(Note: Please excuse us for any grammar or spelling errors since some writings may be provided by our local coordinators in Ecuador and English is not their native language.)
Wildlife Work in the Amazon Forest
ANIMAL CENTER SACHA YACU
Puyo is a small town in Amazon rain forest with a population of about 35,000 people. At an altitude of about 924 meters above sea level, about 3,000 feet, it is one of Ecuador’s biggest towns in the Amazon region and a commercial center for locals as it is the capital of the Pastaza province. Even though tourism is not too big in Puyo it has increased a bit lately due to its beautiful location, surrounded by mountains, forest and rivers.
Located about 20 minutes away from the small town called El Triumfo and about 1 hour away from Puyo the center is located in the middle of the forest where the Indian family who runs the center has 70 hectares in total. The animal center does not use all of this for the animals as they are spread out over a few hectares of this but they have plenty of land where they can in cases release animals if possible they also have enough forest to collect food and insects that are needed to feed the animals.
The Alvarez family started the center in 2006 in cooperation with another center in the Andes as they needed a place for animals in the Amazon that belongs to this area but since a couple of years they moved the animals further into the forest and started to run everything on their own.
WHY DO THEY NEED HELP?
Volunteers are important as their payment for the lodging is the main income for the center and at the same time they contribute with physical labor as the center can’t afford to hire people to work. Though the government are the ones that brings animals here they do not contribute with anything like money to buy materials for cages or food so as all the centers that exist in Ecuador, they will have to find their own way to finance everything.
Volunteer´s role in the projects is to support and work with the local family to take care of the animals. Among things they might do are cleaning cages, give water and food to animals, repair and build cages, enrich cages, collect food in the surrounding area and clean and the paths and infrastructure in general.
Without volunteers they would have a hard time to keep running the center as they don’t let visitors to come here like many other centers do and therefore there is nothing that they can get from an entrance fee.
Tasks that volunteers might do:
• Help building and enrich cages when needed and materials are available.
• Maintain paths and infrastructure at the center.
• Clean inside and around cages.
• Prepare food and feed the animals.
• Look for food for the animals in the area.
Application with clear passport scan.
Possibility to work physical.
Possibility to live simple.
Interest in working with animals and people.
Open-mindedness to live in a different culture and in simple housing.
Minimum 3 to 4 weeks.
Monday to Friday, from about 06:00 to 17:00 and normally during Saturday morning. On Friday or Saturday the family try to take the volunteers to see something like a waterfall in the area so they have some fun together to.
WHAT TO BRING
Rubber boots and working gloves.
Working clothing that might get destroyed or stained.
Sunscreen and sunhat.
Thin sleeping bag.
OFFICIAL HOLIDAYS 2013
New Year’s Day, 01 of January
Carnival, 10-12 of February
Good Friday, 29 of March
Easter Saturday, 30 of March
Easter Sunday, 31 of March
Labor Day, 01 of May
Battle of Pichincha, 24 of May
Ecuador’s Independence Day or Quito Independence Day, 10 of August
Guayaquil Independence Day, 11 of October (moved from 09 of October)
All Souls Day or Day of the Dead, 02 of November
Cuenca Independence Day, 03 of November
Christmas Eve, 24 of December
Christmas Day, 25 of December
New Year’s Eve, 31 of December
Volunteers will live in a volunteer lodge that is located at the center. They will have 3 meals per day that they take turns to prepare, a shared dorm room and two shared showers and two shared toilets. Water is only heated by the sun and though it is never really freezing it can be a bit chilly sometimes and for electricity they have a generator that they turn on at night so everybody has some lights when cooking and a chance to recharge their cameras and cell phones.
The family that runs the center has a house about 700 meters down the road as well as up by the main road but normally one family member stays at night at the volunteer lodge.
TO GET THERE
Volunteers have to arrive to Quito where they first will have orientation. If they want Spanish classes they will of course stay for a while before heading to the location of their work.
When it’s time to leave Quito they will take a taxi to the bus terminal in the south called Quitumbe for about $10. Here they buy their ticket for about $6 and go with the bus to Puyo that takes about 5 hours. On arrival to Puyo they take a short taxi ride for about $1 to the location of the next bus that will take them on an about 1 hour ride where they jump of and there someone will be waiting for them to help them down to the center with their bag on the about 20 minute’s walk.
To take a taxi to Puyo they need to calculate about $25 one way but if the family goes there they might have the chance to get a lift. They can also take a bus on the main road to El Triumfo where they have a chance to use phones or buy some snacks but there is no Internet here yet.
Anybody that loves animals and nature. Biology students could also take part of this project but if they want to do some kind of study about animals or plants they will have to do this on their own when time permits.
This placement only require interest in animals and nature but a good basic Spanish level is best to have if they want to learn more and communicate with the family though there is normally one family member around that speak English. Also remember that the center is located in the forest without electricity most of the day, no regular phone and no Internet and as it is a bit to get back to “civilization” some people that can’t handle being alone with the locals and mostly Spanish might easily freak out,
Some volunteers that have been a bit older have had problem with physical work as it can be heavy sometimes and on top of that it can be very warm and humid in Puyo as this is the high part of the Amazon jungle.
Sometimes volunteers come with the idea that they will save the life of every animal they see, train them for being released to nature and actually release them, all done in 2 weeks and they always get disappointed. All the animals might not be repatriated due to their conditions as they sometimes are hurt or they are born in captivity and lack their natural behaviors and wouldn’t survive in the wild.