The Awakening of Guyana’s Rainforest | by Molly Crookshank

“…watching and hearing the rainforest awaken made it all worthwhile and an experience I will never forget.”

Guyana holds one of the most intact forests on earth, situated in the North-East of South America. Whilst carrying out scientific research in Iwokrama and Surama, I was lucky enough to experience the wonder of the rainforest waking to a new day in one of the most diverse places on this planet.

The day we would watch the sunrise from Turtle Mountain was the day all the research assistants were waiting for. A few months on and I can still picture the whole process and feel the awakening of the forest and how distinct each animal call was. We set off at 3.30 am and climbed up in the pitch black. I remember pausing to catch my breath and how it was surreal to look behind and see a row of beaming lights amongst the trees from the head torches of my fellow scientists climbing up the hill with me.

Safe to say I have never sweated as much before 4 am in the morning. A climb in heat, humidity and a very muddy ground is unsurprisingly rather hard work. However, watching and hearing the rainforest awaken made it all worthwhile and an experience I will never forget.

We all sat at the top of Turtle Mountain and sat in silence in the darkness looking down over the rainforest. You could just make out mist over the Essequibo River in the horizon. As time went on and everyone else arrived the howler monkeys started calling, their cries travelling across the forest. While trying to distinguish where it was coming from a few ants were out carrying water droplets and debris along the rope we were all sat behind, clearly starting their morning duties for their colony.

As the mist started to roll back over the forest like a blanket, the trees started to become more defined, and the birds began to sing and call to each other. Having done mist netting during the week it was amazing knowing what birds could be amongst the trees. The crickets joined the chorus creating an impressive ensemble, which we had the pleasure of listening to.

The light started to break through the clouds making the trees become more vivid and green and the meanders in the river started to appear. Suddenly white butterflies started fluttering across our view of the sea of green. Butterflies are so colourful and high in abundance in Guyana so you are lucky and always see flickers of one in your eyesight. I was so captivated in the whole process I didn’t want to miss anything. As the howler monkeys call became fainter the insects started to become louder along with different birds singing and calling.

As the mist started evaporating two pairs of bright Green and Red Macaws flew right in front of us, a majestic sight to behold. Trying to follow them with my eyes to see where they flew another pair followed shortly after making distinct calls. It was a joy for the senses looking over the rainforest and hearing all the different species adding to the orchestra. Learning about the sustainable logging in this area earlier in the week, it hit me like a wave and I realised the magnitude of biodiversity out there and the reason why I was here; to help save the rainforest and maintain this hyper diverse system.

About the Entry

Molly Crookshank

I am an Animal Biologist living in Edinburgh with a strong passion for wildlife and conservation, especially in human-wildlife conflict. I have spent my last two summers with Operation Wallacea assisting scientific research in Mexico and Guyana. Doing this has increased my drive and dedication and has led me to study a masters in Wildlife Biology and Conservation at Edinburgh Napier University which I will finish in August 2019.

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