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MADRE DE DIOS AND
THE ALTO PURUS

Alto Purus, a Reserved Zone and transitorily a State-Protected Nature Zone, is located in the provinces of Purus and Atalaya in the Ucayali Region and the province of Tahuamanu in the Madre de Dios Region. It has a surface area of 2,724,264 Has., a range of altitude from 200 to 650m above sea level, an average temperature of 24°C, and the rainy period is between October and March. Its origin has been traced back to the Quaternary period of evolution of life on Earth.

The environment of Alto Purus shows a harmonious relationship between people and nature throughout the territory, and it is a place of important natural and esthetic values, as well as of voluntarily self-isolated ethnic groups belonging to the linguistic "yora" and "yine" categories. Their ancestral territories are mainly at the heads of the rivers Alto Purus, Alto Yurua and Las Piedras. Up to the present they have maintained almost no contact with society. Among them are the peoples of the Amahuanca, Chitonahua, Maxonahua, Morunahua, Nahua and Mashco-Piro, and also the Pano and Arahuaca. Since it borders on Manu National Park, part of the Nahua and Mashco-Piro territory is protected by the Peruvian government. The reserved zone ensures the continuity and survival of the indigenous peoples of the Amazon in isolation. The INRENA/Peru is currently working on the definition of the borders of Alto Purus Reserved Zone.

A total of six million two hundred thousand hectares of natural and cultural heritage are safeguarded in Madre de Dios, Ucayali, Amazonas and Loreto with the creation of Alto Purus and Amarakaeri Reserved Zones, constituting an important biological corridor, unique in the world, as well as the extension of Santiago-Comaina Reserved Zone. Thus the number of protected natural areas in Peru has increased to 51 and the conservation of our biodiversity and the survival of the native tribes has been guaranteed.

The protection of Alto Purus, which covers 5,101,945 hectares and lies in Ucayali and Madre de Dios, involves the care of extensive forested areas especially rich in mahogany and cedar, on whose existence depends all the hydrological system of the zone and the life of the natives. But it also encourages the presence of illegal timber extraction activities, so there are permanent measures to prevent this criminal activity. In this context, Alto Purus Reserved Zone contributes to conserving biological diversity and broadening measures for the protection of the territory of ethnic groups in voluntary isolation.

The physical medium is a geo-morphological landscape of two dominant forms: the alluvial plain with flat to slightly inclined surfaces, very varied by the effects of the rivers and their meandering, and undulating hills with steeply sloping sides.

It has a great biological diversity of rare and vulnerable species in danger of extinction, as well as a variety of eco-systems and beautiful landscapes.

The fauna is varied with specimens representative of many genera and species. Among the most common carnivores we have: tigrillo (Leopardus pardalis), puma (Puma concolor), jaguar (Pantera onca), giant otter (Pteronura brasiliensis); among the ungulates are peccaries (Tayassu spp.), brocket deer (Mazama spp.) and tapirs (Tapirus terrestris); rodents such as paca (Agouti paca), agoutis (Dasyprocta spp.), capybara (Hydrochaeris hydrochaeris); primates such as the emperor tamarind (Saguinus imperator), black spider monkey (Ateles paniscus), red howler monkey (Alouata seniculus), capuchin monkey (Cebus spp.) and squirrel monkey (Saimiri sciureus).

The most noticeable birds are the macaws (Ara spp.), Amazon parrots (Amazona spp.), herons, Helmeted Curassow, Razor-billed Curassow (Crax mitu), vultures and many other species.

Among the reptiles are the motelo tortoise (Geochelonia denticulata) and sideneck turtle (Podocnemis spp.), cayman (Cayman crocodylus), black caiman (Melanosuchus niger), numerous species of snakes and lizards, and amphibians and fish as well as the invertebrates.

Within Alto Purus Reserved Zone there are the following Wildlife Zones:

  • Humid tropical forest, with average temperatures between 23.2 and 25.7ēCelsius and total annual rainfall between 1,916 and 3,420 mm. Here are found tree species such as big-leaf mahogany (Swietenia macrophylla), Spanish cedar (Cedrela odorata), lupuna (Chorisia integrifolia), banak (Virola spp.), balsamaria (Calophyllum brasiliensis).


  • Transitional humid tropical, forest with average temperatures between 22.5 and 24ēC and total annual rainfall between 2,300 and 2,600 mm.


  • Very humid tropical pre-mountain forest, with temperatures between 18.5 and 25.6ēC and total annual rainfall between 2,193 and 4,376 mm. The characteristic species found are mohenas of the Lauraceae family, genera Persea spp., Ocotea spp., Nectandra spp.; mainly congona (Brosimum sp.), mashonaste (Clarisia sp.), tornillo (Cedrelinga catenaeformis).


  • Humid tropical pre-mountain forest, where the temperature ranges between 17.2 and 24.9ēC, with total annual precipitation between 936 and 1,968 mm. Representative arboreal vegetation is tornillo, congona, cedar and other species.


  • Other species of vegetation are: Guadua spp., palms such as the stilt-palm (Iriartea spp., huasai (Euterpe precatoria), Shapaja (Sheelea cephalotes), Pijuayo (Bactris gasipaes), river-bank vegetation such as caņa brava (Gynerium sagittatum), pajaro bobo (Tessaria integrifolia) and trumpet tree (Cecropia spp.).

    With the creation of these protected areas it is possible to give refuge to a great variety of species of flora and fauna, and also defend the rights to free passage of ten indigenous peoples who prefer to keep themselves isolated or in incipient contact with "civilization", since they traditionally migrate from north to south between Alto Purus and Manu.

    A large part of Madre de Dios is currently the center of world attention and the most important non-governmental organizations are working there with aim of promoting world cooperation, after finishing the micro-zone and environmental impact studies that are under way in the area.

    You will be able to obtain the necessary information to be able to enter this impressive National Reserve by contacting phone 064-577991, at Puerto Esperanza in the Province of Purus / Ucayalli.


     
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