Saturday, 21 March 2015

0233 QuiraOga Rescued Animal Refuge

21st March
Lots of amazing animals being saved.

Like many other countries, Argentina has a problem with animals injured not only by vehicles on the increasingly busy roads, but also from predators (some human) who kill their parents, and other unfortunate situations. And the problems are increasing due to loss of habitat for the animals as us humans take over their land.  But occasionally we are fortunate enough to find wonderful places like QuiraOga here in Iguazu – A
private business that is focussed on rescuing injured animals, helping them recover, and then (hopefully) returning them to the wild.  We had found an amazing sanctuary in Honduras that was very similar, and was also extremely active in breeding and then setting free native macaws, so they could fly amongst the Inca ruins just as they did hundreds of years ago.  Here the macaws are not so lucky – Destruction of their native habitat means that the ones here can never be returned to the wild in Argentina – There are no trees suitable for them remaining in the wild !  But for other injured animals, the outlook is more rosy.

QuiraOga is just outside Iguazu, and when Ash and I set off there at 9 am this morning we thought we were just going to a wildlife park.  But when we got there and started talking to people at the gate, we realised that is was so much more than that – A private concern, totally dependent upon entrance fees, gift shop sales, and donations for their survival, and working closely with police and other road authorities to try to receive early reports of injured animals so that they had a reasonable chance of survival.  So the whole Refuge is much more focussed on eventual rehabilitation of the animals to the wild than a regular animal park would be, and interaction with humans is limited, for obvious reasons.

You have to go with a guide, so Ash and I waited for half an hour and I had the first decent coffee I have tasted since Columbia ! Then we climb into the back of a fairly rudimentary trailer, towed by a tractor, and head 15 minutes into the jungle.  After a very informative video in the visitor’s centre, we set off on a 1 hour walk around the enclosures.  As a side, there are many wonderful animal paintings around the park, and they are done by a well known local wildlife artist and I thought they were excellent. He donates them to the Refuge and their sales form a large part of their income. 

Walking through the rainforest one of the first things we see are enormous spiders, with their webs strung above our heads.  Our guide tells us that the webs are so strong that the thread is actually harvested and used in the hospital area for internal sutures on some of the animals !   Then the first enclosure is for one of my favourite birds – Toucans !  And they have so many different varieties in there – Regular orange billed ones, small green ones, white billed ones, black billed ones, and even a zebra striped billed one !  But all of them have one thing in common – the most magnificent, brightly coloured plumage.  I so enjoy toucans.

We saw ugly vultures, and red throated yacutingas; cappucine and howler monkeys; wild Argentinian cats and  a jaguar cub; Armadillos and caimans; and a black and white anteater that looked like he had a short sleeved sweater on, and had an injured foot so needed to be given medicine daily.  They have some hawks / falcons there, some of which are trained in falconry in order to keep their hunting skills at a peak, and there are owls and wild pigs and capybaras.

All too soon our walk came to an end, and we boarded our tractor trailer for the ride back to the entrance.  Our guide was excellent, and we left their feeling that at least the animals in this region have a fighting chance.  Whether awareness of all the problems has come too late for some (like the macaws) is yet to be decided, but at least awareness is growing.  Very impressed.

As we drove back into town, I took Ash with me to visit the corner of town where 3 countries meet – Argentina, Paraguay, and Brasil.  The Iguazu and Parana rivers actually separate the 3, but there is a column in each country, painted in that countries colours, with all three being visible from any one.  InterestIng, and like a similar situation in Switzerland (Basle ?  Berne ? I can’t remember) where 3 countries meet in town, must be one of very few places in the world where this occurs.

That done, a quick trip to the panaderia for some bread rolls for lunch, and it was back to the camp site.  And only just in time – Big black clouds rolled across the river from Paraguay towards our camp site, and we had a short blast of heavy wind and rain !   It then rained off and on all afternoon, while I slowly sorted out a few things before I set off tomorrow morning to Brasil.  I will cross just up the road at the other end of Iguasu town, and will then try to find a place where I can use my visa card to obtain some Brasilian money.  If I can’t, then I have a problem – But I will deal with that tomorrow. 

I then have a 1200 km drive across Brasil to the coast, half way between Sao Paulo and Rio de Janeiro, to stay with some friends from our journey in Ubatuba.  It is on the coast and I am looking forward to it as everyone says it is beautiful.  And it will be great to see Mauro, Giovanna, and Pedro and Leticia again – We last saw them up near Cartagena in Columbia.

But first I need to try and find someone who will give me some money !!  A manyana !

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