Into the wilds of eastern Guyana

At the end of September 2014, a team of intrepid researchers set out into the wilds of eastern Guyana on the northern coast of South America, to track down and document the region’s abundant wildlife, ranging from the small invertebrate (bullet ants) to larger mammals (puma). The forests of south-central Guyana are among the least studied and most biologically diverse forest types in the Guianas. Until now, biologists have never studied the Upper Berbice River region, located between the upper reaches of the Berbice Rier and the Corentyne River, along the border with Suriname.


Led by GWC’s Director of Global Biodiversity Exploration Dr. Leeanne Alonso, in collaboration with WWF-Guyana, the Berbice biodiversity survey team of 20 international and Guyanese researchers, five Guyanese students, and 13 support staff set up two camps during their three weeks in the remote rainforest. The researchers surveyed a wide range of animal groups, led by a specialist and assisted by a team of students and local field assistants. The teams included plants, ants, water beetles, crustaceans, dragonflies and damselflies, fishes, birds, reptiles and amphibians, small mammals and large mammals. The teams used camera traps, mist nets, and other techniques to bolster our understanding of Guyana’s unique biodiversity.

Sept 25-Paraponera ant_Andrew Snyder

GWC’s Director of Global Biodiversity Exploration Dr. Leeanne Alonso says this expedition was ant heaven, with ants everywhere. (Photo by Andrew Snyder)

Their survey results, combined with the results from two previous Guyana surveys, will help conservationists, land managers, and policymakers use scientific data to ensure the protection of Guyana’s diverse and wonderful species. Sometimes these expeditions even lead to a major discovery, like a species new to science, or new species records for the country. On these expeditions, the scientists don’t know how the species will show themselves or even which species they might encounter. But they embrace the adventure in the name of science.

This week GWC is capturing some of the fascinating—and sometimes nerve-wracking—moments from the team’s expedition, including run-ins with curious caiman, baths with venemous snakes, rare potoo sightings and unreal midnight treks through the forest.

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