A new assessment of all life on the planet, published this month in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States, has revealed that the world’s 7.6 billion people represent just 0.01% of all living things, but that since the beginning of our global civilization humanity has destroyed 83% of all wild mammals and half of plants. The new work is the first estimate of the biomass of every kind of living creature and it has concluded that plants represent 82% of all living matter, with most of that biomass existing in the form of wood. All other creatures, including insects, fungi, fish and animals, make up just 5% of the world’s total biomass (the total mass of all living matter).
The destruction of the natural world to make way for farming, logging and development has led to what some scientists consider the sixth mass extinction in the Earth’s four billion year history. Around half the world’s terrestrial and marine mammals have been lost in the last fifty years.
According to the WWF (World Wildlife Fund), “the world is dealing with an unprecedented spike in illegal wildlife trade”. The demand for wild animals enables the existence of a global network of illegal animal trafficking. In Peru, 19 species of primates are trafficked illegally and some 193 wild species are sold illegally every day. It is estimated that of every 10 animals taken from their natural habitat, 9 die before they reach the market. Worldwide, illegal wildlife trafficking occupies fifth place among humanity’s most lucrative criminal activities, accounting for a turnover of between US$7 and US$10 billion a year. At Tambopata Ecolodge, we support calls for increased law enforcement and stricter deterrents to reduce the demand for endangered species.
In March this year, jaguar activity in the forests around our Ecolodge increased markedly. During one particularly memorable evening, from the dock where we moor our boats, Ecolodge staff and guests watched as two jaguars crossed the river. Incredibly, those same jaguars were spotted by Ecolodge security staff later that evening, just fifteen meters from the bar area, in the surrounding forest. Also in March, among other jaguar sightings, in a further indication of the good health of this species in our zone, a female jaguar and her two cubs were observed just 2.5 kilometers (1.5 miles) upriver from the Ecolodge, on the banks of the Tambopata.
Close to 15% of the planet’s land surface and 7% of its territorial waters are now protected by national parks and other types of protected area. Clearly, we are well on the way to achieving global conservation targets for 2020 (the protection of 17% of the planet’s land and 10% of its oceans); however, across the world eight out of ten key biodiversity areas lack full protection. In addition to further expansion, an increase in the quality of protected natural areas is required throughout the world. With its own Private Conservation Area in the Peruvian Amazon basin, Tambopata Ecolodge is making its own contribution.
"We must break with the historical paradigm that sees the Amazon as an inexhaustible resource for states which do not take into account its inhabitants”. On Friday January 19th Pope Francis traveled to Puerto Maldonado, where he highlighted the support required in the struggle to protect and conserve natural resources and native communities. In his speech before the thousands of faithful gathered in Puerto Maldonado, capital of the Madre de Dios region, the pontiff said: "Defense of the land has no other purpose than to defend life." And in recognition of the situation faced by all the indigenous peoples of the Amazon, the Pope said: "The disappearance of a culture should be seen as equally or even more serious than the disappearance of an animal or plant species”.
In honor of Pope Francis’s visit to Peru this month, the Boca Pariamanu indigenous community, situated in the province of Tambopata, has agreed to name its 1800 hectares of tropical forest “Nihii Eupa Francisco” (the “Pope Francis Forest”).
The community’s decision has been communicated to Peru’s Ministry of the Environment. The community has stated that the new name was selected in recognition of the Pontiff’s concern for environmental conservation. The official document commemorating the name change will be presented to the Pope during his visit.
The tropical forests of the Boca Pariamanu indigenous community are home to a rich variety of natural resources including harpy eagle nests and jaguars, as well as Brazil nut, cedar and mahogany trees.
Peru’s National Service for State Protected Natural Areas (SERNANP) fully supports the landscape, flora and fauna observation services offered within Tambopata National Reserve. Through SERNANP, the Peruvian government recognizes that tourism is an activity compatible with nature conservation in the Amazon basin, and that sustainable businesses like Tambopata Ecolodge, which is officially designated as an “ecolodge” by the national government, promote conservation while at the same time generating social and economic development among local populations. As a company offering services within the National Reserve, under the corresponding official authorization, Tambopata Ecolodge is fully committed to the environmentally responsible pursuit of its activities, and to contributing to the conservation actions undertaken by SERNARP in this protected natural area.
In recent weeks a jaguar has been spotted by our guides and guests on the banks of the Tambopata River, in the vicinity of the Ecolodge, in a further indication of the good health of this species within the Reserve. You can see a video of a jaguar sighting, filmed by one of our guides, here. And you can read more about the Tambopata National Reserve’s jaguars here.
In recent weeks, the total number of macaws arriving at the Chuncho clay lick has increased. This spectacular sight is just a fascinating three-hour boat ride from our Ecolodge. Parrots and macaws from at least 10 species come together from throughout the surrounding forest to feed, creating a spectacle of color and sound. Biologists have found that some macaws fly over 100 kilometers to feed on the mineral deposits that neutralize the toxins in the nuts and fruits essential to their diet. (Read more about avian clay licks here).
Over the past year, the Brazil nut trees planted by the Ecolodge across a 1.5 hectare area of tropical forest have grown more than one meter. During the next rainy season, the Ecolodge is planning to plant more of these lone, majestic trees across an additional two hectares of tropical forest. Our initiative began as a response to the fact that these enormous trees tend to be felled by the wind when they reach a certain age. We recognize the importance of replacing this key species, so that the Brazil nut will remain plentiful in local forests, as an essential component in the diet of birds, several mammals and a number of insect species.
Last September 4th marked the seventeenth anniversary of the founding of Tambopata National Reserve, one of the world’s most important protected natural areas, where our Ecolodge operates. Tambopata National Reserve symbolizes the vision and hard work of many organizations like ours, which together strive to safeguard this protected area of more than 274,000 hectares. Our fight to conserve the natural world continues.
The MAAP (Monitoring of the Andean Amazon Project) has reported that illegal gold mining activities have been reduced within the borders of Tambopata National Reserve, thanks to interventions by SERNANP (National Service for Protected Natural Areas) and other Peruvian government institutions. According to senior SERNANP personnel, following the intense illegal mining activity recorded from March to August 2016, thanks to a concerted response on the part of the authorities 90% of the area invaded by illegal miners was recovered between September 2016 and July 2017. But, although such activity has been reduced significantly, the fight to completely eradicate illegal gold mining within Tambopata National Reserve continues.
The Brazilian government has announced the abolition of a vast natural reserve. The Renca reserve, which covers an area the size of Denmark, will no longer receive federal government protection. Under Brazil’s new business-friendly government, the country has introduced a number of measures to encourage landowners to exploit the forests of the Amazon.
After a dip in recent years in the exploitation of the Amazon, rates of deforestation are being accelerated once more, and now ecologists are concerned that the recent dip may have merely been a temporary blip, with the greatest current threat to the Amazon in Brazil and many other South American countries identified as corruption and the policies of a new generation of politicians keen to encourage industrial development.
With biodiversity and indigenous peoples under increasing threat, the continent’s existing protected natural areas, including Peru’s Tambopata National Reserve, are more important than ever. At Tambopata Ecolodge, we believe that only through ecotourism can tropical forests be conserved for the future.
According to Peruvian meteorologists, a brief period of colder weather is expected to affect the tropical forests of southeastern Peru from April 26th to 29th 2017. To find out more about this unusual phenomenon, read more »
The German photographer Stefano Paterna visited our Ecolodge recently to add to his South American wildlife portfolio, and later spoke enthusiastically about his time in Tambopata National Reserve. “After having visited now Manu National Park, Tambopata National Reserve and Pacaya-Samiria National Park, I can honestly say that I liked Tambopata National Reserve and especially Tambopata Ecolodge the most”, said the Cologne-based photographer following his stay at the Ecolodge.
Tambopata Ecolodge has won official recognition as a Private Conservation Area (ACP). The company obtained the certification from the Peruvian state for the protection of 1065 hectares of virgin tropical forest. The government resolution was published in the newspaper of record El Peruano on October 25th, and the certificate will be presented in a public ceremony.
Article 28 of the Political Constitution of Peru establishes the state’s obligation to promote the conservation of the nation’s biological diversity, and with this new resolution the future of the fauna and flora sheltered by the lands owned by Tambopata Ecolodge is assured.
According to Peruvian law, a Private Conservation Area enjoys the same rights as a State-Protected Natural Area: in exchange for strict compliance with conservation measures by the Ecolodge, the Peruvian state will guarantee the legal protection of its lands against any invasive action and/or the illicit exploitation of the flora and fauna those lands are home to.
Last week a jaguar was spotted by our groups over a two-day period, on the banks of the Tambopata River, just one kilometer from the Ecolodge. You can see a video of a jaguar sighting, filmed by one of our guides, here. And you can read more about the Tambopata National Reserve’s jaguars here.
During the month of October, our guides and groups enjoyed several anaconda sightings. On one particularly memorable occasion, four anacondas were spotted at Lake Sachavacayoc (see our itineraries) as unusually dry weather in the rainforest caused water levels to fall dramatically. You can read more about Tambopata National Reserve’s anacondas here.