Becki Cohn-Vargas, Co-Owner, Makengue Reserve

22 March 2016

In 2016, Washington College IWC), a small liberal arts college in Maryland, sponsored a 2-week biology course that took place at Makengue the first two weeks of January.

Professors, Jennie Carr and Robin Van Meter created an inquiry science curriculum where students worked with partners on projects. The professors helped them design their study and worked with them as they gathered data. One group researched caiman behavior at night in two parts of the Pocosolito river. They went out daily at 11 pm in the Makengue boat to observe the caiman. Also, turtle traps were used to safely gather data on turtles who inhabited the Pocosolito river. Over 20 turtles was marked and released and represented several different species.

The group joined with American University to gather information and expand the field guide. The students also enjoyed meeting Milu, the rescued spider monkey who now was actively joining all activities. The students had to figure out ways to outwit her since she was now in a terrible twos stage and got into everything. After hearing that the local children did not know about tapirs, one of the WC students also created a little children’s book about a tapir and invited children from near the reserve to listen to the story and each one received crayons and a coloring book.

Students spent a night at the top of the Mombacho Volcano where they observed an endemic salamander and participated in bird banding. They also donned helmets and went on a caving expedition into lava tubes at the Masaya Volcano. They saw thousands of bats and learned about the the cave habitat. They also did not realize how lucky they were because following month, the Masaya volcano was shut down due to volcanic activity.

The Makengue caving crew!

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