Category Archives: Jaguar Corridor Expedition

Day 05 – September 06, 2007

Before re-starting on our journey, we returned to Porto Rico (nothing to do with the Menudos’ home island…wow, that was a terrible joke!) to find an Internet café or somewhere, anywhere, with an Internet connection where we could update our Blog, check email and deal with other issues; deadline extensions for university work, for example. We climbed from the boat onto the cement ramp, began asking around and were told about the Extreme Internet Café. We entered a house’s long corridor and descended to the basement. Here we found video rental and Internet sections, all lit with black lights, which, along with the fact that it was in the basement, made the place look like a pub. We were very well received by Henrique, a 15-year old kid who brought us a blue sofa and connected us to the web. They say that even experts never understand computers as well as their kids. The fact is that, for all our attempts, we could not connect the laptops. Henrique did so in a few seconds, after we’d asked. Are we becoming old?

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We were very well received by Henrique, a 15-year old kid who brought us a blue sofa and connected us to the web...

We logged-in to the Blog (the expedition diaries was originally published in Portuguese on www.oeco.com.br) and thanked Felipe Lobo, of O Eco, for his help in posting our adventure. We uploaded our daily material, dealt with emails and eventually boarded our little sailboat, heading downriver.

Twenty kilometers from Porto Rico, in the region known as Porto Floresta, we began to understand the real dimensions of the Upper Paraná Corridor: one or two fishers and few signs of habitation, which drastically reduces the number of plastic bottles and other signs of “civilization”. Instead: many islands, floodplains and much forest.

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… many islands, floodplains and much forest …

This mosaic, this landscape, this region, we thought, was incredibly suited to jaguars. It possessed elevated banks, sheltered islands, habitable floodplains and, more importantly, plenty of food. Our impressions are corroborated in data from jaguars monitored by radio collars in Morro do Diabo State Park (São Paulo State) and Várzeas do Ivinhema State Park (Mato Grosso do Sul State). Capybaras and marsh deer, preferred jaguar prey, were at home there.

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Capybaras and marsh deer, preferred jaguar prey, were at home there.

Whoever has or will visit different types of forested areas will know that in places where hunting (by humans) is sporadic, animals tend to be less afraid. Navigating using wind gives us an added advantage: unlike motorboats, we do not make noise. This permitted us to come almost within reach of capybaras along the banks. It also led to hysterics when we frightened fishers after “unwittingly” sneaking-up on them from behind. Those with a fondness for fishing were also impressed to see a silent vehicle that did not scare the potential catch.

Navigating southward, were crossed the first rapids on the Ivinhema River, in Mato Grosso do Sul State. The Corridor each time gained more life; birds and the sightings of capybaras, otters and caimans increased considerably. The trails used by these animals were often visible to us. This reminded us of the connectivity we were trying to evaluate, these truly could be called the “paths of the jaguar”. At noon near Porto Pinheirinho, where we saw the pine tree (today quite large) that gives the place its name, we lit the barbecue and threw some onions and chicken and the grill. This was our lunch. The idea seemed well-intended and the food was quite welcome. The tailwind, however, blew billows of smoke towards us and into the cabin, reminiscent of some massive fumigation. Mishaps aside, we navigated until 19:30hs.

Whilst heading downstream, we intermittently used something akin to a carnival drum, but not quite. It was for a slightly different purpose: imitating the growl of a jaguar. This “instrument” was given to me some years ago, a present from an old hunter in the region of the Peixe River in western São Paulo State who had hunted jaguars in the upper Xingu River. We were surprised with the volume and echo created by the jaguar-call along the river (not so impressive in the video). We optimistically hoped for a reply!

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…this “instrument” was given to me some years ago, a present from an old hunter…

It took us awhile to find an appropriate anchor site because of branches on the banks that constantly threatened the mast. After eventually having done this, we prepared for a quick meal and were ecstatic to pick-up a mobile signal in one of the most unlikely sites. We spoke with some friends and family, including Kauê Cachuba Abreu who studies jaguars in the floodplains of the Upper Paraná. Kauê was on a bus coming from Curitiba to Porto Figueira to join the expedition. After a quick dip in the River that reinvigorated our energies, we called jaguars until 23:30hs. We thought about the star-filled sky that would be hard to describe to someone living in a city.

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We went to bed expecting to awake with a jaguar growling in the background, coming to see what these beasts were that had invaded its territory. Would it come?

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Cheers,

pH

Day 4 – September 5, 2007

After yesterday’s fright in the lock, we awoke at 6:30 AM and noticed a man meandering curiously toward us to look at the boat. Mr. Eliseu owns the house facing that night’s mooring. We were preoccupied with the CESP (São Paulo State Electric Company) high tension lines that cross the River right below Porto Primavera.

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If there was any likelihood these were too low for our mast to clear, we would have to raise it only after we crossed the danger. Mr. Eliseu put us at ease, however:
– Gosh! You’ll cross easily!
We took his word for it and began to raise the mast, which we did in a record 45 minutes. In an improvised protocol, we used the pulleys from the primary sail for the job, as we had done the day before to lower it. This was much more effective than the strength of many arms. Imagining the primary sail (our sailboat has two: the master and the genoa) as a “rectangular” triangle, the part attached to the mast would be the hypotenuse and the adjacent side, the bottom portion: the latter, attached to the boom. The day before, the latter had lost four of its rivets. Mr. Eliseu, who was looking-on very interested, immediately offered us his toolbox. Using a drill connected to the on-board generator, we cleared the holes and installed new rivets.

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… we cleared the holes and installed new rivets.

In the lock, the mast, which had been firmly tied to the boat, had lightly scraped one of the walls. This loosened the windsock (the indicator of wind direction). As the mast was now already mounted, we decided on another “improvisation”; we brought a harness for just such occasions. Our rationale: if the pulley supports the full weight of the sail and the force of the wind, it should easily cope with a slim human like me.

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… it should easily cope with a slim human like me.

After a quick restocking trip to the supermarket, we bid farewell to Mr. Eliseu and the small crowd that had amassed to watch our handiwork on the boat…or, a là Douglas Adams: So long and thanks for all the tools! At 10:00 in the morning we were sailing with favorable winds and plenty of tereré .
We navigated with an east wind at the stern using only the master sail, maintaining an average of 5,5 mi/h; the current on the Paraná obviously giving us an extra push. This was the main goal of the expedition: we were officially in the Jaguar Corridor. This was the northern-most portion of the Corridor, near Morro do Diabo State Park and the Caiuá Ecological Station. The difference in landscape was noticeable; in truth, stunningly so. Everything we sailed through to get here now seemed so distant, as though it had happened ages ago. During the course of that day, we were surrounded by well-structured gallery forests, mosaics of islands and varzeas.

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There exist theories that describe the relation between island size and proximity with number or richness of extant species. These, collectively known as Island Biography, posit that the larger the island, the higher the species richness. It seems obvious? It may well be, but many of the more important discoveries have come from the more banal deductions. The Theory of Evolution itself, which arguably provoked the most tangible revolution in the way humans see themselves, the universe and everything in between, described in Charles Robert Darwin’s The Origin of Species is so amazingly straightforward (with due respect) that Thomas Henry Huxley, upon reading the book, declared: How incredibly simple! I should have thought of this!
Interesting stuff, but let’s return to Island Biogeography. Again, it may seem simple, but it is worth emphasizing that we are presenting an extremely basic summary of the Theory for fear that if we delve too much into the technical and scientific details we would lose to tedium those that are following our expedition but are not interested in its strictly academic aspects. Thus, all jokes aside, we will try to maintain the text as relaxing and informative as possible without becoming too prosaic. Technical aspects will be sent to those interested. We hope that you understand and enjoy!
Lets return to the Theory. It has been adopted in various studies of forest fragmentation, where forest fragments become the “islands”. Sadly, this is fully applicable to the Brazilian Atlantic Forest, which today is reduced to 7% of its original size due to 500 years of the Brazilian extractive philosophy – well described by Warren Dean in his With Broadax and Firebrand: The Destruction of the Brazilian Atlantic Forest: “To those who come after: deal”.
The landscape surrounding the fragments, which in the original Theory was sea and ocean, is designated as the matrix by landscape ecologist. The matrix offers resistance, i.e. some species can cross long distances from one fragment to the other, whilst others have a reduced capacity to do so. A quick example: a jaguar can cross several kilometers of pasture and plantation to get from one fragment to another. However, a small primate cannot and depending on the distance, not even a large monkey such as the woolly spider monkey can complete this trajectory. Different species thus have different capacities to disperse. Why is this important? Depending on the isolation of a fragment or “island”, populations of a resident species begin to lose genetic diversity. Since immigration is rare, individuals from one group do not contribute new genes to other populations, the genetic variability of isolated groups diminishes. This causes higher mortality and lower resistance to disease, among other consequences.
This is the point of the Jaguar Corridor: inter-connecting the biodiversity of the Upper Paraná. Obvious? This time, perhaps simplicity is not exactly in order. We are not dealing exclusively with corridors. Many parks are islands that, in the long run, lose species because they cannot sustain large or sufficient enough populations to maintain genetic variability. As researchers, many times we hear (in truth, almost all of the time) that there are many animals, much forest, that it will never end… The fact that one sees an animal today does not mean that within a few generations it will still exist, even if the forest is still there. Even cattle ranchers have to work hard to maintain good genes in their herds using artificial insemination.
Another obvious example: Whoever has siblings raise their hands. Why – if you are not identical twins – are you not identical to your brothers and/or sisters? We receive 50% of our genes from our mothers and 50% from our fathers, but this does not mean that our siblings will receive the same 50%: they can receive different genes, the process is random. Now suppose that your father was the only human in the world who had the immunity gene for a disease and that this gene was not passed-on to you or to any of your siblings…the gene disappears when your father dies, which, of course, isn’t our wish. In fact, we wish all fathers live long lives and become grandparents.
All of this thinking can seem like folly to some, but in the end it is easy to understand and sometimes we are the ones with aversions to certain ideas. In the same way that mathematics gives elementary school children nightmares. In truth, such rationalizing raises the deepest and most relevant debates in the design of reserves, the conservation of threatened species and the relation between man and nature itself. For those who still insist on the “why’s” of preserving “little animals and plants” when there are so many people dying of hunger, there remains a question along the same lines: what if the little animal or plant that is on the verge of extinction possessed the cure for cancer? The motives for conservation go well beyond the simple interest of the future of humanity, but this is only an additional simple example. Moreover, citing “the dying children in the streets” as an argument highlights a fallacy: will exterminating species using destructive development models stop hunger? Are we destroying the Cerrado  and planting soybeans in order to end hunger, or to export to China so they can make pig feed? This debate is comical coming from persons who find it normal that football players are sold to foreign teams for sums that add to billions of dollars…
This brings us to where we are, feeding on and deriving inspiration from the adventures of natural historians who traveled Brazil at the start of the nineteenth century, but using the theories and the technology of our own generation: rediscovering the Upper Paraná and its Corridor.
Leaving behind themes too polemic and complex to be dealt with here, let’s return to the voyage itself. Along the course we traveled through Porto São José without stopping, although we were feted by children on the banks screaming “Stop here, Stop here…”. We were probably the first sailboat they had seen on this portion of the Paraná, a fact that was confirmed by the older fishermen. At three in the afternoon, we anchored in Porto Rico, where we also caught the interest of some local residents. We immediately savored a serving of fried Tilápia in the Beira Rio Restaurant; after all, no one is made of stone! We then sighted the Porto Rico Island with a sandy beach near the restaurant where we would overnight. At five in the afternoon, we sailed to it with an east wind, and purposely grounded the Pasárgada onto the beach. Afterward, we hopped off and began to explore the location.

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That night, we improvised a grill and dined on grilled sausage…coated with sand (argh) and with a side of rice. Afterward, we turned-on the generator to power the laptops and prepared our diaries. We slept looking through Pasárgada’s mosquito net, with falling stars lighting up the sky.

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Cheers

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Day 3 – September 4, 2007

The day was still struggling to show its first signs and we were already preparing for breakfast, when two people, almost unnoticeably, climbed down the banks toward the river margin: Carlos Plateiro and one of the assistants who work on the farm he owns in Anaurilândia. Breakfast postponed, we disembarked to talk with our friend.

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The day was still struggling to show its first signs…

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…we disembarked to talk with our friend.

It is worth making a parenthesis here to tell a short personal story:
I read about Carlos when I still was in high school, and the story of that hunter who came to help researchers to catch jaguars thrilled me. Many years after the boring daily classes at that high school in Minas Gerais, in July 2004, I found myself running beside him and his dogs to capture a female jaguar and change its radio collar. Carlos’ skills to follow tracks and his knowledge of these felines are matchless.

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Carlos’ skills to follow tracks are matchless.

Many people think it is incongruent to have so much admiration for old hunters such as Carlos and Sasha Siemel (a Ukrainian who became well-known for killing jaguars in Pantanal with a kind of spear called zagaia). However, these men come from a different historical moment, far different from modern safaris.

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Tigrero! Sasha Siemel’s 1953 book.

Carlos did not stay long, and we soon set off. The morning was stressful. We had to cross a true minefield in the paliteiros.

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… a true minefield in the paliteiros.

It can sound repetitive, but it is extremely difficult to understand why those trees were left untouched when the water level was raised. There must be a good reason! The excess of organic remains available in the environment favors the proliferation of bacteria that use up water oxygen, leaving no oxygen for the rest of the system, in a phenomenon known as eutrophication. Although it was not observed in this lake, there is still a question about the advantages of leaving all those trees to die without using their wood, impairing navigation, and also running the risk of decreasing the number of fish due to lack of oxygen in the environment… There must be a reason.
After crossing the paliteiro, we reached the river channel and carried on. We picked up good speed with a tailwind (that coming from directly behind the boat). As we approached the dam, the wind was stronger and the waves higher and higher. We started to radio for guidelines to proceed for the locking operation. In a nutshell, a lock is a system of gates for connecting bodies of water at different water levels; most of us are more or less aware of this process: it is the same used in the Panama Canal, since the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans are not at the same level, which makes this system necessary for vessels to cross from one side to the other. In our case, we were preparing to go from the highest level (dam) to the original riverbed, 20 meters lower.

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The lock

After several attempts, we established a radio connection and were given instructions to tie the boat to one of the six dolphins (a dolphin is a concrete pile to which vessels may be moored) that were near the entrance to the lock.

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The dolphins

Our contact was calmly checking if it would be possible to authorize us to pass, despite the fact that we had already been authorized one month before. At that moment, we were informed that the maximum height that lock can accommodate is 10 meters, which left us in a far from happy situation with our 11.25 meters (9.75 of mast and 1.50 of draft). With waves almost 3 meters high moving our boat up and down with a force of some few, but not friendly, tons, we were trying – at the same time – to tie the boat, to speak on the radio, and to steer the helm, while the already introduced waves were happily pushing us toward the concrete wall. We could not tie the boat to the dolphin we thought was safer, and the boat came to bump into the wall, while we were desperately trying to get it out of there. While we waited for instructions from our calm friend, we tried hard to avoid the waves and their not insignificant tons of pressure making our sailboat and ourselves into small floating pieces that, these indeed, would serenely go down the river. We succeeded – if we can say that – in our efforts to tie the boat to another dolphin ahead, one that was not so close to that almost magnetic concrete wall.

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The killer one.

Higher and higher waves were moving the boat up and down when one of them hit us right on the side and broke the two ropes we had tied as if they were threads. Our reflexes sharpened by the not-at-all-funny risk of losing the boat and our lives, we sailed through the waves looking for a safe place to go over the best way to deal with the situation. In our maps, we found an inlet and we headed there helped by GPS, while everything was shaking and threatening to go out of place, due to the force of the wind and the up-and-down waves.
The authorization for the locking operation was denied owing to our boat height. What should we do? Give up? Only if the boat sinks! Although the manual of the O’day 23 (the model of our sailboat) tells that at least three people are needed to disassemble and assemble the mast, we could lower it and tie it in one hour, and at 5 PM we got the authorization for the locking operation.

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Give up?

The operators were having problems to open the gate. So, already bitten by the experience with the dolphins, even with lower waves, we decided to sail back slowly to the inlet that had sheltered us before, in case they could not open the gate before nightfall.

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Fortunately, everything came out well, and we finally entered the canal for the locking operation.

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Everything was fine. We reached the original bed of the Paraná River and – yes – the Jaguar Corridor! We moored about 2 km downstream from the lock, in Porto Primavera.

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Day 2 – September 3, 2007

Most important accounts and findings: Definitely a long day! We woke up really early and, after a hearty breakfast, reassumed our journey, but could count very little on the wind. About one third of our route was taken using the 15 hp outboard engine that we have for situations like this and for riskier maneuvers. We continued our route along the original riverbed, that is, the natural bed before dam.

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…could count very little on the wind.

Using the GPS (Global Positioning System) and the navigation notebooks from the Infrastructure and Waterways Division of the Ministry of Transports website, we tried to plan a safe route and stick to it, away from hull hazards caused by the aquatic cemetery of submerged tree trunks of what has once been part of the Atlantic Forest of the States of São Paulo and Mato Grosso do Sul. Our average speed along the day was of about 3.5 knots, with no stopovers along the 38 miles between the mouth of the Santo Anastácio River, in the municipality of Presidente Epitácio, where we had stayed overnight, until the mouth of the Quiteróiz, in Anaurilândia, in the State of Mato Grosso do Sul. The landscape along this stretch was quite repetitive and monotonous. Paliteiros , inundated forests, and collapsing banks on the São Paulo side.

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Using the GPS (Global Positioning System) and the navigation notebooks.

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Paliteiros , inundated forests, and collapsing banks on the São Paulo side.

The first impression is that, little by little, the lake formed by the dam of the Paraná River is swallowing the State of São Paulo margins. Considering the size of the sheet of water and the continuous waves that hit the margins, the Permanent Conservation Areas (APP`s), which should be reforested to restore gallery forests to protect river margins, are, in fact, mostly open pastures affected by a slow process of fluvial erosion. Many farmers report that, in the last four or five years, they have lost from 50 to 80 meters of banks. It means that, in some cases, areas initially demarcated as APPs do not exist anymore; they have been completely swallowed by the river and are contributing to silting, reducing the useful life of the reservoir and its hydroelectric power plant.
It is worth remembering that the stretch upstream from Sérgio Motta Hydroelectric Power Plant (Porto Primavera), where we still are, do not provide connections with the Biodiversity Corridor of the Paraná River. Making it simple, this stretch connects nowhere to nowhere, since there are no Conservation Units or significant forest areas along the course. Tomorrow (September 4), we are going to perform a locking operation at Sérgio Motta Power Plant, navigating downstream, and entering the original and undammed bed of the Paraná River.
After the locking operation, we will have started the journey through the northern section of the Corridor, in areas close to the Ecological Station of Caiuá (State of Paraná), at the confluence with the Paranapanema River, near Morro do Diabo State Park (State of São Paulo). Floodplains inhabited by jaguars, marsh deers and other species from the semi-deciduous forests of the Upper Paraná and the floodplains associated to them await the passage of Pasárgada.
The afternoon was extremely stressful, since our original plans did not include reaching the other margin in the State of Mato Grosso do Sul. We had to leave the mapped watercourse, getting closer to shallow waters than we would have wished, amid many dead tree trunks. But it will well worth it. Our objective in going to Anaurilândia was to meet a good friend and one of the greatest jaguar (ex) hunters in Brazil: Carlos Plateiro. Tomorrow morning, Carlos will meet us in the banks of the Paraná River, at the back of Sete Belo Farm, where we will spend the night. In the seventies and eighties, Carlos used to be hired by farmers in Mato Grosso do Sul to kill the jaguars that predated cattle in the region. He killed more than 200 felines in his career as a hunter. However, today he is on our side, helping IPÊ, as well as many other research institutions all over Brazil, in ecological hunts to capture jaguars and pumas to attach radio-collars to them and monitor these animals for scientific purposes.

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On conservation side. From guns to anesthetized darts. Carlos and sedated jaguars.

Many recollections and advice come to our minds in our daily routine on the boat. Once, Amyr Klink said in an interview that most people have bucolic views of expeditions and, according to him, this has even been a reason for problems with crew members who imagined they were simply setting off on a leisure trip to read, write, and pass their time. Sure, in their dreams! The truth is that there is no time for anything! He could not be more right, after all he is Amyr Klink!!!
We woke up before dawn and, after herculean effort, could sit down at the end of the day, around 9 PM, to write these lines you are reading. There are so many details, so much organization, attention, and fatigue that it is hard to think of anything else than going to sleep. But… who wants a different life? Definitely not us!!!
Other recollection comes from a passage in the book Karluk, which tells the story of a namesake sailboat that (almost) went off on an expedition to the Arctic in 1913. There, after freezing and shipwrecking, with their supplies in the last stages, the crew discussed about tea! Yes, tea! And they composed an ode to tea (most of the crew was English) and all it represented to them in those moments of affliction.

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The amazing Karluk‘s voyage

Here, in the Jaguar Corridor expedition, we will celebrate tereré !!! For those who do not know it, it is made from same herb used for chimarrão , prepared differently, with iced water, preferably very iced water!!! So this is our record in honor of this beverage that saves us from dehydration, in a short ritual that only those used to it know what we are talking about. Thanks to our friend Toy (Luis António Dassan), a pioneer in sailboating on the Paraná River, for having introduced us to sailing and for an almost endless stock of tereré!

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We anchored at 6 PM, on an eastern wind, at half sail, at about 2.2 knots, near Anaurilândia (State of Mato Grosso do Sul) at the mouth of the Quiteróiz River, in front of Sete Belo Farm, in the Mato Grosso do Sul margin.

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 Cheers!

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Day 1 – September 2, 2007

As planned, the Jaguar Corridor Expedition departed at 2:30 PM from Porto Príncipe Marina, in the town of Presidente Epitácio, São Paulo. Our departure was quite hectic, with friends from IPÊ, sailors and supporters from all over the region coming to watch closely the beginning of our journey along the Paraná River. Representatives from the local Justice and Navy departments, and friends from the Marina, interested in our expedition objective and results, came to wish us success and good winds. Some driven by curiosity, some fascinated by the adventure itself, the fact is that our departure was marked by strong feelings of companionship and strong emotions, at times we found it difficult to conceal our nervousness. And so we left, with more than one tear in our eyes, celebrated as if we were going to Manuel Bandeira’s Pasárgada.

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…we found it difficult to conceal our nervousness.

 Our journey was bound for south. In spite of not being of much help in the beginning, the wind rewarded us with a smooth sailing at the end of that afternoon, allowing us to navigate more than 10 miles in about 3 hours. Even after such a short trip, we could already confirm some issues, and these were the ones that called our attention the most:

1) Islands of forests, temporary Noah’s Arks: After the Paraná River was dammed, forming the Porto Primavera Lake, some tracts of land remained isolated in the middle of the reservoir, surrounded by water. Although beautiful on the lake landscape, these isolated forest fragments have served as temporary shelters for many species of the local fauna when the waters rose rapidly during the process of filling the reservoir. The Hydroelectric Power Plant staff was in charge of rescuing the fauna; however, many animals were not lucky enough to be saved. Unfortunately, even those sheltering on the emerging islands are with their days numbered, since they are far from being numerous enough to produce genetically healthy populations. Little by little, the Arks are losing their couples.

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2) The paliteiros,  submerged dead forests: After the filling of the lake, the remnant forests along the Paraná River were inundated. As they were not removed earlier, real cemeteries of dead trees (paliteiros) formed, spotting the sheet of water and posing boating hazard. Scenes are almost “gothic”.

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Paliteiros: literally, toothpick holders, since the dead trees look like toothpicks emerging from the water  surface.

3) High banks in the State of São Paulo: The State of São Paulo was much less affected by the filling of the lake, whose margins are formed by higher banks. As for the State of Mato Grosso do Sul, with floodplains and lower areas, that was the region most affected by the filling, with approximately 270 km2 of inundated areas, contrasting with only 27 km2 in the State of São Paulo.

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High banks in the State of São Paulo

We anchored at 6 PM in Santo Anastácio Stream, a tributary of the Paraná River, in the State of São Paulo margin, which have also suffered the consequences of the filling, showing several paliteiros and inundated floodplains. A local family welcomed us, offering a shower and food.

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Cheers,

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Fernando and Laury

The Jaguar Corridor Expedition Press Release

“On board sailboat Pasárgada, Laury Cullen and Fernando Lima, researchers of the Institute of Ecological Research – IPÊ, set off on an unheard-of expedition, sailing for more than 270 miles, with the objective of investigating the current conservation status of the Biodiversity Corridor of the Upper Paraná River.
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The sailboat Pasárgada

 The Biodiversity Corridor protects the Atlantic Forest in five Brazilian States and connects to forest remnants in Argentina and Paraguay. It covers areas of the Atlantic Forest biome, including the Paraná and Iguaçu river basins, the National Parks of Ilha Grande and Iguaçu, the State Parks of Morro do Diabo, Ivinhema and Turvo, the Ecological Stations of Black Lion Tamarin and Caiuá, and the Environmental Protection Area (Área de Proteção Ambiental – APA) of the islands and floodplains of the Paraná River. Experts point to the Atlantic Forest biome as one of the world hotspots, that is, one of the priority areas for biodiversity conservation, since it shelters one of the most important biodiversity sites on the planet, with about 20,000 species of plants (6.7% of all species in the world), of which 8,000 are endemic, and a great wealth of vertebrates (269 species of mammals, 849 of birds, 197 of reptiles, and 372 of amphibians).

According to the document “Biodiversity Vision for the Upper Paraná Atlantic Forest Ecoregion”, published by WWF-Brazil, in the beginning of colonial times in Latin America, the region of the Brazilian Biodiversity Corridor of the Paraná River covered 471,000 Km2 of continuous forests and high biodiversity of plants and animals. Today it is reduced to only 2.7% of its original extension. In Brazil alone, the Atlantic Forest supplies water to three quarters of the population. Most of the electricity consumed in Argentina, Brazil and Paraguay is generated by Atlantic Forest rivers, especially in the Upper Paraná, where three of the largest hydroelectric power plants in the world – Porto Primavera, Itaipu and Yaciretá – are located. As reported in studies carried out by IPÊ in Pontal do Paranapanema, the corridor region shelters countless species of South-American fauna, among which stand out large carnivores, such as the jaguar and the puma, and mammals, such as tapirs, deers, peccaries, maned wolves, anteaters, and several primates.

ALTOPARANA

Part of the length of the river covered by the expedition, and some reserves visited during the journey. (27) São Paulo Lagoon in Presidente Epitácio; (24) State Park of Ivinhema Floodplains; (29) National Park of Ilha Grande.

The researchers departed from Presidente Epitácio on September 2, 2007, and sailed until they reached the surroundings of the Itaipu Hydroelectric Power Plant in Paraná. Along the journey, they stopped several times at critical points along the Upper Paraná River. Their objective was to produce a technical and photographic report, emphasizing the main threats and opportunities for the viability of the ecological corridor. The expedition logbooks tell the adventures of a ten-day journey downstream along the corridor.”

Dear friends, every Wednesday we will post here one new daily report from our expedition. Keep coming!

Cheers,

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