“Since I was a child I wanted to find something new,” he says. “But this was a collaboration. A lot in biology is hidden, secretive. Science shouldn’t be selfish! We should share information to protect the forest.”
There was also the Mashpi Magnolia, and, Carlos estimates, some 10 to 15 new species will also emerge.
Though his sights are firmly trained on wildlife, Carlos has another clear objective for his time at Mashpi: to change the lives of people.
“I once did a course about birds given by a man who had never studied, never been to school or learned about biology. And I learned so much from him. So from then I decided I wanted to give other people the same opportunities that I’ve had, by sharing the knowledge I have,” he explains.
Carlos set about involving local people in the projects, employing them as guides and in the Butterfly House. He studiously trained them and asked them to spread the knowledge. Now, around 80 percent of Mashpi’s employees come from local communities.
According to Carlos, this is key for the conservation of the cloud forest: the integration of local communities into the project. He believes in raising consciousness among the disparate groups who have made the area their home.
“People here are colonialists, they are not an integrated community. We need to change their ideas about agriculture and introduce a long term sustainability plan. We need to make them feel proud of the cloud forest!” he says.
As for future plans, Carlos is keen to expand the project across the region: “Conservation doesn’t work if we’re an island.”
An immediate goal is for investigation to become part of the guest experience at Mashpi Lodge, and to develop the scientific department.
“This is the most important thing for me. I want interaction between biologists and guests, for guests to feel like they are part of this program,” he adds.
Carlos cannot pick out one favourite place in the reserve, but admits that night walks through rivers are what excite him most.
“I like the fact that you only have one point of view so you focus more. I’ve had more finds in the night time than in the day.”
And as long as he has his trusty boots on, getting wet is the icing on the cake.