Adventures in Iguazu
My name is Raphaella Ridley and I am a student at Somerville College Oxford. This summer, I took part in an environmental internship organised by Green Planet Ventures that was based in Iguazu National Park, Brazil, where me, and six other interns stayed for a month.
On my first day, the other interns took me to the Iguazu Falls, the main tourist spectacle of the Park. As a first impression, it was stunning, and I feel very privileged to have spent a month working alongside these waterfalls. One of my highlights from the whole trip was from an night in our second week, when we were able to observe a ‘moon rainbow’ over the falls, something which I do not think I will ever be able to see again!
The work we did during our internship consisted mainly of composing a literature review regarding population health, and the health of coatis, a prominent species within the Park (shown to the right).
However, other work also included roadkill monitoring in the Park (where we cycled 11km to the waterfalls, looking for animals that could have been harmed or killed on the roads) and walking through trails in the forest and checking camera traps to monitor jaguar activity. We even had the opportunity to take part in the clearing of a new trail through the forest! At the end of our internship, we presented our work to some of the staff at the park, including the director and some Brazilian interns and I also thought that this was really interesting as we all took part in different projects that related to our degrees. I feel like I really learnt a lot from this work and it really gave me a good idea of what working in conservation really involved.
We also had the amazing opportunity to take part in some outdoor activities that take place in the park. This began with abseiling at Macuco Safari. This was something which I had never experienced before and so, at first, I found it pretty scary.. However, getting over the initial fear came quickly and soon I found myself elated by the thrill. We also had the opportunity to see the falls from a boat. We chose to do the wet option, in which we were taken right underneath one of the waterfalls! We were also surprised by a trip in a helicopter! thought it was really interesting to be able to see the National Park as a whole as it helped me to understand that the Park is composed of a lot more than just the falls, which is what most people only see. It was interesting to contrast this to seeing the magnitude of the water from very close up in the boat.
Furthermore, we had the opportunity to do some white-water rafting down the river as a group. We also took part in a workshop about film-making to teach us how to create audio-visual content to document our experiences, which will ultimately aid us to create a video about our experiences.
During our stay, we were also able to visit the Argentinian side of the Park, which I found very different and a lot bigger than the Brazilian side. I thought this was really beautiful as it was composed of hundreds of smaller waterfalls. In our free time, we also travelled to Ciudad del Este in Paraguay.
Overall, I really would urge people to participate in a similar internship because feel like I took a lot more away from it in terms of appreciation as we saw the park from many different perspectives. I am incredibly grateful for the opportunities presented and would really really like to thank everyone that was involved.