On the Main Boat: Wear non-slip shoes when on the deck, and always use handrails when going up and down the stairs. Do not sit on rails, dangle feet over the deck, or enter the engine room. We have taken the following safety precautions: Life vests are readily available for all passengers and crew. Life rings are visibly placed along railings. Fire meeting points are pointed out to all passengers and crew. The boat crew is trained in emergency procedures, and all crew members are certified by the Peruvian Coast Guard and have official maritime marine documents. The Peruvian Coast Guard inspects the boat for safety.
On the Auxiliary Boats/Canoes: You must always wear a life vest when working from the auxiliary boats or canoes. You will always go with a boat guide in these smaller boats, and should not handle the outboard engines, nor enter the immediate engine area. All guides are trained in boat safety and handling. Canoes and auxiliary boats will never exceed their maximum capacity. All guides can swim, and can assist volunteers in an emergency.
Police/Coast Guard/Military Controls: The expedition may have to pass through official security controls; please do not be alarmed by these. The PI and staff will deal with all controls. You should provide passport information when requested by the PI, staff and/or officials at the controls.
Forest Transects/Trails: Transect census walks can be very physically demanding and potentially dehydrating. Please bring a minimum of one to two liters (approx. 33 to 100 ounces) of drinking water on the transects. Walk slowly, and rest frequently if overheated. You must always wear field boots and field clothes. We also suggest using a walking stick (which you can cut in the forest) when going through muddy areas. Guides will also pace the walk in relation to the physical condition of volunteers and terrain. You will be informed about any potentially harmful plants along the trails, especially those with thorns. Thorns will be removed and treated with disinfectant solution and antibiotic cream. Messengers on foot will be used to alert the boat crew in case of emergency during terrestrial transects, because handheld radio signals are not reliable in the dense forest.
Handling Caimans and Fish: Handling caimans and fish is completely voluntary. Volunteers will only handle caimans and fish, including piranha, once project staff have properly secured the animals. You should wear leather gloves to handle any species of live fish. In the event of a bite, first aid will be administered and, depending on severity, the person may be taken to the nearest clinic.
Mosquitos: Mosquitos are most abundant inside the forest on terrestrial transects. Long sleeved shirts, mosquito net hats and insect repellant are the best ways to decrease annoyance.
Snakes: In the past 20 years of the project, a venomous snake has bitten no one. Nevertheless, harmful snakes, including fer-de-lance, bushmaster, and coral snakes, do live in the area. Anti-venom is kept on the boat and can be applied in extreme cases, but the preferred alternative is to get the injured person to a clinic or hospital as soon as possible. Guides will carry extractors and pressure bandages into the field. All volunteers should wear rubber boots or snake guards when walking in the forest to protect their ankles, and should carefully examine any area where they walk or sit.
Insects: Biting and/or stinging bees, wasps, bullet ants, scorpions, and spiders are all present in the research area. Team members will occasionally be bitten or stung, but these injuries are usually not very severe. If anyone develops an allergic reaction, he/she will be taken to the nearest clinic. If you are allergic to insects, please discuss this with your doctor and bring appropriate medication (e.g., antihistamines, at least two Epi-Pens). Insect bites can get infected, so you should treat and clean any bites. To repel insects, please wear appropriate footwear and clothing, and bring insect repellent into the field. Do not touch trees without first checking for dangerous insects, and carefully examine any area where you intend to sit down. During the caiman surveys, volunteers should turn off flashlights/torches if wasps are present. Anti-red-eye flashes should also be turned off on cameras, and the person handling the spotlight should wear leather gloves.
Domestic Animals and Pets: Volunteers should not touch, pet, or handle any domestic animals at the guard posts, villages, or towns, including dogs, cats, chickens, ducks, or pet primates, parrots, macaws, and any other species.
It will be hot and humid. You will need to protect yourself from the sun with appropriate clothing and sunscreen (at least 30 to 60 SPF) and drink plenty of water throughout the day to avoid dehydration. Some of the small auxiliary boats have sunshades, but the reflection off the water can still cause sunburn. After-burn cream will be available. Rehydration solution may be given to anyone who gets dehydrated. It can rain at any time of the year, so please bring light rain gear suitable for tropical climates. All volunteers should wear light, warm clothes during the early-morning macaw transects and the evening and night caiman surveys, which can be chilly.
Because of the high humidity, those using hearing aid devices may find they don’t work properly.
Always stay with a group when on the expedition. We advise against attending late-night activities when in Iquitos. In case of a problem when you are away from the boat, you should contact the nearest police station or consulate. Local authorities will be contacted in case of any illegal activity.
Swimming is not permitted on this project.
DISTANCE FROM MEDICAL CARE
The nearest hospital is a clinic in Nauta and is approximately 30 kilometers (19 miles) from the site and one hour to reach by speedboat. The hospital in Iquitos is 130 kilometers (80 miles) from the site and takes approximately 3 hours to reach. If you have a chronic condition which could require immediate medical care (e.g., heart conditions, kidney problems, severe asthma, etc.), or if you are pregnant, please discuss your participation on this expedition with your physician.
Diseases found in this region may include dengue fever, Zika virus, cholera, tuberculosis, filariasis, leishmaniasis, onchocerciasis, trypanosomiasis, schistosomiasis, strongyloidiasis, hepatitis, leptospirosis, chikunguya, polio, tick-borne encephalitis, plague, typhoid, and others. You can decrease your risk of most diseases above by avoiding mosquito bites, wearing protective clothing and shoes, practicing good hygiene, and drinking only bottled or filtered water when appropriate. Chloroquine-resistant malaria is endemic to the Peruvian Amazon, and has been frequently reported along the route to Samiria in towns such as Nauta. Rabies is present in the region and can be transmitted by stray dogs and bats. Whether you have been vaccinated or not, always avoid loose and stray dogs. The pre-exposure vaccination does not eliminate the need for post-exposure medical attention and treatment, but it does provide additional protection against the disease in event of a delay in treatment. In addition, bites or scratches should be immediately and thoroughly washed with soap, clean water, and a topical povidone-iodine solution or ethanol. If you feel ill once you return from your trip, make sure you inform your doctor that you have recently returned from a tropical region
Please see the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (cdc.gov) or the World Health Organization (who.int) websites for more information on these conditions and how to avoid them.