The Mashpi Jewel
By: Augusto Rodríguez Flores
No two days are ever the same at Mashpi, eco lodge in Ecuador’s cloud forest. There are days when you can see and hear the common animals that the guests are fond of, but there are also days when you come across species that are so rare that any glimpse of them is a novelty, a great and beautiful surprise for Mashpi’s guests and staff alike.
Such was the case with the Pristimantis ornatissimus, an amphibian species that was seen yesterday by guests and guides on the Lodge’s terrace, who took advantage of the once-in-a-lifetime moment to photograph the extraordinary creature. This beautiful and sweet little frog was found resting on the bromeliad of a tree and immediately grabbed everyone’s attention.
A species endemic to the lowlands of the Chocó and the adjacent hillsides of the Ecuadorian Andes, this frog is nocturnal and arboreal – it lives on large leaves, especially those of bromeliads in the higher parts of the forest. Sadly, this species is now vulnerable due to deforestation, loss of habitat and climate change.
The name of this species is interesting. Its specific nickname (cutín adornado in Spanish, or adorned ‘cutin’) comes from the Latin: ornatus means decorated or ornate. It cannot be confused with any other Ecuadorian frog as it is the most beautiful in its group, which is why it is thought of as a jewel of the Mashpi forest and deserves all our efforts of conservation.
HOWLER MONKEYS ON THE DRAGONFLY
By: Freddy Heredia
Working in Mashpi Lodge is amazing because of what it means to live in such a gloriously natural environment. In my daily work I have been lucky to see various species of animals and so many of the remarkable things that happen in the forest.
Yesterday morning, while I was going about my maintenance work on the cable car, something caught my eye high up in the trees. For a moment I paused in one of the gondolas to see what was happening; suddenly I realised that it was a group of howler monkeys (Alouatta palliata) that had grabbed my attention. Immediately, I took out my smartphone to record the animals as they fed. There was even a baby monkey hanging off its mother as she swung from branch to branch.
All this happened during a sunny morning when these monkeys, whose strong songs or howls can be heard up to 8km away, brightened the day of everyone who was there working on the Dragonfly. The Ecuador eco lodge’s gondola is an amazing attraction, offering its guests the incredible experience of gliding along a 2km-long cable, skimming above the forest.
A rare beast of a bird
By: Wilfrido Basantes
While I was leaving the staff house of the Ecuador eco lodge, I came across a gaudo guan, Penelope ortoni, feeding on the fruits of a miconia. This species is very rare, it only inhabits the Choco ecoregion and is in danger of extinction due to the high rate of deforestation and hunting. These birds are some of the most sought after by bird-watchers. They play a very important role in the dispersal of seeds.