Our story began in the mid-1990s when Fauna Forever's founders were tasked by the Peruvian government with monitoring the benefits and impacts of ecotourism development on rainforest wildlife in and around what is now the Tambopata National Reserve and Bahuaja Sonene National Park, two important protected areas in the Madre de Dios region of Peru. Based on the concerns of the Peruvian National Parks Authority (SERNANP) regarding the potential effects of a fast-growing ecotourism sector on the integrity of wildlife communities at the time, we pulled together a team of Peruvian, British, and North American wildlife specialists, raised funding from donor organisations around the world, and with the help of a few motivated volunteers and student interns, set about studying this particular issue. The work culminated in a series of articles, thesis publications, and local presentations showcasing our results and main conclusions - that ecotourism on its own generated very few wildlife impacts at the time and indeed could be regarded as a strong motivating force for forest and wildlife conservation in the Madre de Dios region of Peru.
Our mission is to build a world where nature conservation and sustainability thinking are cornerstones of a society's development and wellbeing, resulting in a healthy and prosperous Planet Earth for everyone.
Our values as an organisation and those that drive the work of our staff can be summarised in the following words:
INTEGRITY - LOCAL - DIVERSITY -
KNOWLEDGE - COLLABORATION -
SUSTAINABILITY - EDUCATION -
FAIRNESS - OPENNESS
Our Guiding Principles
Since then, growing the wildlife dataset both longitudinally (over a greater span of time) and horizontally (over a greater area), and the importance that this could have for understanding truly long-term changes in wild nature, given the growing threats from environmental degradation and climate change, has motivated the team to deepen the scope of research to include a broader range of species, forest types and land-use categories, as well as economic and social variables. In addition, the team ambitiously increased the remit of activities to include community-based projects (in recognition of the importance that native and mestizo communities play as good stewards of healthy forests), as well as environmental education projects, collaborative projects with public and private landowners and other non-profit organisations, and general conservation advocacy and information sharing. We are now strong believers that forest conservation can bring equal or greater levels of prosperity to local people as compared with land-use practices that destroy forest, especially when one also considers the long-term harmful effects on human health that rapid, unplanned, and unregulated forest clearance can bring.
The importance of volunteers and interns has grown over the years as we have recognized the value that they provide in helping our environmental and socio-economic research and conservation efforts become more efficient. As a consequence, we now manage arguably the largest and longest-running volunteer and internship program in the Madre de Dios region, taking in eager learners from over 30 different countries. In addition, a proportion of the profits donated by the ecotourism ventures that our partner organisations are involved in, provide a way for tourists to indirectly support our projects. Together, these programs and ecotourism-based income have reduced our reliance on external grants to support our work, as was mostly the case in the past, with the added benefit of a more constant stream of funds flowing to our projects.
(1) To understand how nature works in a hyper-diverse ecosystem such as a tropical forest, we need good questions and careful, standardised observation of multiple variables over long periods of time and a good understanding of how to analyse the data. Experiments can be very useful for understanding some types of interactions or responses. The positions we take will be based on sound, objective and professional analysis and high standards of research.
(2) As tropical research, conservation, and sustainability practitioners, we work cooperatively with individuals and groups, with non-profit and for-profit organisations and busineses, and with local and national government bodies committed to maintaining healthy ecosystems, healthy cultures, and healthy rural and urban economies.
(3) To help rural largely forest-based communities conserve their indigenous knowledge and to leverage this knowledge for the benefit of these communities in an increasingly competitive world which tends to undervalue this knowledge, thus helping to fight injustice and healing the wounds of the past.
(4) We use our knowledge of environmental, socio-cultural, and economic systems to help design and implement solutions to society’s problems and to help nudge society onto a more sustainable development path.
(5) We are open, honest and accountable in our relationships with everyone we work with, and with each other.
(6) We are politically non-partisan and non-sectarian (non-religious) in our work.
Our research, education, collaboration and conservation efforts are now spread over more than 70 locations across three of Peru’s regions: Madre de Dios, Cusco, and Puno. With offices in the cities of Cusco and Puerto Maldonado, we are well placed and eager to spread our ideas and contribute to efforts to understand and conserve wild nature while contributing to the improvement of local livelihoods.
Meet The Team
Sandra Felipa Luna
Co-founder, Secretary of the Board, Media Coordinator, Cusco Office Administrator
Sandra is a communications and resilience specialist, and advocate for sustainable living, gender equality, community inclusion, ecotourism development, and environmental education. She has a BA in Journalism from the Jaime Bausate & Mesa School of Journalism and has worked as a television and radio reporter, producer and director of radio programs, communications consultant, environmental education consultant, in addition to various project management and administration positions. With over twenty years of experience working in Lima, Cusco, and Puerto Maldonado, she brings a can-do mentality to the team and helps everyone understand the importance of pragmatic thinking and communication when it comes to getting things done in Peru. She enjoys reading, travelling, interior design, gardening, and bringing up kids. Sandra is Peruvian, she is married, has two daughters, and lives in Cusco, Peru.
Co-founder, Board President, Executive Director,
Chris is a team builder with a lifelong passion for science, nature conservation, and sustainability. He is very focused on finding pragmatic solutions to the age-old problems of environmental degradation, poverty, and low education standards in developing countries, in his push for a healthier and more balanced life for all. He has a PhD in Biology from the University of East Anglia, an MRes in Ecology and Environmental Management from the University of York, and a BSc in Ecology from the University of Edinburgh. He is member of the Oversight Committee of the Tambopata National Reserve and has been an environmental consultant to World Wildlife Fund (WWF), Conservation International, Amazon Conservation Association, among others. He is also involved with Wilderness International, a group of organisations that protect forest wilderness areas around the world using carbon-based finance. Chris has been working in the Peruvian Amazon for 25 years and enjoys travelling, hiking, bird watching, and photography. Chris is British, is married, has two daughters and a cat, and divides his time between Cusco and Puerto Maldonado, Peru.
Bird, Bat & Herpetofauna
Team Coordinator, Field Site Manager
Chris has extensive biological research, wildlife handling, and environmental outreach experience having worked for many years in zoos, animal rescue centres, and volunteer-based research initiatives, mainly in Canada. He has worked for organisations such as the Ontario Specialized Species Centre, Bird Studies Canada, Toronto Region Conservation Authority, and Ontario Bioblitz. He is specialized in herpetofauna, birds, bats, environmental education and volunteer management. He first came to Peru in 2017, when he was an intern on Fauna Forever’s bird research team. His biological knowledge and skills were duly spotted and he was asked to return to help lead herpetofauna and raptor research projects in 2018. Chris is Canadian, and when he is not in the field he enjoy watching sports, sci-fi and fantasy.
Paddy is a keen ecologist from the UK where he has experience in the field of ecology and conservation, along with a BSc in Zoology from Swansea University. Paddy first visited Fauna Forever in 2019, completing both the mammal and bird field courses, during which he even offered to step in and assist teaching a school group during the last week of his stay. His willingness to muck in, combined with his ecological knowledge and research skills, didn’t go unnoticed, and he was asked to join the team at the beginning of 2020. Paddy loves his sport, especially football, but is also highly trained in Taekwondo, a Korean martial art, currently graded as a 3rd Dan Black Belt.
Juan Carlos is a specialist in community development, ecotourism, and cultural photography. His passion is helping to conserve wild nature, understanding and promoting the living cultures of indigenous Amazonian and Andean peoples, and for telling compelling stories through his imagery and filmmaking. He has a BA in Ecotourism Studies from the National Amazonian University of Madre de Dios (UNAMAD), has worked extensively with non-profit organisations throughout Peru, with ecotourism companies as a tour guide and photographer, and government departments as a media consultant, field assistant, and as part of project management teams. His images of Peru's nature and peoples have been exhibited in Puerto Maldonado, Cusco, and Lima. Juan Carlos enjoys playing football (soccer), hiking, playing the guitar, and travelling. He is Peruvian and lives in Puerto Maldonado.
Ian Conrad Markham
Nature Photography Coordinator
Ian is an ecologist, conservationist, world-traveler and story-teller, all rolled into one. He has a Master’s degree from Duke University, a Bachelors from Stanford University, and extensive research, photography and videography experience in tropical rainforests, reefs, and African savannahs. He has worked as a photography instructor on National Geographic ships in the Pacific Ocean, a tour guide at ecolodges in the Peruvian Amazon, research assistant on numerous projects around the world, and now roams the planet looking for scientists and conservation practitioners to partner with, in order to tell important nature- and people-focused stories of resilience and recovery with the aim of inspiring others to join the cause of conservation and sustainability. Ian is a Co-founder of Wild Hope Collective and he lives in California, Fiji, and Peru. www.wildhopecollective.com
"Pipi" Victor Chavez Montes
Boat Driver and Camp Mechanic
Although Victor is his given name, nearly everyone uses his nickname Pipi. He is known across the Tambopata region for his amazing boat driving skills and hard work ethic. Having worked for a number of eco-tour lodges and the local government, everyone on our team is happy when we are in a boat captained by Don Pipi, knowing we are in safe and experienced hands.
Zolansh, whom we all call Nasgo, is a superb fixer, problem solver, and all-round paper chaser with a professional and acute attention to detail, making her a perfect match for managing the day-to-day logistics in Puerto Maldonado, the local procurement of equipment and supplies that field teams require, ensuring equipment gets maintained, and ensuring local service providers in Puerto Maldonado are on the ball. She is a qualified tourism administration professional and has worked in the local ecotourism sector in Madre de Dios, so understands the issues of getting people and supplies from Puerto Maldonado up and down Amazonian rivers and backroads to distant field locations efficiently and safely. Nasgo is Peruvian, single, and lives in Puerto Maldonado, Peru.
Marilyn Solis Chalco
Marilyn holds a BA in Ecotourism Studies from the National Amazonian University of Madre de Dios (UNAMAD). She has extensive field experience in rainforest wildlife and ecotourism research in the Peruvian Amazon. She is very passionate about nature exploration and wildlife conservation, with a current emphasis on mammals and ecotourism. She has worked for other non-profit organisations in the Madre de Dios region setting up and executing large-scale camera trapping campaigns to assess the status of mammals in forests managed for ecotourist activities. Prior to becoming the Mammal Research Coordinator, Marilyn assisted as a student intern on Fauna Forever's bird research project. Marilyn is Peruvian and enjoys listening to music, reading books, and eating typical Peruvian and Chinese cuisine.
Augusto is an Entomologist with a BSc from La Agraria University and an MSc from Vageningen University. He began studying butterfly life cycles, hostplants, and butterfly management in the Peruvian Amazon in the 1990s. After several years of basic research in and around Puerto Maldonado, he and his team managed to successfully breed over 30 different species of butterflies found in the Tambopata province. In 2001, he opened the first and only live butterfly exhibit in Peru. The Mariposario Tambopata Butterfly Farm, as it is called, is located in Puerto Maldonado, and run jointly with his wife Valeria Luna. The farm is visited daily by groups of school children, ecotourists, and local families, who come to learn about butterflies and experience close contact with them in the large flyway area at the farm. Augusto is Peruvian, is married, has three children, and lives in Puerto Maldonado.
Chiki Durand and
Field Logistics Coordinators
Chiki and Rita constitute our field logistics team and are responsible for managing our boats, outboard motors, as well as the infrastructure at numerous field research sites and camps. They are a married couple who have lived in the rainforests of Madre de Dios all their lives, and as a consequence, they know how to get things done. Chiki is also a renowned local fisherman, and Rita is blessed with "green fingers" which means anything she plants is guaranteed to thrive. They also own and manage the Secret Forest Lodge on the Tambopata River. Chiki and Rita are Peruvian, and have six children
Natalie is an Ecologist with a BSc in Ecology and Wildlife Conservation from Bournemouth University. She is specialised in tropical botany, wetland ecology, bioremediation, and ecotourism. Natalie is well travelled and has spent many years in the Middle East, mainly Iraq and Kuwait, with stays in African countries as well. She first came to Peru in 2014 as a student intern with Fauna Forever, when she studied the movement patterns of Giant otters (Pteronura brasiliensis) in an oxbow lake habitat in Tambopata. During the course of her studies she returned to Peru multiple times and researched rainforest wetland ecology for her BSc thesis. Natalie has been leading Fauna Forever’s botany and medicinal plant research projects since 2017. When she is not working with us she can be found working hard to establishing her own research station in Tambopata, from where she plans to expand her research and rainforest conservation efforts. Natalie is British, and enjoys reading, hiking, and listening to music and the jungle’s dawn chorus.
Juan Carlos Huayllapuma
Nature Photography & Communities Coordinator
Ecotourism Coordinator & Guide
Jorge assists us with all things related to ecotourism development projects, including the design of ecotourist routes for our community partners and private tourism company partners, ecotourism infrastructure and buildings, as well as furnishings and so forth. He is a trained tour guide, carpenter, and builder. Jorge Peruvian, single, and lives in Puerto Maldonado.
Raul Alvarez Rossi
Spanish Teacher and High School Groups Coordinator
Raul is an economist, entrepreneur and English teacher with a can-do spirit and a permanent smile on his face. He has been helping teach Spanish to Fauna Forever volunteers and interns, as well as assisting with visiting groups of high school students, since 2015. Raul is Peruvian, he enjoys cooking and bodybuilding, and he is married with three children.