Denis Drouin’s Diary
Climate Change, Canopies and Wildlife in the Ecuadorian Andes

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October 5, 2009: Goodbye, Santa Lucia

MollyArrivingSantaLucia  Today is my last day at the Santa Lucia reserve. My backpack has to be ready by 8:00 am. The only task today is to have breakfast and be down the mountain by 12:00 to catch the bus to Quito. The early birds -- Anne, Agi, Tony Fisher, Megan and I -- decide to take one last chance to perhaps see a spectacled bear. We get up early and have our breakfast. We hug our Santa Lucia Reserve staff to whom I’m so thankful for their warm welcome and their beautiful place, and walk our way down to Maquipucuna reserve. The spectacled bear (Tremarctos Ornatus), the only bear species of South America, is endangered, primarily due to habitat destruction and fragmentation, but also hunting. Spectacled bears migrate altitudinally during the year in search of food. They can move long distances and live for a few months feeding on “paramo” vegetation from the highlands to the subtropical areas. There are only a few thousand individuals in the wild, and in Ecuador scientists still do not know how many individuals are left. In fact scientists that study the bear can spend years without seeing one; only tracking bears from their feces or traces left behind. At Maquipucuna we have the privilege of hosting a Stick  large bear population; in 2009 a researcher identified 16 different individuals, during approximately two to three months every year. Bears prefer a small native avocado-like fruit, "aguacatillo," which is very abundant in the regenerating areas of the Spectacledbear  Reserve. Time of ripening of this plant varies from year to year depending on rainfall pattern changes. What a good decision this was. We are lucky enough to see two bears: WOW! This journey has been intense from day one to the end. So I have finally enough time to have a drink (delicious fruit juice). Temperature here at the mountain bottom is quite higher than at the top, so the TNT Team (Tony DeNis Tony) chill out again by having a last swim in the clear river just nearby! A little later everybody climbs on the bus for the trip back to Quito. We make a small side trip to the airport, a quick hug and good-bye to Agi, who is leaving us here to take her plane to Hungary (Have a nice trip back home, my dear friend). Finally the bus stops at the Posada Del Maple. We all pick up our bags, hug and say goodbye to each other, climb into a taxi and get to our hotel. I decided to stay at the Posada del Maple for my last night. For dinner I go to an Argentinian restaurant and I have a Cuban waiter. What a special way to finish an international trip like this! Ho! Surprise! As I’m looking out the window I see Anthony Fisher. I wave to him and invite him to sip a glass of wine with me. A few minutes later the other Tony, Anthony Flint, joins us. This is been the last time I see these guys.

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