I have only few pictures as I spent most of my time collecting. It was my first time in FG and I found it a very nice Amazonian area with some great entomological lodges in several places.
A big thank you to Jean-Marc for organizing and helping me during the trip.
Let's start with this wonderful mettalic longhorn, Callichroma auricomum. It is not a rare species but I saw them only once, near a dead balata tree that their larvae eat.
Their bronze and green reflects are wonderful.
Montagne de Kaw, FG, Oct 2021.
In this spot, you could admire several splendid "Coq de roche" birds. One of the most famous Amazonian birds. I saw about 15 of them in this spot (not my picture)
J.A. Cerda told me it is a hard to see species as it may always stay high in trees.
French Guiana is very collector friendly with a lot of entomological lodges. People speaks English and French and it is rather safe for an Amazonian area.
And you don't need any collector permit from the French Guiana side (just a custom declaration to fill online before arrival).
There is a limit of 1.000 insect collected per year per person though (which is ok if you collect only rhopalocera like me).
- So you need a Yellow Fever vaccine to enter French Guiana (+ Covid vaccines for the moment).
- I hadn't any parasite issue during my trip there but there are few cases of leishmaniasis.
- some mosquitoes at night, and a lot of horseflies at day (depends of seasons)
Dangerous things are more :
- venimous snakes in the forest and in lodges
- jaguars and pumas (I met one, I have to see if I can post a video here). Females can be aggressive if they have babies with them.
- easy to get lost in the forest (you often have to leave paths due to fallen trees)
- humans. Cayenne is a dangerous city (drugs, alcohol, thieves).
- I would not recommend "night collecting" in the forest. Locals hunt at night using rifles and big lights and shooting everything that moves. Entomological lodges have some secured places for night collecting.
But don't be afraid by this list. French Guiana is much safer than Brazil for example.
PS : There are a lot of issues with Brazilian and Surinamese garimperos in French Guiana but they don't attack tourists and entomologists. They are known for heist when their gold mining material is seized by the French Army and they can't go home without gold or money as they will have BIG issues with the mafia who sent them to French Guiana.
But the most impressive Morphos in French Guiana are Morpho eugenia (who fly nearly at night at 6AM) and Morpho rhetenor (for their impressive blue)
The first night at Camp Patawa (in the Kaw Mountain), I talk with Jean Cerda who has been running this camp for 20 years. He tells me that you can meet jaguars in the forest. I ask him about pumas, he answers me: "pumas are very discreet in Guyana, we almost never meet them. It is because of the hunting, they are wary of men".
The next day, I go up the PK47 track with my friend Jean-Marc Gayman. I am in the front, about 200 meters in front of Jean-Marc.
I walk along the small path, when all of a sudden, at two meters from me, I discover a puma; lying at the edge of the track; which fixes me with a look that freezes your blood. My heart stops, and I have the very strange sensation to find myself for the first time of my life in front of a big predator. The impression of being in the lions' cage... Those who have lived these encounters from so close, understand what I mean.
The puma doesn't move, it continues to stare at me, I try to move back but with the roots in the path, I tell myself that I'm going to fall and that's the last thing I wanted: to fall to the ground facing a puma. The puma continues to stay still, staring at me. I tell myself that I have to take a picture, otherwise nobody will believe me at Camp Pattawa. I take my phone out of my pocket, and take a picture. The puma continues not to move, I put my phone in video mode and manage to film the big cat. At one point, I don't know why, I say the word "puma" and the puma decides to leave. After a jump back, he calmly goes into the forest to show me that he is not afraid of me.
My heart continues to beat, I return on my steps and cross Jean-Marc, I say to him: "you will not guess what I have just crossed", I show him the video, he answers "oh fuck! In the evening at Camp Patawa, many Guyanese told me that they had never seen a puma so close and told me that I had "the luck of the beginner". Only one Guyanese woman told me that she had seen one from so close: she was sleeping in her room when she heard a noise, she turned on the light and saw a puma holding her little dog in its mouth. The puma escaped with the dog...
And now the video:
It seems to be a young female. By luck, she hadn't babies around.
Pumas are smaller in Amazonia than in N. America, as far as I know.
I haven't met any jaguars, saw their huge footprints though. And I saw 2 jaguarundis (a species I didn't know before going there), I hadn't time to picture them.
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