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Interview :15 - 23:41 Play :15 - More
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John Terborgh  

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Manu National Park; Ecological threats  

Rose-fronted Parakeet -- Pyrrhura roseifrons 23:41 - 23:46 Play 23:41 - More
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Time of Day: 1700  

Environmental Recording 41:10 - 52:59 Play 41:10 - More
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Evening lake ambi  

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Time of Day: 1755  

Environmental Recording 1:06:52 - 1:31:31 Play 1:06:52 - More
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Dawn chorus  

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Time of Day: 0500; Recorded 21 October, 1999  

Alouatta 1:35:47 - 1:39:13 Play 1:35:47 - More
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Time of Day: 0530; Recorded 21 October, 1999  

Environmental Recording 1:39:13 - 1:40:32 Play 1:39:13 - More
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Rainforest ambi  

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Time of Day: 0535; Recorded 21 October, 1999  

NPR/NGS Radio Expeditions
20 Oct 1999 at 17:00

    Geography
  • Peru
    Madre de Dios
    Locality
  • Manu National Park; Cocha Cashu Biological Station
    Latitude/Longitude
  • -11.88806   -71.40667
    Habitats
  • Rainforest
  • Lake
    Channels
  • Stereo
    Sampling Rate
  • 48kHz
    Bit Depth
  • 16-bit
    Recorders
  • SONY TCD-D7
    Microphones
  • Sennheiser MKH 50
  • Sennheiser MKH 30
    Accessories
    Equipment Note
  • Stereo=1; Decoded MS stereo; Sennheiser MKH50 Hypercardioid Mid Mic and MKH30 Bidirectional Side Mic through Sonosax Preamp into Sony TCD7

NPR/NGS RADIO EXPEDITIONS
PERU LOG
DAT #3
NPR/NGS
RADIO EXPEDITIONS
Show: Peru
Log of DAT #: 3
Date: 1999

ng = not good
ok = okay
g = good
vg = very good

ID#1
[Terborgh interview continued]
0:00:15 - 0:00:47
JN:We¿re talking to Dr. John Terborgh in the Jungle¿
But we want to make sure DR. Terborgh that it¿s okay to use this on the air, print, website, etc.
JT: I agree to all of the above¿

0:00:47 - 0:02:10
JN: Well, I want to talk about threats to the park and I just generally speaking, there are a number of threats you look for at any park, and one of them is invasive species, I gather there¿s only one that you¿ve seen here yet. Which one¿s that¿
JT: There¿re not a great many here and it¿s one of the few places on earth where that can be said. The very first one I noticed arrived in 1978, and that was africanized honeybees. Honeybees are from the old world, they don¿t belong here in the western hemisphere buy they have invaded very successfully, and we saw our first Africanized bees in 1978.
JN: I hope you noticed this in a painless way.
JT: Oh yes.
JN: They came around selling magazines or something. So that¿s not something that is impending around here. Manu is unique in that respect.
JT: Undisturbed natural communities tend to be extremely resistant to invaders and that¿s true in North America as well as down here. The last little bits of virgin forest that we have have extremely few non-native plants in them, but disturbed places are just full of them, so that¿s another mystery for the ecologists to solve, we don¿t understand completely why that¿s so.

0:02:10 - 0:03:27
JN: And there hasn¿t been much bush-meat hunting in Manu, there has been in other parts of the Amazon, and there has been around the world, why not here? Are you worried?
JT: I¿m not really worried right now because the bush-meat market in this part of the world is in Puerto Maldonado, it¿s a long way away from here, the pressure isn¿t great.

Much of the Amazon has been drained of its animal life though by commerical market hunting and that¿s true in essentially all Amazonian countries, including most of the rest of Peru. What has saved Manu and the reason why Manu is as wonderful as it is, is a very unexpected one, is the river is occupied by what would be regarded as dangerous wild indians, and the fear people had coming in here for any purpose at all is what preserved it in its intact state. And so fortunately the park was created before this myth wore off, and we have a very exceptional piece of untrampled nature.

0:03:27 - 0:04:45
JN: I think it might be that another reason why you have so much richness in terms of wildlife is that the indigenous populations were driven into the corners of the park or killed off or given diseases that did the same thing, beginning, I don¿t know when the rubber boom was, but that was part of the issue, right?
JT: Very major part of the issue. All over South America the indigenous populations are estimated to have dropped 90% from pre-european times, and that happened much more recently in the Manu because it¿s so isolated. But almost certainly the population loss was something like that, there are archeological remains strewn up and down the river, there¿s abundant sign in digging in the soil you can see charcoal layers that indicate that people burned the land in the past but none of that¿s going on now. The place was depopulated during the rubber boom by the atrocities of the rubber barons, and their slave-making and all the rest that went with it.

0:04:45 - 0:05:28
JN: Before the rubber barons what is the evidence tell you about how many people were here and how extensive was their impact on this area?
JT: I recently read an estimate that the Amazon may have contained as many as 15 million inhabitants when the first Europeans arrived but that number after dropping down to a tiny fraction, hasn¿t recovered yet in spite of all the modern intervention and the huge city of Manaos, Brazil, but it still isn¿t back up to that 15 million, now the estimate may be a bit exagerated who knows, there¿s no way of going back to the 15th century and finding out how many people there were.

0:05:28 - 0:07:18
JN: The implication might be that that was the natural state, and this is the unnatural place.
JT: It all depends on where you put your bench-mark because the Amazon didn¿t have any people at all until about 10,000 years ago and then they migrated in from Asia by way of North America, so humans in the western hemisphere at all are a recent invader.
JN: I want to go back to the indigenous situation here, what specifically, as this population grows, if it continues to grow by leaps and bounds, what does that do? What are the consequences of that? What are the consequences of a population like that growing and getting some of the amenitites they want? What would that do to Manu?
JT: It¿s going to create larger and larger areas of disturbance inside the park, that¿s inevitable because the entire economy of these people is hunting and agriculture and to make their agricultural crops they have to clear forest and plant crops, and that disturbs the natural panorama that we enjoy right now. So if you think maybe 20 years, 30 years ahead, the experience of someone coming up the river, as you did today would not be the same as your experience, it¿d be very different, there¿d be little communities and settlements all along and banana trees instead of the wild plants, it won¿t have the same flavor character.
JN: You wouldn¿t see that Puma, or that great hawk
JT: You probably wouldn¿t see the Puma.

0:07:18 - 0:08:13
JN: Thank you for enduring this, it¿s very important¿..
[ambi]
JT: Everybody goes baring plant specimens¿ the parrots are right over our heads. They like to sit up there and talk to each other. They¿re very social and seem to find endless amounts of gossip to pass back and forth.
JN: Well, given the way our trip has gone so far, I would not be surprised if I got a big wad of parrot crap on my head any minute now.
[laughter]
It would miss Leo, because he¿s Peruvian!

0:08:13 - 0:09:16
JN: Well, one good hunter - The differnence between one good hunter with a traditional bow and arrow or something, and one good hunter with a gun is enormous, right? Tell me.
JT: It¿s a huge quantum leap in technology and it increases the efficiency of the hunter 5 or 10 times, animals don¿t get away. A gun hunter may lose fewer animals to injury, still the amount that can be harvested is very high, and so what tends to happen when guns come into a Native American community is that they live high on the hog for 2 or 3 years eating far more meat than they would normally eat because that¿s the thing they like to eat most and they indulge themselves until the game¿s all gone, and then they hit the hard wall of reality and have to adjust to a new lifestyle, it¿s not very, it¿s not a lot of fun.

0:09:16 - 0:10:40
JN: What do we do about this problem?
JT: That¿s the 64 thousand dollar question, I¿ve suggested that the best thing for the park would be to establish a program that would provide incentives that would attract people out of the park voluntarily, and I think that¿s not a far-fetched idea. These tribal people are in transition, they¿re learning Spanish, they¿ve discovered that goods must be purchased with money and the way you get money is by holding a job, and so more and more especially the younger generation they are interested in finding jobs and going out to the city and buying clothes and pots and other things to bring back to their family, they¿re not going to be interested in continuing the traditional lifestyle that their fathers and grandfathers lived, they¿re going to be joining the rest of the world, I¿m very convinced of that. And their children another generation forward may not even learn how to speak their original language, they¿ll probably speak Spanish, they will play soccor and watch television just the way everybody else does.

0:10:40 - 0:11:51
JN: You said incentives. What does that word mean?
JT: Incentives of course means something that people want, and what they want is education for their children, they know that everybody else speaks Spanish and that the key to success in the money economy is at least being able to speak Spanish, it¿s aquiring some sophistication and skills and all that, that¿s required to be successful in the job market, and they¿re also very interested in having goods, for example one little trade that we make here at the research station, is dugout canoes for a little portable radio that¿s been the going price for several years, but that introduces radios to a community of people who¿s never before had anything like that, so it changes their life, we¿re part of the problem in that sense.
JN: It¿s what they call violating the prime directive on Star Trek
JT: Yeah, right¿

0:11:51 - 0:12:54
JN: You said in your book that you thought Requium for Nature, that this is an untouchable subject, politically, it¿s a very difficult, very awkward subject and I know that there are some people back in the states that are a little bit exercised by your book, the traditional - well, what is it, what do we mean when we say it¿s untouchable, why is that and how do we get around it?
JT: It¿s particularly delicate subject here in Peru because Peru somewhat parallel fashion to the United States, has been dealing with its own race problem for 2 or 3 decades. The country was dominated by the so called oligarchy of European descent, for many many generations and people of Indian descent had lower status, and it¿s only recently that there¿s been a struggle to try and change that.

0:12:54 - 0:14:59
[Sabrina walks through]
JT: So native rights are a hot topic here and a very inflammatory one that inspires a lot of pasions and so there are Non Governmental Organizations that are actively promoting what they see as native rights among the people who live within the park and one of the proposals they have put forward I think very strongly and seriously is that defined areas of land around the existing native settlements be designated as native areas and that they be given full rights to exploit natural resources within those areas, that is they can start cutting down the forest with chainsaws and selling lumber and all the other things that in the end results in the destruction of nature. Naturally from my point of view I find this a dreadful prospect, in the first place it would make the park look like a slice of swiss cheese, it would be a little bit of cheese and lots of holes, whereever there were indigenous villages, and of course you have to ask the question if the population is growing so rapidly that in 20 years it is doubled, then in 20 years you¿ll have to double the holes in the swiss cheese at the cost of the cheese itself, and you don¿t have to think very far ahead and there isn¿t any park left at all so that really, that whole senerio really scares me a lot.

0:14:59 - 0:16:58
JN: I don¿t know what the middle ground is, there are groups that talk about setting up what they call sustainable development programs, I¿ve never been able to figure out, and I¿m not being snyde, exactly what that is, but can you help me understand that - I¿m sure there are groups that say we¿ll be in the middle here, we¿ll do it this way, what¿s the way they¿re talking about, and I gather you don¿t think that would work either.
JT: I¿m a skeptic about that. Sustainable development is an undefined word that all sides use in ways that suits their own interests, but one form of sustainable development just to make a concrete case is harvesting what are called the non-timber forest products. A lot of conservation organizations have been promoting this as a way of using forests non-destructively. Well, one of the major non-timber forest products here in this part of the Amazon is Brazil nuts. There are parts of the forest that contain Brazil nut trees, where the nuts fall to the ground can be collected by a person and dragged back to his home and then processed and sold. But what I¿ve seen of Brazil nut collecters, and I have met a number of them, is that they live a completely marginal lifestyle, they live a lifestyle on the barest edge of poverty and none of us at all would want to emulate the way they live, and I think it would be insulting to suggest that this is the future, people aspire to a better future than that, and to offer them this as the only alternative is something I could not find morally acceptable.

0:16:58 - 0:18:39
Leo and JN get a bug. Fooling around. Leo tells anecdote about talking to Peruvians.

0:18:39 - 0:19:00
JN: I am really fascinated by all of this stuff, and I really tried hard to prepare to speak to you out of all the other people on this trip, you know, and I¿ve got so much stuff in my head, it¿s like popping a boil or something.to get the right questions out, so pardon me for that, but here¿s one -

0:19:00 - 0:21:25
JN: I read a little bit in the book that you edited with Sue Lay, about megareserves. How is Manu set up and is Manu big enough? If you could just reconfigure this whole thing tomorrow, what would you do.
JT: Manu is certainly a megareserve the park and its attached buffer zone includes 2 million hectares, that¿s about the size of the state of Connecticut, something on that order, any rate. So it¿s a big piece of real estate. Nevertheless some of the glamorous species, even in so much land as that really don¿t maintain large populations, there¿re not very many of them. The flagship species of the Manu National Park is certainly the giant otter and these animals have now been studied very very thoroughly and we know that the entire two million hectare park has only about 60 giant otters -
JN: Sixty!
JT: Sixty, and 60 individual animals is not enough for a long term security, and so the Manu as big as it is is still not big enough as a secure conservation base for the giant otter. It will have 500 jaguars and that might be barely enough, but certainly it won¿t do for the giant otter.
JN: So it¿s on the edge, even at this size.
JT: It¿s on the edge in the sense that we don¿t know what the future will bring, it was even more on the edge 20 years ago when the fur trade was in full spring, it almost extinguished the giant otter over the whole world, and Manu because it is so isolated and protected held one of the last populations. The Peruvian government prohibited the sale of the skins and hides on the international market in the 1970s and since then, surprisingly quite a few things have come back. Jaguars have re-colonized a lot of places where they¿d been hunted out, and otters are spreading out of the park down stream and re-colonizing other areas, but as the population grows outside the park, we can¿t say what the future will bring.

0:21:25 - 0:21:47
Chatting, ambi

0:21:47 - 0:23:15
JT:That is true, there¿re about 10 groups of otters in this park and that¿s it.
JN: That¿s a change up or down since when you got here.
JT: I think it¿s a saturated number, it¿s not going to get any bigger than that, that¿s about as big as it can be.
JN: Is that what you call a minimum viable population.
JT: A minimum viable population should be a lot larger than 60, it should be more on the order of 500, so we¿re a long ways from home with the otters.
JN:So, I mean with 60 otters - is minimum viable population something that people still use? I mean -
JT: yes, [laughter] but it¿s a very roughly character, concept¿. It¿s supposed to be the number of animals, that when interbreeding and over generations do not lose genetic diversity. It¿s a concept built around genetic diversity. Populations that are smaller than this hypothetical minimum size, do learn genetic diversity, and that¿s a fact, that¿s not just a speculation..
JN: The probability that cousins will pair off is just too high.
JT: And then birth defects occurr, and miscarried pregnancies and whole host of other things develop when you see too much inbreeding.
JN: Have we seen any of that?
JT: I don¿t think we¿ve seen it here with these otters, at least if we have I haven¿t noticed it.

0:23:15 - 0:24:00
JN: What¿s your favorite time of day here?
JT: I guess I like the early morning, when things are just waking up, I like to be half awake while I lie in bed and count the birds check in as they do one after another after another, there are three hundred species of birds right here where we sit, and I can listen to them all and recognize them as old friends, so that¿s a nice experience for me. (great ambi of birds under this!). That¿s a little parrot called Pirura picta. Now I¿m very bad with these because I only know latin names, if people want to know English names, I just don¿t know what they are.

0:24:00 - 0:25:50
JN: Tell me what some of the, I don¿t have much else, want to ask you some other things, but lets do this: Let¿s just sit here for a minute, just identify things for me - everything, you tell me every sound here.
JT: The carroling song you hear is a robin. It¿s a South American forest robin, but really it¿s not very different from the one we have at home. I can hear some crickets, I hear some frogs, I hear a lot of parakeets off in the distance,
JN: Which was the frog?
JT: d,d,d,d,d,d -
JN: That? That¿s a frog?
JT: Yeah.
JN: With a flute?
JT: They make lots of different noises!
JN: Humans! I hear Humans!
JT: Humans in the research lab. There¿s a mot mot - a long tailed bird with a big bill that nests in the ground and eats insects. Boo doop, you hear that? It¿s a very fancy bird, green and blue, long long tail, and it prunes so that it has a pedulum at the end, classy bird.
(ambi)

0:25:50 -
Chatting,

AMBI HERE THAT NEEDS TO BE LOGGED

54:07 JN ¿ STAND-UP ¿ we are sitting in a 30 foot dug out canoe which is very wobbly. It was carved out of a single log and we are on what is called an Ox Bowl lake near the Cocha Cashu research station¿.(description of lake)¿¿55:00 description of lake¿¿55:14 it is the end of the day and a lot of the - 55:14-55:15 GREAT SOUND! A bird¿¿55:36 it is the end of the day and a lot of research students from the CC research station have been diving off a small pier at the end of the station or sailing around in boats and we are out here looking for the flag ship species which is the river otter. And unfortunately we are not likely to find it. Well, this is an ox bowl lake that had - this particular Ox Bowl lake has had as many as 20 river otters in it and in the past there have been possibly more ¿ much more ¿ in the Manu Park, but now they are down to about 60 which is ¿ what any biologist will tell you is less then the number you need to make sure that the otters will pair off w/their cousins and have a lot of birth defects and basically die out bc of genetic problems. 56:25. It is getting dark, but we are going to look just a little bit more.

56:31-56:56 G ambi bed ¿ on the river as it is getting dark ¿

56:57 JN ¿ the trees surrounding this lake are many of them easily more than 100 feet tall. It is absolutely a fantastic scene ¿ I mean the Loc Nes monster could come up in the middle of this lake and I would not be surprised. Most of the students are jumping off the pier wearing socks on their hands and feet to protect them from the pirhanna which is why I am not going swimming tonight. 57:29

57:30 G ambi

57:52 JN ¿ I think I am adjusting to being on the Amazon. I am going back and forth btwn feeling like this is an absolutely timeless other worldly place and remembering key scenes from CREATURES FROM THE BLACK LAGOON ¿ that was a scarey movie ¿ and this is a wobbly boat! Every now and then a fish jumps out of the water ¿ the moon looks like a headlight ¿ it is so bright. 58:45

58:46 ambi ¿ nice evening ambi on the river

59:04 JN ¿ it is really easy to understand why a lot of biologists think that this place is one of the epicenters of biodiversity in the whole world

59:17 ¿ 59:36 G ambi ¿ evening in the jungle

59:37 JN ¿ the water is absolutely clear. It is like glass. And it is absolutely green so we can¿t see into it at all. 59:49

59:50 ¿ 59:58 ambi

59:58 JN ¿ I saw a puma today ¿ I did ¿ they call it the red lion¿..(talking about seeing the puma ¿ JT only seen one ¿ so JN is even w./him) 1:00:48

1:01:08 ¿ 1:04:10 AMBI dinner time ¿ preparing food ¿ talk ¿ NG

1:06:44 ¿ 1:31:40 VG - a bit before 5:00am ¿ MKH 50 in mid ¿ mic check - ambi early dawn chorus @ 1:10:20 VG diff bird comes in @1:23:27 VG diff sounds ¿ howlers? Very faint - @ 1:26:08 VG birds fly by

STAND-UP
1:32:49 JN (stand-up) ¿ good morning. We are in a 30 foot cedar dug out canoe carved out of a single log and we are floating on a U shaped lake that is about 9 hours by boat upstream from the entrance to the park. it is dawn and as you can hear everything in the forest seems to be waking up all at once. It is called the dawn chorus (nice pause here). The lake is perfectly calm, there is a mist rising off the top of it. It is surrounded by trees that are easily 100 feet tall, and there is a curtain of vines falling off these trees around the edges of this lake. It is called an ox bowl lake ¿ as I said it is U shaped. And basically, the river long ago broke through the top of the U and closed off this lake (good ambi pause). 1:34:15 we have come to a place called the Cocha Cashu research center which has been operated for 30 years by an American scientist named John Terbourg. 1:34:25 (good ambi pause). 1:34:36 and over the years 100s of scientists have come here to undertake studies of various aspects of the tropical rainforest in hopes that they can answer some very basic questions such as: why is there so much diversity in tropical rainforests? ¿ I mean there are a lot of theories why that is true, but nobody really knows. 1:35:05 (pause for ambi) 1:35:13 Ox bowl lakes like this are often ¿ one of things we are looking for in lakes like this is the flagship species of Manu Park. It is called the giant river otter and is endangered and rare, even in a park this big. I am told there are only 60 inside manu ¿ here come the howler monkeys 1:35:47

1:35:48 ambi ¿ HOWLERS faintly heard in bg ¿ very eerie ¿ lots of birds in bg too (almost sounds like a jet plane in the bg)

1:36:12 ¿ Howlers get stronger

1:37:20¿1:38:05 VG howlers and birds ¿ great JUNGLE sound

1:38:06 ¿ VG jungle sound ¿ a splash in the water ¿ howler in bg ¿

1:39:00 ¿ 1:39:17 louder howlers

1:39:18 ¿ 1:40:32 VG jungle ambi ¿ w/out howlers ¿ lots of birds

1:41:07 JN ¿ (stand-up) the water in this lake is impossible to see through. It is a very dark green. It has little flecks of foam on top of it. It has a mist rising out of it. And the plopping sounds that you hear ever now and then are the fish coming to the surface ¿ although it could be an anaconda ¿ it could be a lot of things. This particular research center is here bc there are 100s of species of birds w/in walking distance. Also, many dozens of mammals. More frogs than you can probably count, and we are hearing from most of them right now. 1:41:58 this is the time of the day when animals get up and say I AM UP! Or HOW DID YOU SLEEP?¿¿GET AWAY FROM MY TREE ¿ this is my fruit¿..1:42:17 it is about a 9 hour boat trip from Cocha Cashu to the entrance of the park. Along the way ¿ yesterday ¿ we passed an amazing variety of animals. We saw a giant ¿ I think it is called a great black hawk. We saw vultures ¿ a variety of vultures. Huge. We saw a puma, down by the edge of river, having a drink of water. They call it a red tiger around here. It is easy to understand why this place is called on of the epicenters of biodiversity around the world. 1:43:09 you can also hear people getting up. Those are the researchers at the C.C. research station. 1:43:29

1:43:43 JN - says his hellos to kiddies and wife¿¿

1:44;11 ambi by river ¿ some boat clanks ¿

1:44:37 JN ¿ OK? Want me to pull it up? A little more? (dragging boat) Walter you ok?

Walter ¿ I am ok!

JN ¿ this is paradise!

1:45:07-1:45:54 ambi ¿ good birds but some talking - walking in bg -

ML: Subject changed from Pyrrhura picta to P. roseifrons to reflect current taxonomy. -Jay McGowan 29Apr2015.

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