May 6th, 2005
Today we went with Rainer and Jason to the ‘Lowland forest’. We continued the road to Yurimaguas. A little before Ponga de Caynarachi we left the mountains and came in the lowlands. Everywhere you saw deforestation, the most hills were almost completely barren, just every now and then you saw some small trees and some bushes. At some hills were there was still some forest, they were cutting down trees. We had lunch at Ponga, we would return here for the night. Well ahead Ponga we left the main road. Soon Rainer got scared, everywhere you saw that recently the forest was cut down. Should Rainers piece of land, still exist? He could buy that piece of land, but unfortunately he had no finances to buy it. He really would love to buy a part of that forest as there lived an unique specie of D. fantasticus. Within a year or so this fantasticus would be extinct if he could not buy that piece of land. Fortunately that part of the forest still existed, although you heard a chainsaw at the background. At several spots giants of the forest were cut down. If Rainer wanted to buy this piece of land, he soon had to find some sponsors. If you do not live permanently at such piece of land, or let a family live there, there is nothing to do against illegal tree cutting. But the trunks of the giants of the forest were interesting for the frogs. Several still had bromeliads, little ferns etc. At the first tree trunk we saw already straight away a D. imitator, completely different from the ones we had found at the biological station and we found as well a D. ventrimaculatus. Here the imitator looks like a ventrimaculatus. The ventri’s we found here are much brighter as the ones we have back home in our hobby. The imitator here has the same colours as the ventri, but has only dorsal stripes, the ventri has also some very fine and small sidelines. Unfortunately we did not find the special fantasticus. We also saw several E. trivittatus. They were far from shy, unless you almost stood at them. Some were quite curious and were watching what we were doing, when I moved a few meters further to take another picture, they came to see what was so special over there. One followed me for quite some while. A few times a set a step towards to him, than he jumped a meter aside, but a minute later, he came close by again. When it was getting dark, we returned to the main road to search tree frogs. If we heard them, we stopped the car and started to search. We found several hyla triangular, although you sometimes thought to find another specie. We also found a hyla leucophylatta, a real beauty. Rainer was straight ahead very enthusiastic, a new variant for him. We had to put it in a cup and to take with us to the biological station, so he could determine it later if it was a new subspecie. Rainer is always in search of ‘new species’, one of his favourite words.
May 7th, 2005
We spent the night at Ponga, at a plain pension, a double room with mosquito nets for 3 USD. We have had worse rooms for much more. We woke up early this morning, maybe we could find in the early morning the fantasticus. We went a little further than the spot were we were the day before. Jason had seen there the last time he was in Peru, also some of these special fantasticus. The last part of the road we had to walk, you could not get through the mud, also not with a 4WD. Jason’s part of the forest was indeed very beautiful, but with just a few frogs. We saw a young femoralis and some trivittatus. Jason saw a fantasticus jumping away, but we could not find him anymore. So we returned to the part of the forest of yesterday. We saw again some ventri’s and imitators. And also several anoles. A little later Han found the first fantasticus, it was indeed the most beautiful fantasticus we had ever seen, even Jason who had seen many fantasticus, found this one, one of the most beautiful fantasticus he had seen. We were mainly searching for the fantasticus at trees, as they are really tree residents, but Han had found this one just above the ground at a tree trunk in a small swamp. So we caught this one to make some good pictures. During the photo shoot we heard the sound of chainsaws. A strange feeling when you are taking pictures of such a beautiful frog, knowing that soon this forest is no more, so also this fantasticus variant. Around noon we returned to Ponga, we had lunch and picked up our luggage and returned to Tarapoto. At the way back we dropped Jason at km 34. Completely broken we arrived late at night Tarapoto. The road was all bumps, mostly we could not drive faster than 20 km an hour, as the road was full with big wholes, rocks and mud. Again delay because a truck going to Yurimaguas got stuck in the mud, at the middle of a sloop. Tens of people were standing around, looking if they could help. But with those heavy loaded trucks this is not easy. A little later with some effort, normal cars could pass by, but all the trucks had to wait until this truck was released.
May 8th, 2005
Today we had a day rest in Tarapoto. It was ‘dia de la madre’ in Peru. A big celebration here, for all the women, mother or not. All women are congratulated by everyone, even I got congratulated many times. Rainer wanted to take us out with his wife, but we said he had to celebrate this day with his wife. For Mariana, his wife this day meant a lot. In the afternoon Jason arrived, Evan Twoney, another biology student would arrive and help him with his investigation. At night we went with the four of us out for dinner.