In May we were invited by the Crees Foundation to their Manu Learning Center in the Peruvian Amazon to run two BCAP courses. The training was for members of their Tree Top Manu research team. Tree Top Manu is a pioneering project initiated by their team leader Andy Whitworth. Its aim is to use camera traps installed within the rainforest canopy to provide evidence to support the theory that primary un-logged forest is better for vertebrate biodiversity, supporting more animal species than regenerated secondary forest.

James arrived in Cusco and was met by members of the TTM team. The bus journey from Cusco to Manu was nothing short of epic. An 8 hour drive that began at 3399m elevation and ended at 450m. A descent of 3km from the high Andes down through lush cloud forest to the banks of the Alt Madres de Dios river in the Amazon. Snow covered peaks at lunchtime – mist covered tropical rainforest by dusk.


The Crees Foundation’s Manu Learning Centre.

James was made very welcome at the MLC – a small slice of paradise situated amongst naturally regenerating rainforest in the heavily forested foothills that form the Southern boundary of the Manu National Park. If you’ve never heard of the Manu NP: Google it! It is quite possibly one of the most fascinating and pristine rainforest wildernesses left on the planet.

lawrence climbing 2

BCAP trainee Lawrence Whittaker high up in the Cedrelinga tree.

The two 5 day courses were both held in a beautiful Cedrelinga tree (Cedrelinga catenaeformis), located about 450m from camp. A gem of a tree with beautiful views of the distant mist covered mountains from its canopy.

Both courses went very well – everyone passed, which saved the James the acute embarrassment of having to fail his hosts (!), and it was obvious that the 10 students who completed the training were passionate about rainforest ecology and considered this training to be an extremely useful and practical tool with which to pursue future research within the canopy.

The very next day the newly trained canopy researchers headed off down river on their three week expedition to install remote camera traps within the canopy of pristine virgin forest further within the national park.

The courses were a success and it was a real pleasure to be invited out there by Crees and to receive such a friendly and warm welcome on site. The BCAP training programme was invented and designed to cater for exactly this sort of application and it was a joy to teach people with such a genuine and open passion for the tropical rainforest canopy.

CAL wishes Tree Top Manu the very best of luck for its future research and we sincerely hope to be working with you guys again sometime in the near future!

Here are a few of James’ snaps from the trip…

rescue lower

Rope rescue training during the BCAP

bullet a nt on rope

A Bullet Ant on one of our climbing ropes. mean little b******* with a sting to make your eyes water.

manu poison arrow frog

Yet another highly toxic member of the Manu ecosystem: a Manu Poison Dart Frog.

jaguar footprint

The closest that James knowingly got to a Jaguar during his time there.

tree skin shed

A Capirona tree (Calycophyllum spruceanum) in the process of shedding its skin like a snake.

scarlet macaw

Gratuitous shot of some Scarlet Macaws, just to prove that James actually went to the Amazon.

map tree frog

A ‘Map Tree Frog’ at MLC. Check out it’s crazy square eyes!