Iricahua and Yarapa Rivers

Jan 16, 2020 - Delfin II

A morning exploration of the Iricahua River yields one of the most quintessential views of a three-toed sloth. With extremely slow metabolisms to thank, these sloths descend trees only once a week to use the facilities. The process involves a risky descent to the ground, where it is vulnerable to predation from jaguars and caimans. But the sloth does it for good reason. Besides the much-needed bathroom break, the ground visit helps foster a symbiotic relationship living in the sloth's fur between moths, algae and mammal. Algae grows in the sloth's fur, in part because of the moth. In turn the moth gets a home, and the sloth eats the algae that coats its fur. 

On the Yarapa River, we find spider monkeys. These monkeys, native to the area, were once kept as pets in local villages. The Peruvian government confiscated the pets, rehabilitating and rewilding them before releasing back to the forests that line the Yarapa.

Later, we spotted a female wooly monkey. She is one of about 40 wooly monkeys in this particular stretch of the Yarapa River on the upper Amazon. She and the others were once kept as pets. Once the Peruvian government confiscated them, they were rehabilitated and released back into the wild. The monkeys and the government face a conundrum, though. They are all female. Time will tell if the government will introduce some males into the population.\

We continued our exploration throughout the day and also spotted parakeets, spider monkeys, woodpeckers, great black hawks, wood creepers and macaws.

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About the Author

Morgan Heim

Naturalist/Certified Photo Instructor

Wildlife photojournalist and filmmaker Morgan (Mo) Heim raises a camera for one purpose – to capture moments in an animal’s life that will make us consider what that life means. Inevitably, those stories involve people as much as wildlife.

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