THE South Rupununi Conservation Society (SRCS) in collaboration with Katoonarib Village recently held the first Katoonarib Nature Fair to raise awareness of the importance of Giant Anteaters and other wildlife in the Rupununi, as well as to celebrate the creation of the Community Conservation Zone.
This zone was launched to help maintain the healthy population of Giant Anteaters in Katoonarib and involved meeting with all of the residents of the community to create a set of rules and design a boundary to protect the said animals.
The fair was attended by the residents of Katoonarib Village, SRCS members from other communities, visitors from across the Rupununi, and the EU Ambassador to Guyana, Fernando Ponz Cantó, among others.
It included many different activities such as a Giant Anteater Craft Competition where entries could be made from any material, including wood, cotton, baskets and leather and could take any form such as a belt or a model of an anteater.
There were also many environmental education games for children and adults as well as booths where people could learn about different environmental issues. The Rupununi Livestock Producers Association (RLPA) was also in attendance and gave away ‘chicks’ as prizes for their various activities for residents.
Participants of the Nature Fair could have also made various crafts including designing their own leather belt, bracelet or necklace.
“SRCS is now aiming to help communities create more Community Conservation Zones in communities across the Rupununi where the villages want to protect wildlife whose population they believe is declining,” SRCS Programme Coordinator, Neal Millar told Guyana Chronicle, adding: “SRCS also believes that this model can be replicated across Guyana and are keen to share the idea with communities across the country.”
According to him, SRCS is also planning to hold more community nature days to raise awareness of the importance of wildlife in communities throughout the Rupununi. The next planned event will be the “Sawariwau Nature Day” in Sawariwau Village on Sunday, April 10.
Meanwhile, over the past few decades, residents of the Rupununi have noticed a significant decline in the number of Giant Anteaters (Myrmecophaga tridactyla) that they were seeing in the wild. There were multiple suggested reasons for this but there was no scientific evidence or data to support their claims.
“A continued decline in the population could have consequences for Guyana’s biodiversity, local ecosystems and impact sectors such as the tourism industry,” Millar observed. So in August 2019, the SRCS was granted funds by the Sustainable Wildlife Management Programme Guyana and the GEF Small Grants Programme Guyana to start conducting research on Giant Anteaters.
SRCS chose Katoonarib Village to be the site of the Giant Anteater research and signed an agreement with the community on what activities would be conducted. Before starting the activities, SRCS trained five males and five females from Katoonarib to be SRCS rangers who would be the ones to complete the activities. Following this, the rangers then spent the next two and a half years collecting data on Giant Anteaters through household surveys, monitoring and camera trapping.