Spotlight on our Butterfly Keeper at Inkaterra

Butterfly House at Inkaterra

Located near the Puerto Maldonado Airport, the Butterfly House here at Inkaterra is a welcome and information centre for all travellers that pass through our doors. Here you will understand the fascinating transformation of these colourful insects. We caught up with our butterfly keeper at Inkaterra Helmut Rengifo to find out a little bit more about these incredible insects.

1. Tell us a little about your background and how you came to be a butterfly keeper?

I used to work in the “Instituto de Investigaciones de la Amazonía Peruana – IIAP” which is an organisation dedicated to Scientific & Technological Research for Development, specialising in the sustainable use of the biological diversity in the Amazonian regions. It develops activities in a decentralised way, promoting the participation of state & private institutions as well as of the civil society.  I dedicated myself to studying the local biodiversity, its management as well as the breeding of immature Lepidoptera until I had the opportunity to start working at the Japipì Butterfly House –  Inkaterra Butterfly House´s former name -  considered one of the best butterfly farms in Peru & was a great opportunity of experience for me.

 2. How long has the butterfly house been there? What do you feed the butterflies?

The Butterfly House has been around since 2001 and is under Inkaterra´s management since 2007 onwards.

Butterfly House - Inkaterra

The butterflies eat as follows: when they are still caterpillars or larvas: their surrounding host plant leaves; when they are adults: fruit juice from ripe fruit, the liquid from their excrements, pollen, flower nectar, liquid produced by any material in decomposition.

3. What does a typical day look like for you here at Inkaterra Butterfly House?

A regular working day at the Butterfly House starts with cleaning followed by feeding  hundreds of hungry & voracious caterpillars! Then we have to count the number of caterpillars and check the newly born ones from the night.

Butterflies at the Inkaterra Butterfly House

In the afternoon we have to place new food for nocturnal caterpillars; then the pupas are hung on the shelves, and the new posturas or butterfly eggs are  collected. The day ends with the liberation of the butterflies born that day in the exhibition enclosure.

4.  There are around 3,800 species of butterfly here in Peru. Which is your favourite and why?

The Panacea prola, because it is the one I have been doing major research work. It is truly stunning.

The Panacea prola

5. Have you noticed a change in the number of butterflies in recent years at the Inkaterra Butterfly House?

Yes, we have noted that many of the butterflies we have in the Butterfly House do not lay as many eggs as they used to do. We don´t have a proper answer to this but are observing their comportment on a daily basis.

6. There has been press in the last year in regards to a decreased number of monarch butterflies in South America. How can we help towards increasing the butterfly population?

A possible way to increase  the population of these types of butterfly would be to seed host plants from which the Caterpillar usually feeds from, in various places. This way it would be favourable for the Caterpillar to lay its eggs in a place where it can feed, therefore the regular reproductive cycle could continue.  If the plants disappear, the butterflies also disappear.

Butterflies at Inkaterra

Butterflies are one of our favourite things to see here at Inkaterra. Are they yours too? Share your pictures you’ve taken of butterflies with us on Twitter or Facebook with hashtag #InkaterraButterfly

Fishing at Cabo Blanco

Iconic ‘Miss Texas’ fishing boat is sailing again in Cabo Blanco, with renowned captain Norm Isaacs on the lead. While it currently serves research purposes in the tropical sea of Northern Peru, the Miss Texas gear is also being tested during excursions. This month, the fishing of a 24-pound Mahi-Mahi (Coryphaena hippurus) was caught on video. Using Boomerang fishing rods tailored for Inkaterra and Everol reels, deckhands Juan Panta and Diego Rehder and angler Alex Passapera (sitting on the Murray Brothers chair) caught the Mahi-Mahi when sailing 12 miles off shore. As soon as it had bitten a cedar plug, the angler did his job and Diego performed the leadering, holding the fishing line to let the catch swim next to the boat. When it was close enough, Juan took care of the gaffing, bringing the fish on board. After weighing it, the catch went into Miss Texas’ ice-filled Engel cooler.

Cabo Blanco

It was just its third expedition and despite sailing dark waters that day, another two Mahi-Mahis were caught while other fish were spotted. It is worth mentioning that just some days before, a 250-pound Black Marlin (Makaira indica) jumped twice near the boat, which allows captain Norm Isaacs to confirm Cabo Blanco’s potential for sport fishing.

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Anaconda found at Inkaterra Hacienda Concepción

We have a very exciting sighting this month from Inkaterra Hacienda Concepción!

Inkaterra Hacienda Concepcion

It was 10 a.m. when Inkaterra explorer guides Ghlemm and Justo were leading a group of travellers in the ‘Cocha’ excursion. Hidden in some bushes on the shore of Concepción creek, a green anaconda (Eunectes murinus) was encountered. Though it remained tangled and its head could not be seen, a good look at its width and the tail’s end allowed guides to estimate that this snake was about 4 meters long! Other explorer guides were told of the sighting, so they could lead their groups of travelers to where the anaconda remained quiet. Everyone was enthusiastic about it, as this kind of snake is extremely hard to find.

Wildlife spotted at Inkaterra Hacienda Concepcion

Eunectes murinus (derived from the Greek ‘ευνήκτης’ meaning “good swimmer” and the Latin ‘murinus’ meaning “of mice”, for being thought to prey on mice) is a non-venomous boa species, considered the largest, heaviest and second longest snake. It can reach about five meters long, and female specimens are larger than males in adulthood. Green anacondas are found in South America east of the Andes, from the Guianas to Paraguay, and tend to live in or around water in marshes and swamps from tropical rainforests. Employing constriction to subdue their prey, anacondas eat mostly fish, birds, small mammals and other reptiles. Larger anacondas can even hunt tapirs, deer, capybaras and caimans, though these are not commonly consumed. Though local legends depict this species as a man-eater, little evidence supports this practice.

Anaconda at Inkaterra Hacienda Concepcion

After about an hour later, the anaconda had migrated as the river and the creek increased their water level due to heavy rains in the area. Such an exciting encounter made a very special day at Inkaterra Hacienda Concepcion. Have you ever spotted any wildlife during a stay at Inkaterra? Share with us with hashtag #InkaterraWildlife