Guests are invited to join the caiman research crew in a night of caiman capturing. 

Caiman House Guyana by Gail Johnson, ShutterstockA stay in the bustling Caiman House, set in a remote Amerindian village, is a surreal experience © Gail Johnson, Shutterstock

Caiman House was built in 2005 in Yupukari by Americans Peter Taylor and Alice Layton, who came so Peter – a keeper and supervisor at the Bronx and St. Louis zoos for nearly 20 years – could conduct an ongoing field study on black caiman (Melanosuchus niger), the largest member of the alligator family and a species that is listed by CITES as Appendix I: endangered. Black caiman are severely depleted in nearly all their former range, but are found in abundance in the waters of the Rupununi River.

The ongoing field study, which is now entirely run by community members, is an attempt to gain an understanding of the black caiman’s ecological role, as well as its context within local communities. By basing the study in a local village, and using local residents to run it, it will hopefully instil a better understanding of the caiman’s importance in the local ecosystem. The study itself, and the healthy population of caiman it is finding, has generated a sustainable ecotourism business for the community.

The black caiman research is what will draw most visitors to the region. Guests are invited to join the caiman research crew in a night of caiman capturing. It’s a bit like having a job with a National Geographic crew. There are also other important projects such as a turtle-rearing programme and a jaguar camera-trapping survey that attract both researchers and visitors to the field station and provide important data about these species.

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