We're delighted to have a strong population of strange-tailed tyrants at the reserve. So much so that we've adopted these beautiful and endangered birds as the symbol of the Trust
RESERVA DON LUIS
Esteros del Ibera
We purchased Reserva Don Luis in April 2010 after searching for 2 years for a suitable place for a reserve. We have had to work hard to restore this former cattle ranch to its natural state. As well as being a nature reserve we are also a research station and have several projects in the pipeline including a reintroduction program. We welcome visiting biologists and conservation scientists for research into our native species. We also are looking for keen volunteers for periods of at least three weeks.
Aerial Shot of Garden and the 2 houses
In 2015 we constructed a new bridge across our pond at the end of the garden. This pond completely dried up in the drought of 2012 but due to El Nino conditions over the past 2 years it grew into a lake and we had to make the bridge over 75m in length. The work was carried out mainly by our trustees and helpers to whom we are greatly indebted.
New Bridge at Reserva Don Luis
Our reserve consists of 1600 hectares of grassland/wetland and several small woods. We have many endangered Marsh deer grazing on our land and the Capybara population is expanding at a prodigous rate. The ponds to the south are full of Spectacled Caymans and in the woods we see Howler Monkeys, Gray Foxes, Armadillos, Crab-eating Racoons and Geoffroy's cats. In 2013 we had several sightings of a Maned Wolf as well as images on our camera traps but owing to the wetter conditions of the past few years they have temporarily disappeared.
Volunteer's New House
We completed this extension to our ranger's house in August 2016. It is used as an independent unit for our volunteers.
Maned Wolf caught on Camera trap
We now have a healthy population of the Strange-tailed Tyrant (Vul in IUCN redlist) which bred successfully last year. We are currently studying the nesting behaviour of this species.
Male Strange-tailed Tyrant
The Neotropical River Otters have been seen several times recently in our small laguna near to the houses. Since we built the bridge we are finding this a wonderful area to see Otters and birds. Several were seen during the winter especially when we were in a state of flood.
Neotropical River Otter (juv)
Our Marsh Deer have had two disastrous winters within the past few years with several deaths due to a virus to which they are susceptable in wet winters. We are helping veterinarians in Buenos Aires to find a cure for this disease by sending data from any dead animals that we find.
Rosita, our semi-tame Marsh Deer, produces a faun every year - the gestation period is around 8 months.
This is Rosita with Pablito, her faun born in Dec 2012.
We have a lot of Roseate Spoonbills in the north of the Ibera Marshes at the moment which is good news!
Don Luis has been transformed during the past two years. Our 2 main trustees have put a tremendous amount of work improving the place and dealing with governmental bodies with regard to our reintroduction hopes. The trees that we have planted over the past 5 years are thriving, in spite of the flooding, and will be in flower this coming spring - some may even produce some fruit. In the spring we saw around 50 manos fruits on our mango tree and 2 avocaco fruits on the avacado tree. We are hoping that at least some of them may ripen before the birds, monkeys or other animals get them.
The reserve is situated in the northern part of the Esteros del Ibera, about 40km to the southwest of a town called Ituzaingo. Our area is called Cambyreta and our road allows access to the Ibera Marshes from the north. We are only about 35km from the River Parana, which separates Argentina from Paraguay, and the climate is sub-tropical.
Misty Sunrise at Reserva Don Luis
The only way to get around the property in an environmental manner is on horseback and we have six horses which sometimes have to work quite hard.
Mario, our ranger, with 4 of our horses
We have constructed two wooden houses for use by our ranger and ourselves, as well as a volunteer's cabin attached to Mario's house which is available for visiting biologists, researchers and volunteers.
We welcome bird watchers by personal arrangement but we do not permit 'playback' at the reserve. If you are a keen birder and would like to come along please send us an email at email@example.com
Both houses are powered by solar pv and solar thermal which generally functions successfully providing we have suficient sunshine. We also have a windmill which pumps water to the surface as a back up to our solar water pump. The water level varies between ground level and four metres below the surface and our bore hole only had to go down to 18m to guarantee clean, clear water.
Below is the main house
We have a family of seven Black Howler monkeys in the small wood behind the main house, and sometimes one wakes up to a cacophany of sound from these creatures. We appear to have a family of these shy creatures in each of our small woods so, on occasion, can hear a multi stereo chorus of sound, for example just before it rains. These monkeys are very quiet and keep themselves to themselves but seem to tolerate our presence. We believe that the males, when they reach a certain age, are banished from the troop and have to move on to other areas. In Sept 2013 we had a volunteer at the reserve, Alex Roberts, who did a behavioural study on 3 populations of our Howler Monkeys the report of which can be found in the scientfic report page. The juveniles are cream coloured, the females caramel and only the males are black. We had another behavioural study of these mammals early in 2018 by Beatriz Luraschi, a volunteer from the UK.
Black Howler Monkeys
We had two Greater Rheas but sadly the male died recently due to unknown causes. This species is unusual in that the male makes the nest in which he encourages several females to lay eggs. He then takes care of incubation and rearing the chicks.
Nero and Natasha, Greater Rheas
Our incubation shed is equipped with the latest equipment for the incubation of eggs. We hope to start on this part of the project when we have obtained our breeding pair of Bare-faced Curassows.
This is the incubating shed:
We put our incubator room to good use three years ago when we rescued an injured Southern Tamandua who had a very nasty injury to her left ankle. We could not release her until the wound was healed so we kept her in the incubator room at night. During the day she curled up in a bamboo tree and basically slept all day which is normal for a nocturnal mammal. It looks like she had been caught in a trap and fortunately she entered a house in a local village and scared the owner who called the police.
To cut a long story short she ended up at Reserva Don Luis and we attended to her injury and fed her an appropriate diet for an anteater. We released her two months later when her wound was completely healed and although she came back to feed a few times she has now gone and we think she may be in Monte Grande, our largest wood.
We have now created an Argentine branch of the Collett Trust which is called FUCANA, and have added Vicky as one of our committee members. Altogether we have 6 trustees for the two trusts.
This is 'Osita' our Southern Tamandua and she is as gorgeous as she looks here.
We completed the construction of our first bird aviary in 2014. It is a super tall structure designed specially for Bare-faced Curassow. We made it 10m x 5m with a height of 4m and a substantial amount of brick and cement under the surface to prevent foxes from getting in. We collected our first bird, which is a male, in April 2015 and we are on the lookout for a female as well as eggs in the Argentine spring for incubation. We subsequently built a new aviary pending the arrival of our breeding pair.
Sadly our Bare-faced Curassow died in November of natural causes. He was nearly 30 years of age.
We struggled to fund the incubating shed and the two bird aviaries but have managed to pay some of it with a few kind donations and some fundraising. Thank you very much if you have donated, your currency will go a long way in Argentina. We have applied for funding for this project as it is the first re-introduction of this species in Argentina but so far although we have been on the short list we have yet to be successful. The radio-tracking equipment for these birds cost over £1000 ( $1600US) and each aviary so far has cost over £2000 ($3200).
I hate to ask for donations, but we need more money to fund these important projects. If you think we are a viable organisation dedicated to helping endangered species we would be really grateful for any donations - please see our home page.
Bird Aviary which houses our Bare-faced Curassow
Two members of Team Muitu - Liliana our Vet and Miranda our Field Manager
We are very thankful to our volunteers, some of whom have come out here from the UK and have all made a very useful contribution to our work. From top left they are Ed Robinson-Marray, Cassie Horton, Alex Roberts, Edith Villordo, Alex Buxton, James Crees, Sergio Ramirez, Abel Yunis, Sebastian Navajas, Arturo Roselli, Florencia and Sebastian, Melina, Martin Oporto, Martin Rizzo, Valeria, Fede, Maria, Felipe, Lula Amato, Yohanna Rodriguez, Beatriz Luraschi, Gustavo Caceres