Amazon Conservation

AMAZON CONSERVATION  MEGANTONI RESERVE: Megantoni is a critical piece of the conservation puzzle in southeastern Peru. Seated on the eastern slopes of the Peruvian Andes, it fits snugly between two of the largest protected areas in Peru: Parque Nacional Manu (1.7 million hectares) and the conservation complex in Cordillera Vilcabamba (Reserva Comunal Machiguenga, Parque Nacional Otishi, Reserva Comunal Ashaninka: total area 709,347 hectares). With 216,005 hectares Megantoni may appear small compared to its neighbors, but in rugged terrain spanning 500-4,000 meters in elevation, along steep slopes marked by massive landslides, in waters flowing through deep river gorges, on jagged mountain ridges and in nearly impenetrable patches of native bamboo, the  Amazon Concervation wilds of Megantoni harbor an astonishing diversity of life. Conservative estimates place Megantoni Amazon Concervation ’s plant diversity between 3,000-4,500 species, indicating that its forests may Contain almost a quarter of the plant species in Peru. Many birds and mammals threatened elsewhere in Peru and South America find refuge here, and endemic species abound, around 20% of the frogs and fishes living in Amazon Concervation Megantoni do not occur anywhere else in the world.

According to the mythology of the traditional inhabitants of the region  the Machiguenga, Ashaninka, Nanti, and Yine Yami (Figure 12)  the abundant flora and fauna are protected by Tasorinshi Maeni, the spectacled bear (Tremarctos ornatus, Figure 11B). Indigenous peoples have lived in these forest valleys for millennia by cultivating root crops and hunting with bows and arrows, and their lives and fates are intimately linked to Megantoni’s wildlife and forests.

Amazon Concervation Megantoni offers the unique opportunity to link two biodiversity giants, securing protection not only to the diverse biological and cultural communities of Megantoni, but to a continuous expanse of more than 2.6 million hectares. Ill-planned colonization from the south, and gas exploration and deforestation in the north threaten the Megantoni corridor. This one-time chance to preserve intact one of the richest portions of the world depends on the fast action and long-term vision of Megantoni’s local inhabitants, its supporting organizations, and the Peruvian government

OVERVIEW OF RESULTS OF THE AMAZON CONSERVATION

Before setting foot in the forests of Zona Reservada Megantoni (ZRM) on the eastern slopes of the Andes, we knew that our rapid inventory would focus on some of the most diverse biological communities on the planet. The Andes shelter nearly 15% of the world’s plant diversity and almost 20% of the world’s terrestrial vertebrates (-3,200 species). These mountain ranges are known not only for their species richness but also for their unique and undescribed taxa: close to half of the Andean flora and fauna is considered endemic, i.e., occurring nowhere else on Earth.

Amazon Concervation Megantoni fits the Andean mold. During our rapid inventory of its forests in April-May 2004, we catalogued nearly 2,000 species: many endemic to the region, several threatened or vulnerable in other parts of their range, and 60-80 new to science. Herpetologists found 7 new species of frogs; ichthyologists discovered endemic fishes clinging to rocks in turbulent streams; entomologists uncovered at least 30 new species of dung beetles; and botanists catalogued 1,400 plant species, including more than 400 species of orchids and ferns, with some 25 species new to science. Animals threatened in other parts of South America— including spectacled bears, tapirs, and jaguars commonly roam the Amazon Concervation Megantoni landscape. Game birds, such as guans and tinamous, are remarkably abundant.

In the following sections we summarize the principal results of our rapid inventory within ZRM. We highlight the new species discovered in Megantoni and, for known species, the range extensions we documented during the inventory. Starting from the lowest site and moving uphill, we describe our findings at the three inventory sites, integrating information from all organisms sampled. Finally, we outline the region’s assets, and the threats to its biological and cultural riche in this Park Megantoni Amazon Concervation