctuary constitute a healthy, mid-Andean elevation ecosystem, providing excellent habitat that supports a wide range of important animals and birds.
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2. Cerulean Warbler, the most rapidly declining songbird of North America, winters in the Andes from Venezuela south to Bolivia, with the largest numbers of them staying in the foothills of Colombia and Ecuador. Ceruleans overwinter every year in the Rio Pucuno/Sumaco area, and any forest that we can buy here will directly assist this species by preserving much-needed winter habitat.
We are beginning a long-term project to study the ecology of Ceruleans and other migrants wintering here, including Olive-sided Flycatcher, Canada Warbler and Western Wood-Pewee, to better understand their habitat needs. We are currently working with Plymouth State University, New Hampshire, trying to establish a long-term study of North American migrant birds, with an emphasis on Swainson's Thrush.
3. At present we are training several individuals from the village of Pacto Sumaco and from one of the local Quichua Indian communities to become local bird guides for visitors to the Sumaco area. Employment in ecotourism gives people pride in a career, as well as financial reward, and will help increase community understanding of eco-tourism's benefits.
4. Have you ever been on a canopy tower? Everyone who has, knows how different and exciting the world is, viewed from the top of the forest, versus from the ground. Life abounds at the top, and flowers, birds and other animals seen as specks from the ground, live up here and can be seen at eye level as they go about their life's business. Such a tower would benefit birders, scientists and general eco-travelers alike.
However, since our focus at Wildsumaco Wildlife Sanctuary and Rio Pucuno Foundation is forest purchase and preservation, we can't see our way clear to divert funds to build such a tower. We're looking for an "Angel" or a group of supporters who will help us raise the estimated $40-50 thousand dollars needed to build such a tower. If the thought of a canopy tower excites you, can you help us out with this dream?
5. In accord with our belief that every penny helps, profits from the Wildsumaco bar and gift shop go to Rio Pucuno Foundation.
Andean Birding donates 5% of all their profits from birding tours in South America, Central America and Mexico to Rio Pucuno Foundation's Forest Fund.
Inezia Tours in Holland donates 5% of all their profits from worldwide birding and nature tours to Rio Pucuno Foundation's Forest Fund.
Wildsumaco Wildlife Sanctuary S.A. donates all bar and gift shop profits, as well as most of the profit from Wildsumaco Lodge, to Rio Pucuno Foundation's General Fund. The quilts displayed on the walls of the lodge are gifted to donors of specific amounts to RPF.
If you can help us buy and preserve forest in Sumaco, or with any of our projects, please contact us. US citizens wishing to make tax-exempt donations, please contact Rainforest Trust (www.RainforestTrust.org) and specify that you want your donation to go to Rio Pucuno Foundation, Ecuador.
Ours is a grass-roots conservation effort; we are proud of what we, with the help of like-minded individuals, have already accomplished and look forward to a bright future in the Sumaco area.
To contact us, please write to email@example.com