The Ecuadorian Amazon Rainforest
Yasuni National Park
How many conditions –climatic, geological, environmental, evolutionary –must coincide in order to make a single park become the most biodiverse corner of our planet? Scientists still don’t know how to answer this question… they are mostly trying to assess the overwhelming complexities of species variation within the fabulous Yasuní National Park.
Founded in 1979, the park is considered to be located in what biologists refer to as “Core Amazonia”, a territory with high levels of rainfall featuring year-round warm weather and a good number of the major tributaries that power the Amazon River. These headwaters include the Napo, the Cononaco, the Nashiño, the Tiputini and the Curaray —among others—found within an area of about 980,000 hectares (2,450,000 acres).
Recent studies have proven the Yasuní to have uncanny locally high numbers of species diversity, and in terms of birds, mammals, amphibians and trees, there is little to no competition… in the entire planet! The eleven species of monkeys, 6 species of jungle cats, and a record-breaking 117 bats, couple with the almost 600 birds species enough to baffle the mind. But even taking into consideration other animal groups like reptiles and fish, Yasuní is still one of the highest diversity centers as well. What’s even more important, is that Yasuní is crucial because of the endangered and endemic species that live within the park’s borders. For this reason, we deem every effort to protect the park from external exploitation is important, and showing it to visitors holds precisely that weight.
This small reserve with an area of only 4613 hectares (11398 acres) of humid tropical forest is found to the north of the Yasuni National Park, in a regulated protected nature zone dominated by a central Lemon Lake (as it’s name suggests) because of its unique green color. In fact, Limoncocha is the only green lake in the Ecuadorian Amazon Basin. In the 1980s, Limoncocha was considered as one of the best places to watch birds in all of South America! In 1972 Pearson reported a total 464 bird species. This spectacular number, together with the existence of the special lake, encouraged the Ecuadorian environmental protection ministry to create the reserve in 1985. The lake itself, created by rivers, was suddenly isolated them since some 800 years. The Limoncocha Biological Reserve totals 3 caiman species, 30 fish species, and more than 20 mammal species…
The protected rainforests at Pañacocha, or Piranha Lake, was established in 1994 and consists of close to 56,000 hectares (140,000 acres) of primary forest that includes a network of water pathways and lakes such as Pañacocha and Pihuali. The Protected Rainforest is home to 9 species of primates, some 500 species of birds and more than 100 fish species. Pañacocha is located between the Yasuni National Park and the Cuyabeno Wildlife Reserve, and provides an important corridor of wildlife between these two large crucial protected areas.