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The Project: South American Rainforest

Our South American Rainforest projects:
 · Jocotoco Reserve in Ecuador
 · Peruvian Amazon
 · Sabalillo Forest Reserve in Peru

[ Image, Rufous-capped Thornbill ]
photo by David Agro

[ Image, Jocotoco Antpitta ]
© Doub Wechsler/VIREO

[ Image, Masked Saltator ]
photo by David Agro
Jocotoco Reserve in Ecuador

Ecuador, a small country on the equator in South America, is home to one of the most biologically diverse flora and faunas in the world. Its wide range of habitats is home to nearly 1,600 species of birds. Nowhere else is there such incredible avian diversity--17% of the world's bird species--found in such a small country. EcologyFund is funding the purchase of threatened parcels by the Jocotoco Foundation (Fundacion Jocotoco) through donations to the Rainforest Trust. (Birdlife International also supports these reserves.)

The Jocotoco Antpitta (Grallaria ridgelyi) is a rare and poorly known species first discovered in November 1997. It was found in bamboo thickets in wet montane forest along the trail to Quebrada Honda on the Slopes of Cerro Tapichalaca on the eastern (Amazonian) slope of the Andes.

The discovery of the Antpitta led to the formation of Fundacion Jocotoco to protect the type locality and only known range of the newly discovered bird. EcologyFund monies are being used to extend the Tapichalaca Reserve so that it connects to Ecuador's famous Podocarpus National Park in order to provide a corridor for large animal movements. Through additional purchases, the reserve will be enlarged to 5,000 hectares (12,000 acres).

In addition to the Antpitta, this temperate-zone cloudforest reserve is also home to other vulnerable restricted range birds such as the Bearded Guan, Golden-plumed Parakeet, Rufous-capped Thornbill, and Masked Saltator. The reserve is also home to the Spectacled Bear and Woolly Mountain Tapir.

[ Image, Tapichalaca vista ]
© Nigel Simpson

For More Information:
- Fundacion Jocotoco
- Rainforest Trust - description of Jocotoco project
- Birdlife International
- Podocarpus National Park in Ecuador
- Earthtrends has maps of Birdlife International's Endemic Bird Areas of importance
- Audubon Magazine (September-October 1999)

For further information on the Jocotoco Antpitta see:
Krabbe, N., D.J. Agro, N.H. Rice, M. Jacome, L. Navarrette, and F. Sornoza M. 1999. A new species of Antpitta (Fomricariidae: Grallaria) from the southern Ecuadorian Andes. The Auk 116 (4): 882-890.

[ Image, Uakari ]

[ Image, Black Nun Bird ]

[ Image, trivittatus - frog ]
photos © RCF
Peruvian Amazon

EcologyFund is supporting the Rainforest Conservation Fund's effort to expand the Reserva Comunal Tamshiyacu-Tahuayo in the Peruvian Amazon. This is one of the largest communal reserves in South America, and one of the most biologically diverse in the world, supporting 14 species of primates, the most ever recorded.

The reserve is comprised of several types of lowland Amazonian forest: igap´┐Ż, varzea, and terra firme. This is one of the only areas in the Amazon Basin where these forest types can be found in close proximity, and no doubt is a major factor in the area's incredible biodiversity. Among the animals found here are pink river dolphin, manatee, jaguar, ocelot, margay, giant otter, and paiche (the world's largest freshwater fish), and an amazing variety of birds (over 700 species are known in Loreto), including harpy eagle.

The reserve is an exceptional storehouse of biodiversity, even as rainforests go, because it is part of what biologists identify as the Napo area of endemism (specific area of native flora and fauna). This area stretches north and west from the reserve, and is the most species rich in the world in a number of categories, including trees, amphibians, reptiles, and birds (see Gentry, 1988: Ridgely and Tudor, 1989). These factors along with the Pleistocene refugia and river dynamics probably all contribute to this exceptionally diverse assemblage of primates. As conservation efforts focus on biodiversity and species endemism, we must also consider the endemic nature of species assemblages. Exceptionally diverse areas are themselves an endemic occurrence (Solbrig, 1991).

In the last year, RCF and their Peruvian allies have been working to expand the reserve on its northeastern side, along the Yavar' Miri and Yavar' Rivers. The main reason for this is to protect an area of forest that is the home to large populations of threatened or endangered fauna including red uakari monkeys, giant river otters, manatees, tapir, primates, the huge air-breathing fish (Arapaima gigas), and giant river turtles (Podcnemis expansa).

[ Image, Map ]
The green area on this map shows the area of needed expansion

This forest is exceptionally undisturbed by humans, but must now be protected as we enter the 21st century because of the inevitable settlement and development forces that will emerge in these remote areas of Peru and Brazil. The local people (both native and mestizo), living in villages some 60 kilometers from the present border of reserve are in favor of this expansion, because it would help them to live in their traditional ways by protecting them from encroaching settlers.

The Peruvian Department of Conservation in the Region of Loreto is assisting the effort to expand the reserve. The plans would essentially double the size of the reserve (from 800,000 acres to 1.6 millon acres), while protecting some of the most remote and fauna-rich lands in the Amazon. RCF has been supporting the research and extension efforts which led to this new development, and is actively supporting the surveys, map-making, and legal work that will be needed to complete this effort. Your clicks on EcologyFund help to pay for this work, along with money to monitor the existing reserve and provide sustainable community development and limited health care facilities for the surrounding villages.

For More Information:
- The Rainforest Conservation Fund
- Species Data:
  · Mammals
  · Birds
  · Amphibians & Reptiles

[ Image, sab-apayacu river ]

[ Image, River View from above ]

[ Image, Trees ]
photos © Devon Graham and Project Amazonas
Sabalillo Forest Reserve in Peru

Sabalillo Forest Reserve is one of the newest reserves in the Amazon and is located in the department (state) of Loreto, Peru; downstream from Iquitos in the area known as Bajo Amazonas (lower Amazon). Because of the mix of soils and topographic features, this area is exceptionally biologically diverse, and includes areas of flooded forest, terra firme upland forest, and sandy ridges which are home to many extremely rare species. The pink Amazon River dolphin is commonly seen, and rarely seen mammals like giant anteaters, short eared bush dogs and mountain lions are occasionally sighted. There are hundreds of species of birds, fish and amphibians. It took nearly four years of fundraising and paperwork to get the reserve established, with the final paperwork being signed and stamped by the Peruvian Ministry of Agriculture March 29th, 2001. Follow this link for a brief History of the Sabalillo Forest Reserve.

Location and Size: The Sabalillo reserve is located on the upper Apayacu River (3'20.25" S latitude, 72'18.60 W longitude), some 35 km (following the river) from its junction with the Amazon River, and just upriver from the Yagua Indian community of Sabalillo. The reserve lands are separated from Yagua tribal lands by Sabalillo Creek. The station property is bordered on the east by Apayacu River, to the south by Sabalillo Creek, and to the north and west by unbroken primary forest that extends for many miles to the Napo River and it's tributaries. Throughout the zone, there has been minimal impact by slash-and-burn agriculture, logging, fishing and hunting - extensive areas of tall primary forest dominate the area. At present, the Sabalillo Forest Reserve is 1260 hectares in size (about 3,150 acres), but as funding becomes available (please keep clicking!), there are plans to increase the size to 10,000 ha (about 25,000 acres). The land is titled to Project Amazonas under a long-term lease from the Government of Peru (Ministry of Agriculture) for conservation, ecotourism, and environmental services purposes. For a preliminary map of the Sabalillo Forest Reserve, please visit the Project Amazonas Maps web page.

Habitats, Flora and Fauna: Reserve lands closest to the Rio Apayacu consist of seasonally flooded varzea forest, and include two ox-bow lakes ('cochas') which constitute important permanent aquatic habitats. Away from the river the land is dominated by low but steep hills covered with very tall primary rainforest with a high density of economically valuable timber species. Small clearwater creeks wtih sandy bottoms drain the area, and several swampy areas add further environmental heterogeneity. Ridgetops in the reserve share may characteristics with varillal habitat, a very restricted type of habitat that is found in several locations in the Peruvian Amazon. Varillal occurs on ancient sandy ridges between river systems, and is home to a number of relict bird and mammal species, all of which are endangered due to their dependence on this rare type of habitat. Large mammals are fairly common in the region, and recent sightings include mountain lions and giant anteaters. Tapirs and jaguars are known to occur in the immediate area, as evidenced by the presence of tracks. Birds are very diverse, but much more survey work is needed before a more-or-less complete list is compiled - at least one undescribed subspecies of bird (the Black-headed Antbird) is known to occur at Sabalillo, and it is probable that several more undescribed forms occur. The aquatic fauna is also very diverse, and blackwater creeks in the area (including Sabalillo Creek) are important resources for local people for the collection of neon tetras, hatchetfish, and other species for the ornamental fish trade. A joint fish sampling project being carried out by Shedd Aquarium (Chicago) and Project Amazonas, is documenting the fish species present in the area. Reptiles and amphibians are also being catalogued periodically by visiting herpetologists, with a number of rarely encountered species already noted, including the giant monkey frog (Phyllobates bicolor).

A Cooperative Reserve: The Sabalillo Forest Reserve is a cooperative effort between Project Amazonas and other entities. The Reserve will be protected, managed and used in a cooperative manner. Project Amazonas has established a memorandum of understanding with the John G. Shedd Aquarium of Chicago, providing for funding for a caretaker position at the Sabalillo reserve, as well as for participation by Project Amazonas in a multi-year study of the aquarium fish industry in the region. This Shedd-initiated study is looking at ornamental fish populations in various locations in the Peruvian Amazon, including at the Sabalillo Forest Reserve. The Sabalillo Yagua Indian Community is also participating in the management and operation of the Sabalillo reserve. By agreement with community members, the community has first opportunity for all employment opportunities at the reserve, including the position of caretaker, and temporary employment for construction, trail maintenance, guides, and field assistants. The community has also pledged to respect the no-hunting reserve zone, and to exclude commercial fishermen from the reserve waterways and lakes. In turn, Project Amazonas has pledged assistance to the Sabalillo School and will regularly include the community in medical expeditions organized or sponsored by Project Amazonas. EcologyFund monies are being used to pay for survey work, legal fees and lease payments to expand the Sabalillo and Madre Selva reserves. (Madre Selva is located on the Orosa River and is noted for its floating meadow habitats.)

For More Information:
- Project Amazonas
- Shedd Aquarium (see programs/Amazon Rising)
- Sabalillo Forest Reserve
- Habitat Descriptions
- Madre Selva Reserve
- Medical & Community Development Info.

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