El Aguacate, the protected forest at Morgan’s Rock, is part of the Nicaraguan network of private reserves, or La Red de Reservas Silvestres Privadas. Over the past two days, a team of three biologists (one botanist in this forties and two zoologists in their twenties) has been walking through the reserve, photographing and documenting the wildlife they encounter in order to perform a sort of valuation study of the natural resources at El Aguacate. For the past week this team has been in the Rivas/San Juan del Sur area qualitatively assessing the floral and faunal density and diversity at around thirteen different private reserves; similar teams around the country are doing the same according to region.
José Gabriel Martínez Fonseca, one of the zoologists who also sports a Nikon camera that seems to have a telephoto lens (it looks almost a foot long), calls his photography enterprise Svaldvard Ink., after watching a show on the Svalbard archipelago in Norway on the Discovery Channel as a kid. Interested in the polar bears, he wrote down what he heard and years later preferred his own spelling of the word, adopting it as a username/alias for business. With his camera and skill as a biologist whose job it is to document species of reptiles, amphibians, birds, and mammals, José was able to photograph animals that have evaded my lens during my time at Morgan’s Rock. He was happy to share his images with me, so now I can share some of the best of them: all the photos in this post are his.
Here are of the criteria necessary to qualify as a nature reserve: the property must be in an area with prioritized ecosystems for conservation (forests, mangroves, etc.), contain threatened or endemic species (according to national or CITES standards), archeological, cultural, or geological resources of local or national relevance, ecotourism potential. Most importantly, there must be restoration and protection of flora and fauna through environmentally friendly means, and any harvesting must be sustainable and/or organic, with soil and water conservation.
In the next few days I’ll explain how the Nicaraguan network of private reserves operates, how the Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources incentivizes conservation, and what was happening at El Aguacate in particular.