My two weeks as a wildlife photographer in Ecuador




I was recently asked by the Fundacion Fauna de la Amazonia, a conservation project located near the tropical Llanganates National Park in Ecuador, to volunteer my services as a wildlife photographer. Being an amateur, this was my first "official" photography position, and I was delighted!


For two weeks, I happily traipsed around the jungle searching for anything that moved and photographing it, or more appropriately as the case may have been, trying to photograph it. I volunteered to document the animal life present at the “finca” of the Fundacion Fauna de la Amazonia, as it is a newly-purchased plot of land and it’s important to know what kind of life is present before conservation work begins. 


I spent my days getting up before dawn and walking for two to three hours to see what I could spot. I watched the sun rise from my favorite bird hotspots and watched it glint off the spectacular blue and green feathers of Paradise Tanagers. As hawks preened quietly in the nearby trees, and butterflies flitted lazily in the morning sunshine, I photographed hummingbirds, parrot flocks flying overhead, kites circling high, and the many songbirds that wake up on those forested slopes.

During the day I either sat in the middle of the forest and quietly listened for life, or walked up the only rocky road leading through the project area to look for animals which venture into more open habitat. At night I took walks to look for frogs, and found them in abundance. I photographed five species of frog, two of them unknown, an unknown lizard, and discovered three species of birds not previously documented on the land. I also witnessed a land crab carrying away a giant millipede at least as big as its own body, a clutch of lizard eggs that hatched shortly after being discovered, and two juvenile hawks newly fledged from the nest . Much to my chagrin, I also found myself photographing lots of giant spiders. Colorful and sometimes amusingly-patterned insects abound in the area, and when they are not busy biting you or sucking your blood, they do make for a great picture. My favorite was a small beetle that looked like a piece of gold sitting right atop a leaf, reflecting the sun like a bright piece of metal.

With each new photo snapped, more information about the area becomes available. This information will be useful in the area’s future conservation. Some of these animals are endemic to this area, and are not seen anywhere else in the world, and it’s important to document them to raise awareness of the area and its need to be preserved. I not only enjoyed my two weeks in this jungle immensely, I have hopefully helped and will continue to help keep it around for many years to come.




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