Archived News - Nirah
While the nation watches "celebrities" play in the jungle a team of five real life adventurers from Leighton and Eaton Bray are braving the hazards of the Amazon for real.
The group, who are all passionate conservationists, set out on Friday to explore the world's longest river on a trip that will taken them from Manaus to Barcelos - the capital of the Brazillian Amazon - via the Rio Negro.
Conservationists Matt Arnold and his partner Sarah-Jane Burman from Eaton Bray, together with brothers Daniel and Stuart Clover, and Mark Lowen, all of Leighton, are keen supporters of the controversial Nirah project which hopes to see the world's largest purpose-built aquatic research centre built in Bedfordshire.
Their 20-metre, flat-bottomed Amazon river boat will take the team on a journey of discovery where they may come across jaguars, pink river dolphons, giant otters, howler and squirrel monkets and iguanas. They also hope to see some of the 3,000 species of fish found in the Amazon.
During the hottest part of the day the team will chug slowly up river and during the early morning/late evening will take motorized canoes into the smaller tributaries and explore the jungle.
The team, ages 22 and 32 years, all have a fascination for wild life and conservation of natural habitats.
Matt shares his home with a scary menagerie that includes 20 snakes of various species, poison dart frogs, tree frogs, chamelions, geckos, tarantulas, scorpions, sugar gliders, skinks and anoles. He explained: "I have been aware of the natural world and conservation since childhood and so was shocked when, as a young boy, I was confronted with the idea that the world's wild places were being destroyed and at such an alarming rate".
Talking about the Nirah project, Matt, who along with Sarah works in the space industry, said: "I support Nirah as it offers a new dimension to conservation. It is not just a living exhibit but a way of studying animals and plants.
"The potential size of the exhibits will allow us to see into the way that these animals interact in their natural environment while still allowing the public to enjoy it and take away from it an insight into what we stand to lose if conservation isn't given the chance it deserves."
The team will be recording their Amazon adventure with film, photographs and a diary.
Source: Anne Cox, Leighton Buzzard Observer, 21 November 2006