Estancia Guaycolec, a privately-owned cattle ranch, is home to Proyecto Mirikiná (Owl Monkey Project). This 25,000 hectare ranch is located 25 km north of Formosa City. Along the banks of the Pilagá River (58◦11_ W, 25◦58_ S), the research group studies over 15 habituated owl monkey social groups in the semideciduous gallery forest.
The Formosa climate is subtropical and humid, with average annual rainfall near 1.3 meters. In the summer, daily temperatures are consistently above 36 oC and the mosquito is a researcher’s most common companion; winter nights hover near 5 oC.
I first visited the cattle ranch in May 1996 when it was owned by Pilagá S.A. The choice of the ranch was not fortuitous, I knew that two Argentinean Biologists, Sandra Arditi and Guillermo Placci, had done their doctoral research there studying owl monkeys and the structure of the forest.
In 2003, ownership of the ranch changed to Bellamar Estancias S.A.; the Owl Monkey Project is grateful to the on-site manager Mr. Federico Middleton and current company Director, Ing. Alfredo Casaretto, for their continued support of our presence in Guaycolec. In 2006 the company established the Mirikiná Reserve, an approximately 2,000 ha area that encompasses the gallery forests where our research takes place.
Since 1996, Proyecto Mirikiná has developed a home in the monkey’s corner of the ranch. In the early days, we camped in tents along side the Pilagá River, a 45 minute walk from the closest permanent structure at the ranch’s entrance.
Over the years, our site has expanded and we are proud of our “quincho” cabin, an eco-friendly hut, equipped with a fireplace, camping stove, hammock and wonderful reading collection. The chefs among the team have been enjoying the field a lot more (as have our appetites) with the new addition of our battery powered over; however, the closest shower and source of electricity remains at the ranch’s entrance.