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...two travellers in search of the world's wildlife

3 June 2011

Fernando and Amory

31st May 2011

We went out kayaking first thing in the morning, an alternative attempt to find the rare Southern River Otter. The river was just as eye-achingly beautiful as yesterday, and just as quiet. No otters at all, but a lovely kayak trip nonetheless. We dedicated the rest of the day to relaxing around the lodge, and by great good fortune a couple of Southern Pudu wandered out onto the grass below the cabin to graze. These guys are the smallest deer in the world, and also endangered. Fernando and Amory have been naturalising the area below the cabins to attract them.

I am deeply impressed by what Fernando and Amory have done and are doing. They came out to Chiloe from Santiago many years ago, the typical “break to the country” we do in the UK but instead of swapping metropolitan life for gastropubs, village greens and a bit of mud on the old Chelsea tractor the backwaters of Chiloe are something else. When they arrived the area wasn’t even connected to the national grid. So they actually got to witness the startling change this event had on local communities. Within a few months of electricity arriving all the local households had bought electrical appliances on payment plans they couldn’t afford, resulting in electricity bills they also couldn’t afford. Within a few years the omnipresence of television had the younger members of the community lusting for city life and modernity. Many families moved lock, stock to Ancud (which passes for a city around here) and the sense of local community began to fray.

Fernando and Amory are deeply committed to conservation, but are finding it an uphill struggle. There’s a penguin colony on a tiny offshore island which they take people to on hikes and a boat crossing. Of course, other locals see the money in this and cheerfully take anyone and anything over to the island. They’ve seen evidence of motorbikes around the colony, and heard of people taking dogs over. Penguins are helpless on land, are so very easily stressed. Alarmingly, this year the penguins left the colony a month earlier than usual after breeding. No-one in the government is remotely interested and Fernando and Amory have limited success in persuading locals that they may be killing the golden goose.

These are big issues and big struggles. I have to admit, they set my own trials and tribulations properly into perspective. And amidst all the work required to educate the local community and to keep an eco-lodge running as a two-person operation, both Fernando and Amory find time to be lovely and welcoming people. Everyone should come and visit here. :)


2 Responses to “Fernando and Amory”

  1. Dave says:

    Sounds absolutely amazing, total isolation too by the sound of it, love that it is #1 of 1 attractions in Chepu.

    • shortclaws says:

      It really was, both isolated and amazing. In fact almost two months later it remains the best part of our South American leg. Only the Galapagos remains to defeat it…

      How’s sunny Berkhamsted, by the by? : )

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