Caiman Lodge is one of the places that provide accommodation for tourists and scientists in Cuyabeno. It has a few cottages and some basic facilities. We stayed here for 4 days, mainly doing observations on rivers. In fact, after entering the room, I soon realized I could observe animals even without going outdoor.
One night, we saw a palm-sized tarantula on our bed. I was surprised because I really love huge hairy spiders, and called others to come and have a look. However, considering that it may crawl on my face when I’m asleep, we called the guide for help. He grabbed the tarantula with a smiling face, transferred it outside for us to observe, until it returned to the forest. In my imagination, these spiders were really dangerous. When pissed off, they could attack even with hair. But it didn’t.
The guide told me, animals can feel human’s emotions. They only attack when we are nervous, as they think we are going to attack. After all there is plenty of food in the Amazon, so there’s no need to hunt humans. The guide held the tarantula feeling totally at ease, so he didn’t think there was a risk of being bitten. I was very skeptical about this, but his successful experiences verified his theory. Perhaps it’s true that we weren’t attacked because we were more excited than scared when we saw the tarantula.
雨林動物多尸體也多，所以有很多禿鷹。最常見的是Black Vulture(圖)，通常在Lodge的樹上就有4、5隻。最罕見的是King Vulture，據說其他的禿鷹都敬牠三分，會把食物拱手相讓。幸運的是，我們竟然遇到牠在上空盤旋！連導遊也興奮得大叫：「King Vulture! Wonder of the jungle!」
Lots of animals mean lots of dead bodies. As a result, vultures thrive in the rainforest. The most common vulture is Black Vulture (shown in the photo). Usually there were 4 or 5 of them on the trees in our lodge. The rarest is King Vulture. It was said that all other vultures offer their food when they see King Vultures. We were very fortunate to have met one. Even the guide shouted excitedly, “King Vulture! Wonder of the Jungle! “
Monkeys are also common (photo on the left: this guy sneaked into our kitchen)
We observed wildlife along the river by canoe. Birds often stop on plants in the water and at river banks. We saw a very special species called Hoatzin almost everywhere. As it looks funny and it can’t fly well, we called it ‘the weird chicken’.
雨林獨有的大嘴鳥 Toucan – species that’s only found in rainforests
這裡不乏巨大或七彩繽紛的動物，但最最令我興奮的還是小小的切葉蟻。他們會切割葉子搬回巢中，但葉子並非食物 – 而是「食物的食物」。葉子會被「加工」成糊狀，用來種植真菌(菇菇栽培嗎)，而這些菇才是食物。小小的螞蟻竟然在進行 農 業 活 動 ！第一次聽到NG的介紹時，我就對牠深深著迷！
We saw lots of huge and colourful animals. But what made me most excited were the tiny leaf-cutter ants. They cut leaves into small pieces, carry back to their nests. But they do not consume leaves. Instead, they mash them to grow fungus (mushroom garden?!), which is their real source of food. These tiny ants are FARMING! When I first heard about it from NG, I was already FASCINATED by this species!
Unfortunately, due to my poor photography skills at that time, I was only able to capture these blurry shadows. In NG documentaries, they’re always shown by super close-ups. But when we really met them, the pieces of leaves were too tiny to be visible, and they looked just like moss. I almost blindly passed by the species that I’ve been looking forward since kindergarten! But when I squatted, they were even closer than the close-ups in NG.
遇到的物種太多，無法盡錄。Cuyabeno的物種多樣性的確驚人，但更驚人的是當我將他和香港比較 – Caiman Lodge附近的鳥類大約有500多種，而香港竟然也有530種! 雖然當中有很多是候鳥，但這也遠遠超過了我的想象，更不用說對觀鳥毫無興趣的大眾了。香港的自然環境，似乎值得更多宣傳和關注。
It’s impossible to show all species we’ve met. Biodiversity of Cuyabeno was astonishing, but what’s even more astonishing is the comparison between Cuyabeno and HK – number of bird species around Caiman Lodge is about 500-600, and that in HK is more than 530! Although most of them are transients, it’s still far beyond my expectation, not to mention ordinary citizens who’re not interested in bird-watching. Maybe natural environment in HK worth more promotion and attention.