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Aid conservation by helping to assess the impact of human behaviour on the jaguar population, and collecting data on forest regeneration in the habitat of the woolly monkey in Manu Biosphere Reserve.

Laura Allen

Conservation scope

The research aims to assess the the survival of the woolly monkey in the regenerating forest ecosystem of Manu National Park after a strong period of logging and deforestation, and the impact of human behaviour on the jaguar population.

Conservation role: Field learner

  • Lectures and workshops
  • Field observation and light general research tasks

Physical demand: Moderate

  • Standard facilities
  • Slightly remotely based
  • Small involvement in the field
  • Suitable for everyone

How you can help

Jaguar Conservation issues

Studies have illustrated jaguar populations to be in decline due to extensive deforestation in Latin America resulting in habitat fragmentation, which in turn isolates individual populations, decreases their range, depletes their prey in the wild, and increases human persecution. The IUCN Red List notes that if these worrying trends continue, the jaguar’s status will be upgraded from Near Threatened to Vulnerable.

By establishing a formal monitoring programme of the jaguar and its prey species, it is possible to assess the importance of regenerating tropical forest for jaguar conservation in the Manu area, identify factors that allow jaguars to recolonize when using regenerating forest, and assess the impacts of human behaviour on jaguar populations.

Woolly Monkey Conservation issues

Woolly monkeys are the least-known primate in the wild. They are listed as Endangered by IUCN and, – as large primates – are important seed dispersal agents for many large-seed species throughout their extensive range. Areas of Manu National Park, particularly the cultural zone, were logged as recently as 30 years ago, before being fully protected. This presents an ideal situation for conducting a study within a forest in the later stages of regeneration.

Your daily routine in the field

  • Assist with checking camera traps to ensure maintenance and monitor jaguar images captured.
  • Assist in the creation and surveying of bi-weekly transects along the 10 kilometres of existing trails to monitor abundance and locations of jaguar and prey tracks at different times of year.
  • Assist with calculations of species abundance and data recording .
  • Enter data collected into detailed spreadsheets, and download and record camera trap images.
  • Depending on time of year, set camera traps in new locations to provide more input, and eliminate problems of ‘camera-shyness’, where individuals avoid areas due to fear of camera flash.
  • You will help with data collection from ongoing conservation research on the ground which involves following a group of woolly monkeys and collecting systematic feeding data.

How will you make a difference?

  • By providing information for both Manu National Park and the conservation organisation’s sustainable tourism and management strategy, and their environmental impact assessment.
  • By contributing towards the research consortium’s aim of a comprehensive biodiversity assessment – specifically on the biodiversity of regenerating tropical forest in Manu National Park. 
  • By contributing towards the research consortium’s aim of a comprehensive biodiversity assessment – specifically on the biodiversity of regenerating tropical forest in Manu National Park.

Woolly Monkey conservation

  • By helping to generate a detailed list of plant and tree species utilised by woolly monkeys in both primary and regenerating areas.
  • By helping to produce a detailed map of which species are utilised by woolly monkey at various times of the year in both primary and regenerating areas.
  • By helping to create a better understanding among young local people of the importance of managing forests sustainably, and how they can restore areas to provide a suitable habitat for keystone species like the woolly monkey.
  • By helping to develop a set of management guidelines and recommendations for the restoration of habitat for the endangered woolly monkey throughout the cultural zone of the Manu National Park, this plan will be produced with the organisation and presented to the national park to assist in future management decisions regarding buffer areas.
  • The information you gather could help to conserve woolly monkeys that have lost their habitat in areas intensively affected by anthropogenic pressures, using favourite, easy-grow food plants and keystone plant resources.
  • The data could be utilised to predict the optimum and future survival of populations in recently deforested areas.

Key info

  • When to go: Jun-Oct
  • Departures: Please contact us for departure date details.
  • Accommodation: Eco-lodge
  • Activities available:
    • Boat trip
    • Culture
    • Nature drive
    • Photography
    • Walking

Expert leader

Laura Allen

Photo of Laura Allen

Laura grew up in a family that was always keen to move to new countries and explore different parts of the world. Unsurprisingly, this rubbed off on her, and she takes great delight in travelling and learning about other cultures.

She is also one of the few people that have been lucky enough to end up in the career they planned as a child; when she was about eight she decided that she wanted to be a conservation biologist and work in tropical rainforests, so is grateful that she has been able to do that. She is fascinated by the diversity and complexity of ecosystems, and finds it so exciting that we still know relatively little about tropical forests. 

She studied Zoology at the University of Glasgow then, after a few years away, returned to complete an MSc in quantitative methods in biodiversity and conservation. She first worked with crees Foundation as a field assistant in 2012 and is now very pleased to be returning, this time as a PhD student.

She will be conducting research into developing biodiversity indicators of the value and ecosystem health of regenerating rainforest, as well as helping to coordinate research plans, develop new project ideas and support visiting researchers.

Featured locations:

Manu National Park

The unique diversity of Manu’s wildlife is due to the range of ecological zones that extend from 300 to 4,000 metres above sea level. More than 1,000 species of birds, 200 species of mammals, many reptiles, and around 10% of the world’s plant species have been recorded within the park's boundaries.

  • Where: Madre de Dios
  • Ideal for viewing: woolly monkey, jaguar, blue-headed macaw, giant river otter, Andean cock-of-the-rock
  • Excellent for: Wildlife photography, Photography tours with Nick Garbutt, Just Conservation, Jaguar watching, Birdwatching


Standing at an elevation of 3,400 metres, the city of Cusco was awarded UNESCO World Heritage status in recognition of its unique historical remains. It is the cultural and architectural jewel of Peru and the perfect base from which to explore Machu Picchu and the Amazon jungle.

  • Where: Central and Southeast Region
  • Excellent for: Activity & adventure, Hiking, History & culture
Featured accommodation:

Casa San Blas

This 18th century colonial house was completely restored in 2003 in traditional Cusqueño style. The first boutique hotel in Peru, Casa San Blas offers a blend of comfort and fine design with its rustic furniture and décor that combines earthy tones and traditional hand-made weavings.

Cock of the Rock Lodge

Opened in 1997, this lodge is named after the Andean cock-of-the-rock (Rupicola peruviana), Peru’s conspicuously brilliant red-and-black national bird. Each morning and evening the males stage a colourful, noisy mating display at a nearby lek (display site) nearby, which you can watch from a hide.

Manu Learning Centre

This lodge was specifically designed to accommodate visitors who have come to explore the surrounding cloud forest, but at the same time functions as a high-level research station. It offers comfort, a strategic location, and bears the Rainforest Alliance stamp of approval.

Manu Wildlife Centre

This lodge is located in the remote wilderness of southeastern Peru, in what is possibly the single best wildlife destination in the Amazon region. Here, at the foot of the Andes, the density and diversity of animal and plant species reach a peak amidst spectacular rainforest and fantastic scenery

Romero Rainforest Lodge

This lodge is located on the banks of the Manu River surrounded by beautiful primary rainforest in Manu National Park. Romero offers Manu’s very first premium experience, with rooms with en suite bathrooms and hot showers, as well as spacious areas for dining and relaxing.