MANU BLANQUILLO MACAW CLAY LICK – MANU NATIONAL PARK
VEGETATION :With a park the size of Manu, with a wide range of altitude, vegetation varies widely, however the most widespread vegetation types found are tropical lowland rainforest, tropical montane rainforest and Puna vegetation (grasslands). The lowland forests occur on the alluvial plains and the interfluvial hills. Those on the hills may experience seasonal water supply, given the monthly variation in rainfall, while the forests on the alluvial plains are likely to be seasonally flooded. The montane forests experience less variation in the water supply and are exposed to lower temperatures. The management plan (La Molina, 1986) maps 14 forest types using the Holdridge system (after Tosi, 1960), although, given the lack of rainfall data, this must be to some extent speculative. Despite the high diversity of plant species in this region, the flora of Manu is still poorly known and floristic inventories must be considered as preliminary (Gentry, 1985). The few collections of plants are those of Foster (1985) and Gentry (1985) made in the alluvial plains near the Biological Station, and in the Tres Cruces region of the uplands. Other collections have been made by Terborgh (1985) and Janson (1985) on trees where birds and primates obtain food. Despite this, in the last ten years, 1147 plant species have been identified in the park within quite a small area (500ha), and it is likely that the number of species to be found within the park is well over this figure. More recent
data (Saavedra, 1989) indicate 1,200 lowland vascular species and a single one hectare plot near the Cocha Cashu research station supported more than 200 tree species. In a hectare plot on the alluvial plains, 17 trees with a diameter of more than 70cm were found (4 to 11 trees with such a diameter would be more usual). The biggest tree was a Ceiba pentandra (120cm), while others included the locally rare Poulsenia armata (110cm) and Calycophyllum sp. (117cm), and locally endangered Swietenia macrophylla (105cm) and Dipteryx odorata (100cm). The most common tree in the plot was Otoba parviflora (IK), and other highly abundant species included palms of the genera Astrocaryum, Iriartea and Scheelea, two species of Quararibea (Bombacaceae), Guarea and Trichilia (both Meliaceae from the subcanopy), one Pouteria (Sapotaceae), Pseudolmedia laevis (Moraceae) and Theobroma cacao (Sterculiaceae). Another striking feature of these forests is the high abundance of Ficus spp., of which there are at least 18 species – only 15 Ficus species are mentioned in the Flora of Peru (Standley, 1937). Lianas are common, and 79 lianas of 43 species were found within 1,000 sq.m. With the current knowledge of the flora of the park it is not possible to give a detailed account of threatened, endemic or potentially economically important species. Swietenia macrophylla and Cedrela odorata which grow in almost pure stands, are two of the species economically important for their wood, while Theobroma cacao and Quararibea cordata (IK) are both cultivated for their fruits outside the park.
TOP TOURS TO MANU BLANQUILLO MACAW CLAY LICK – MANU NATIONAL PARK
Birding in Manu:
Just how good a birdwatching site is the Manú region? According to the British birding expert Dominic Couzens, it’s one of the best in the world. Couzens, a highly-praised author and regular contributor to the BBC in London, includes Manú in his book The Top 100 Birding Sites of the World, ranking it alongside such places as the Florida Everglades, the sub-Antarctic islands of South Georgia, the Rift Valley in Kenya and the Serengeti in Tanzania.
The reason why – the sheer number of species that make their home in this remote but still accessible part of the Peruvian Amazon. It’s an area of amazing biodiversity. The national park is teeming with parakeets, parrots, macaws, and toucans, egrets, hummingbirds and eagles, including the harpy eagle. Waiting for you are quails, grebes, cormorants, storks and vultures, including the king vulture.
There are ospreys, hawks and falcons, cuckoos, owls and woodpeckers… the list goes on and on. Suffice to say there is enough here to keep the most dedicated birdwatcher enthralled for a lifetime. Unfortunately, most visitors to Manú have only a few short days or weeks to appreciate what’s on offer. And what makes this region extra special is that birdwatching is so easy here.
The area is relatively easily reached, but it is still a remote and wonderful wilderness. And because humans have had so little impact on the surroundings, the birds are confident, less shy than they might be in other parts of the world, and that makes them readily observable.