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Jan 1st, 2010, 05:26 PM
  #1
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Jaguar Research Center and Tropical Nature

Hi

I have read that the camp at the Jaguar Research Center operated by Tropical Nature in the Northern Pantanal was dismantled, possibly in October 2009 and am wondering if this is indeed the case. It also seems that sometime in 2009 Tropical Nature ceased involvement in the Napo Wildlife Center - are Tropical Nature scaling down their South American accommodations?

Does anyone have any more information on these developments?

I am considering booking at Manu Wildlife Center and would like to deal with a company that in some way benefits local communities and one that can fulfil bookings made for the forthcoming season.


Thanks,


Pol
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Jan 1st, 2010, 07:39 PM
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How exciting, another trip for you Treepol!

See this Nat Geo Tourism Power of Place nomination for Douglas Trent and Focus Tours
http://geotourism.changemakers.com/en-us/node/22861

Focus Tours
http://www.focustours.com/

That's who I used for my Northern Pantanal and Minas Gerais trip. Excellent. Will use them again.
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Jan 2nd, 2010, 10:05 PM
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Hi Lynn,

good to see Focus being recognised for the work they do.

I tried numerous times to contact Focus tours but they failed to respond to multiple emails and even phone messages left on the answering machine asking them to reply to my emails. Reluctantly, I looked elsewhere and found many other highly recommended operators.

This years trip is still in the making but we aim to do BA, Iguazu, North and South Pantanal, Galapagos, Amazon and Macchu Pichu and the Sacred Valley.

Cheers,


Pol
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Jan 3rd, 2010, 07:47 PM
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I'd be interested in knowing who you ended up with. What a fantastic trip.
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Jan 4th, 2010, 02:42 AM
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Hi,
I've been in the northern Pantanal in Oct 09 and I heard a lot of bad stories about Jaguar Research Center and it's owner Charles Munn. (See Tropicalnature.info for his illegal behaviour in other SA countries and articles on www.oeco.com.br, just type Munn in the search field, if you need a translation I will be glad to do it).

In november 09 I was in Porto Jofre for a brief visit and official's of SEMA together with local police officers had just finished to dismantle the camp he had illegaly built on the river inside the park 'Parque Estadual Encontro das A'guas'. They confiscated everything and he will be processed by brazilian law. I think this is enough NOT to choose him, if he was clean as he claims to be...he wouldn't be facing a process. He will try to continue operating in the region because jaguar sighting IS a big business especially if you don't respect the law of the country you are operating in. He thinks Brazil is still a third-world country where money buys everything and people are just stupid natives there to serve his greedy needs. Well I hope brazilian law will proof this is really past.
I've been on a 5 days tour in northern Pantanal with Julinho from Pantanal Trackers (www.pantanaltrackers.com.br) in oct 09 and it was really outstanding, for the animals we saw (a couple of jaguars the day we arrived, only us and them for hours), the gorgeous nature, the people we met. And Julinho himself is just the greatest companion you could wish to have by your side, he has deep knowledge about the fauna and flora and local culture. A knowledge based on a life's experience there, on patient observation of the environment, he is a 'pantaneiro', not one of the many operators that smelled a good opportunity to make money on jaguar-sighting in the last 2 years.

Check my travel report if you want more info, and feel free to ask me any question!

http://pantanalnorte2009.blogspot.com/

Cla
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Jan 4th, 2010, 04:59 AM
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I read distressing stories online about the Jaguar Research Center and the unsavory past of Charles Munn. Among other accusations there were claims that he baited the jaguars. On the ground conversations seem to support what I read. That's why we wouldn't book last summer, even though he was almost guaranteeing jaguar sightings. Have a great trip Pol! I know you'll enjoy the Pantanal.
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Jan 11th, 2010, 11:49 AM
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Yes, the Brazilian Federal Police closed the Jaguar research Center after several warnings, as it was illegally built within a reserve. The owners are wanted by the police, but are either in hiding or have left the country. I suspect that Tropical Nature may have the same owners, but can not be sure of this.

I suggest the Jaguar River Lodge / Jaguar Field Station. In partnership with ICMBio, Brazil's National Parks Department, we are doing population and range research, and have to date documented 32 different jaguars. Your visit can help fund this research, which is being use to support a move going through the Brazilian congress to increase the size of the protected area. You can contact me directly at [email protected], or www.jaguarriverlodge.com.
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Jan 12th, 2010, 04:48 AM
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They are the same owners, this is public domain...
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Feb 1st, 2010, 04:29 PM
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Once again, this is Charles Munn, PhD, the owner of the Jaguar Research Center tented camp. It is true that the state park service (not the Federal Police, Doug!) illegally dismantled my tented camp in late November 2009. In doing so, they broke a number of federal laws in Brazil, and this is by no means the end of the story here. I did not break a single law, and even co-ordinated for years with that local park service (this is not a national park, just an UNPROTECTED, UNPATROLLED state park). The state park service told me for more than 2 years that my tents were fine on my own private land. Then, surprise, surprise, once they could see that the tents worked, a number of commercial competitors got irritated with me for offering such a good service in Jaguar monitoring (I have invested 10 or 20 times more in this Jaguar conservation ecotourism than anyone else). These jealous operators teamed up with a few park officials who were willing to try breaking the law to slow me down or stop me, at least for a while.

I will operate JRC in 2010, and it will be a success as always. The details of how this will happen are not clear yet, but I will operate.

As far as hearsay and third-hand gossip, including from traveling clients of my commercial competitors (travelers who never even bothered to check a single detail of the outrageous lies that they were told about me), I leave it to you to decide.

Anyone who has followed my conservation career, including establishing 6 million hectares (15 million acres) of new parks in the Amazon, two 25-page cover stories in National Geographic, Emmy-award-winning TV documentaries about the Manu National Park in Amazonian Peru, and the selection by TIME Magazine as one of the 100 young leaders for the new millennium (one of three environmentalists on this list of 100 for the globe) should realize that inevitably my competitors will be irritated by the success of my teams, as none of these accomplishments were done by me alone, but rather by the most talented Peruvians, Bolivians, and Brazilians working under my direction. It may be unfortunate, but it really is completely predictable and no surprise that competitors were happy for me to take huge risks alone (despite my requests to work together), but now are mad and don't know what to do. Now that I have shown how to guarantee Jaguar viewing in a completely responsible way (we do no baiting of any kind), it is to be expected that these competitors would suddenly leap forward to try to capitalize on all the success and promotion done by my teams about the Jaguar-rich Porto Jofre region. These competitors would like to sideline me now and try to create a vacuum at the top. I honestly wish to work with all of them, as we most definitely can protect more Pantanal and offer better experiences for travelers at every price level, but it would help if my competitors would get over it and would play by some kind of rules, including telling the truth about the hard work my teams have done and about the heavy investment and great risks I took in 2004-2009 to show that Jaguars COULD be worth more alive in the forest than dead or in a zoo.

I invite anyone who has doubts about our work to watch the seven-minute video about JRC done in Sept 2009 by professional photographer Todd Gustafson. He spent only 5 nights at JRC. His video is at

http://www.youtube.com/user/gustapho.../2/Hs2t9vfOWyQ

You also might find interesting a series of 7 video clips on YouTube of a large, male Jaguar (the cat we see the most often) killing a large caiman about 800 m from the JRC camp:

Here is the first of the 7 clips. The rest of the clips you easily can click on to follow this drama. Two of our small guest boats watched this drama at a distance of only 20 m!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a9N4j0BQTM8

If you believe that the Jaguars in those videos show any sign of being upset or bothered by our small, quiet observation boats, then you are badly confused and mistaken.

The lady blogger who says that I so terrible because her tour operator told her so, and then repeats all his outrageous claims, should consider actually talking to me about this, or does she have other reasons not to want to know and report the truth? Did her tour operator, who is a talented guy, happen to tell her that in 2007 and again in 2008 I offered him the directorship of JRC, but we could not reach agreement on salary terms, as he was asking for amounts that were about 50% more than the market level for that kind of post?

Come see our work at JRC in 2010 and draw your own conclusions. Or you can pay a bit less and search endlessly and totally randomly, one boat at a time, burning up even more gasoline than necessary, increasing your carbon footprint by the minute. In a random search, you DO have a 40-50% chance per day of seeing a Jaguar--still a very high probability, but it is far from the 91% probability and many more minutes per day of quality Jaguar watching that is typical of our operation, which is modeled simply on the best practices from East and southern Africa.

The African wildlife photo safari industry would appear to be somewhere between 40 and 60 years ahead of wildlife tourism in Brazil, and I would suggest that all Brazilian tour operators do as I have done and study at the school of the masters--Ecotourism in 8 African countries. THEY REALLY KNOW WHAT THEY ARE DOING. Entire national economies in parts of Africa revolve around the highly-sophisticated wildlife tourism they have honed to perfection.

Sincerely,

Charles Munn, PhD
[email protected]
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Feb 1st, 2010, 04:36 PM
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oh, I forgot to mention, Doug (Doug Trent of Focus Tours, whom I have known and respected for 23 years). I am not wanted by the police, I am not in hiding, and I am a permanent Brazilian resident living lawfully and happily in the Pantanal. And you know how to reach me to talk about any questions you may have before you write such nonsense! Wow, I would never have expected that kind of behavior from you, as you are such an outstanding and experienced nature guide and true conservationist. Sounds like it is time to talk, my friend. You know where to find me.

All the best,

Charles Munn, PhD
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Feb 1st, 2010, 04:46 PM
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Oh, someone asked about Manu Wildlife Center. It is operating better than ever. You will love it.

As far as Napo Wildlife Center, it also is operating and doing a great job. It is now 100% owned by the local Indian community, so it is true that Tropical Nature, the NGO, is no longer directly associated with it. There came a point a few years ago when the best way forward during a management dispute was to let the Indians run it all themselves. Tropical Nature did not dispute their request to take over management, and TN has now learned more about the complexities of doing such community-based projects.

Of course, it is clear that Tropical Nature conceived of, financed, and built Napo Wildlife Center, along with generous donated labor from the community. The project is a total success in terms of the tourism services and the protection of the Yasuní National Park. The question of how to design a conservation ecotourism project in conjunction with indigenous communities is interesting and complicated. We are simply delighted that even after deciding to leave the Tropical Nature orbit, the Napo Wildlife Center has remained the total ecotourism and conservation success that we originally envisioned.

Anyone who would like to know more about Manu Wildlife Center in Peru or Napo Wildlife Center in Ecuador should feel free to contact me.

Sincerely,

Charles Munn, PhD
[email protected]
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Feb 1st, 2010, 04:49 PM
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oh, I forgot to mention, Doug (Doug Trent of Focus Tours, whom I have known and respected for 23 years). I am not wanted by the police, I am not in hiding, and I am a permanent Brazilian resident living lawfully and happily in the Pantanal. And you know how to reach me to talk about any questions you may have before you write such nonsense! Wow, I would never have expected that kind of behavior from you, as you are such an outstanding and experienced nature guide and true conservationist. Sounds like it is time to talk, my friend. You know where to find me.

All the best,

Charles Munn, PhD
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Feb 1st, 2010, 04:57 PM
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Manu Wildife Center is better than ever. Contact them at www.manu-wildlife-center.com or at www.inkanatura.com in Peru.

All the best,

Charles Munn, PhD
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Feb 1st, 2010, 05:34 PM
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Methinks the gentleman protests too much. Just google his name.
Marija, Ph.D.
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Feb 1st, 2010, 06:03 PM
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Start with
http://www.tropicalnature.info/
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Feb 2nd, 2010, 03:46 AM
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This attack blog that you mention was written by a disgruntled, former Tropical Nature employee who had to resign because he mismanaged an important project. The project survived, but just barely, and not because of his work, which was grossly incompetent. Apparently he is not interested in having another job in conservation again, as he is making up stories and hiding the truth about his own mismanagement, thus making himself radioactive for any other potential employer. We stand by the facts, which certainly are not worth getting into here, as they don't relate to Brazil or to the Jaguar Research Center in the slightest and would clog this blog with a level of minutia that would be very tedious and boring for almost everyone. If you find the minutia of that particular case of genuine interest and have a professional reason to want to get into it, we are happy to talk with you about the facts. Just contact me directly at [email protected], and we can review the case.
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Feb 3rd, 2010, 09:20 AM
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Hi Charlie, Sorry! I was only going on stories form the Pantaneiros we both know, and I was too quick to accept their side of the story. I did not know how to contact, but glad we are now again in touch. I greatly respect you and your work in conservation over the decades you have been involved.

Cheers, Douglas Trent
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Feb 3rd, 2010, 09:21 AM
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And, my email is [email protected]

Cheers, Douglas
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Feb 4th, 2010, 07:43 AM
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Hi Charles, I’m the ‘lady blogger’ you mention earlier. I really appreciate that you decided to enter the discussion on this and other forums.
In fact I DID quite some research after hearing the stories of local people about your Pantanal enterprise and your involvment in other SA countries before writing on public forums and of course I’m eager to hear your version.

I hope you are willing to answer a few more questions. You said that all the details would be boring to be explained in the forum, well, I don’t think so, and I see that quite some travelers are following this threads with interest.

I’m not a biologist, or a professional conservationist, I’m sorry, but I like to travel responsibly and when possible support honest local people and their enterprises. Traveler’s forum’s are useful to travelers exactly in this way, exchanging resources and informations that reach far beyond on which hotel is the cheapest in some corner of the world.

I wouldn’t dare questioning your curriculum as a researcher, but we’re not talking about research in relation to JRC., are we? You have moved from research to entrepreneurship quite a while ago, nothing bad about that, I understand that you try to do conservation work through eco-tourism now.

You say that SEMA confiscated ILLEGALLY your camp. That’s a heavy accuse to a public brazilian organ. Which laws did they break?
On the website of Ministerio Publico de Mato Grosso (public prosecutor of the state of mato Grosso) was written that you are accused of commiting crime against Environmental Laws.

You claim to have worked in accordance with SEMA for years, how do you explain that you were supposed to officially present a project for your touristic enterprise in 2007 and until 2009 this was still missing and you went on operating without it?

In february 2009 SEMA intimated you to suspend your activities but you didn’t respect the embargo. Your camp has been actively receiving tourists through all 2009, until its confiscation in november.

As to Napo Wildlife Center, why do they underline on their official homepage that they have nothing to do with Tropical Nature? (“The Napo Wildlife Center is not affiliated with and does not support the work of TROPICAL NATURE in Ecuador !”) and the link brings you to the site tropicalnature.info that you claim was written by a disgruntled ex-employee of TN?

I tried to contact Napo Wildlife Center to ask for an explanation, but they don’t seem willing to talk. Why do they accuse you on their public website and then are afraid to talk?

I believe you when you say that there must be a lot of local entrepreneurs jealous of your success, but I think it’s a bit superficial as the only explanation.
You have built a good marketing network and I think they may all profit from this. There are a lot of talented professionals working out there and there is a wide range of services offered, which not necessarily overlap.

I’m sorry if I wrote anything that will be established false, just keep us updated on the follow up of the public accuse you received in Mato Grosso. Maybe we are all wrong and you are a victim of southamerican corruption, again?
Thank you for dedicating some time to all this and for helping us to see clearer in the matter
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Feb 6th, 2010, 11:32 AM
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A few articles about Dr Munn and his operations, including his unlawful building of tourist facilities in a national park and accusations of illegal animal trafficking>

http://www.mp.mt.gov.br/conteudo.php...ows_Pagina=727

http://www.anda.jor.br/?p=31056

http://www.diariodecuiaba.com.br/detalhe.php?cod=359667
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