To celebrate the International Day for Biological Diversity, I share with you my favorite animal photos from Guatemala and Peru. As a biologist, wildlife photography has become my right arm, as photos can complement science and conservation. An image can help visualize what is being done in research, make known species that are not highly valued and record new species and new behaviors, for example.
Five years ago I picked up a camera and started photographing the biodiversity I was observing over time. My real passion for photography started when I was studying biology at the Universidad del Valle de Guatemala. I was constantly traveling in the field when I decided to devote myself to photography because of all the animals I observed.
My main interest has always been reptiles and amphibians, probably animals stigmatized by many, but gradually I started photographing other wildlife such as birds and mammals. Here are some of my favorite photos with a brief description.
The Resplendent Quetzal (Pharomachrus mocinno), a bird found primarily in Mexico, Guatemala, Honduras and Costa Rica, is, in my opinion, one of the most incredible birds in the world. For this photo, I spent several days waiting and observing the behavior of quetzals in their nest. After waiting over six hours in the forest of Atitlán Volcano, Sololá, Guatemala, I saw the male carrying food for his chicks and captured the moment.
A rainy afternoon on the Tambopata River in the Tambopata National Reserve, Peru. We were looking for big cats on the river, mainly jaguars and pumas. Unfortunately, we did not see them, but we managed to observe one of the species eaten by the jaguar… the capybara (Hydrochoerus hydrochaeris). A family of capybaras on the river; between the raindrops, we saw this mother with her little one.
This photo shows the Guatemalan Black-eyed Frog (Agalychnis moreletii) mating. During the night, we were able to observe the behavior of several male and female individuals near a body of water. This pond was a small man-made basin, in which species like this take advantage of water sources to mate and lay their eggs. The species is found in Belize, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, and Mexico.
It may be a common species, but when I first observed it, it was a very pleasant feeling. There are several species of glass frogs in the family Centrolenidae, but Hyalinobatrachium viridissimum is the only species from Guatemala. It’s impressive to be able to see his organs in such detail.
One of my favorite shots of all, where I was able to capture three species of clay-eating macaws at the Collpa de Chunco in the Tambopata Reserve, Peru. The first day of observation, the rain did not allow me to see a single bird on the wall, but the next day it was a spectacle of more than 30 to 40 individuals flying, feeding in the trees. In the photo you can see the species Ara macao (scarlet macaw), Ara ararauna (blue and yellow macaw) and Ara chloropterus (red and green macaw).
One of the most beautiful snakes in Guatemala is the amazing Guatemalan palm viper (Bothriechis bicolor). It was one of the first snakes I managed to photograph and for that reason it became one of my favorite photos.
One of the most unexpected and difficult encounters I have ever had. It all started with a hike up the mountain at 10am to observe other species. After carrying the equipment all day and having been able to observe almost nothing, a meeting around 10:00 p.m. brightened our night. The eyelash viper (Bothriechis schlegelii) is probably common in countries like Costa Rica, but in Guatemala it is only found in a few places on the Caribbean side.
Finally, one of the most incredible animals I have seen. Ranitomeya fantastica is endemic to the San Martin and Loreto region of Peru, which means it is only found in this region. Being species with a very specific habitat, habitat loss and human activity have put them at risk. Here we can see a male with his tadpoles on his back, which is a behavior of these species.
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