In 2013 the South Rupununi Conservation Society received funding from the Conservation Leadership Programme Follow Up Awards and the GEF-Small Grants Programme. Our new two year project will develop our understanding of the Red Siskin and continue our conservation efforts in the South Rupununi. Keep checking our website and Facebook page for updates and pictures.
The Red Siskin (Carduelis cuculatta) is one of the most endangered birds in the world. Once a common bird in northern Venezuela, it was trapped to near extinction due to the cage bird trade and futile efforts within the industry to selectively breed a red canary.
In April 2000, a research team from the Smithsonian Institute discovered the Red Siskin during an expedition in the eastern part of the South Rupununi savannahs, for whom we were acting as guides and assistants. The rarity and significance of the Red Siskin prompted immediate discussions on the protection of the species. The Smithsonian Institute spearheaded a local conservation approach, and we were established and mandated by the Environmental Protection Agency to protect and monitor Red Siskin populations in the Rupununi Region.
Over the past decade we have conducted extensive surveys of the Red Siskin in the Rupununi and across the border in Brazil, to ascertain population size and species behaviour. We have raised awareness of the bird in local communities, stopped its capture by local caged bird traders, and guided many visiting birdwatchers to their first sightings of this exceedingly rare bird. Our experiences have been invaluable in understanding the feeding habits and behavioural patterns of this minute and rare bird.
Currently we continue to survey and monitor the Red Siskin, and are proud to note that the species population in the Rupununi appears stable, healthy, and on the increase.
The Jaguar is the largest cat in the Americas, and the only significant animal threat to the open-range cattle ranching practiced throughout the Rupununi. Its feeding patterns often bring it into close proximity with human populations, where it is often viewed with natural fear and suspicion.
From 2011 to 2012, Dr. Evi Paemalaere conducted a field study of jaguar populations in the Rupununi Region on behalf of Panthera. During her time researching at Dadanawa Ranch, we worked as her field guides and research assistants. In March 2012, she conducted a two-day workshop on camera trap techniques, further teaching local volunteers methods and strategies for field research.
Giant River Turtle
There are two species of freshwater turtle (Podcnemis expansa and P. unifilis) that play an integral role in the Rupununi river ecosystem, and are a traditional source of food for Amerindian populations. In recent years the River Turtle population has witnessed a steep decline that is attributed to burgeoning development and population growth.
The SRCS is working with Sand Creek Village on a turtle conservation initiative involving seasonal nest site monitoring, hatchling protection, and local education. We are in the process of seeking funding for this project and aim for a launch in the spring of 2013.