An Unforgettable Experience in Darien
José de Jesús Vargas González— 22 August 2011 — in Harpy Eagle Conservation and Research Share
The field experience below was written by Peter Montgomery (age 17), how was a volunteer in our Harpy Eagle Conservation project in Darien for a couple of weeks. Peter is now known in the communities that he visited by the name Imama Kundra (Young Jaguar in Embera language). In a few weeks, Peter earned the appreciation of local people, who are now wondering and asking frequently, When Imama Kundra comes back?
An Unforgettable Experience
It was larger, more powerful, and more majestic then I ever could have imagined. When I first laid eyes on a Panamanian Harpy Eagle, I was shocked by its appearance. It was, without a doubt, the most beautiful bird that had ever graced my eyes. It sat one hundred feet directly above me and Calixto, one of the field technicians, snacking on a sloth in its behemoth nest. I saw my first Harpy Eagle outside of the village of Llano Bonito. This village is a grueling four-hour trek through hills, mud, and humidity from the nearest road. The village is home to about one hundred hospitable people. When we first arrived, we were immediately greeted with fresh fruit, hot coffee, and a relaxing hammock. Seeing the way that the locals took care of the workers of the Harpy Eagle project showed me that they care about the project’s ultimate goal, preserving the jungle.
One of the main goals of the Harpy Eagle project is dedicated to educating and informing the communities of the Darien about the calamities that face the jungle and how the wellbeing of the Harpy Eagle reflects the health of the jungle, as well for the local peoples that direct depend of the nature. As we demonstrated to the locals in the community of Arimae, a healthy Harpy Eagle population keeps the jungle healthy because is maintains the balance in the population of other species of animals (example monkeys, sloth, kinkajous, almost other), and therefore allow a healthy environment for all other living things therein coexist, including humans.
The crowd of twenty-five absorbed the knowledge enthusiastically. After the presentation, one of the three village chiefs in attendance led us into the jungle to show us what he thought might be a Harpy Eagle’s nest. Harpy Eagle nest in tall trees called Cuipos. The tree where the nest was in was not a Cuipo, it was much lower to the ground and had more leaf coverage than a Cuipo, and the name of this tree is Ceiba. It turned out to be the nest of a Black and White Hawk Eagle, but the passion that he displayed when leading us around the jungle was fun to watch. He is a true testament to how positive of an effect the Harpy Eagle has had on the Darien.
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