Manu Biosphere Reserve or Reserva de la Biosfera del Manu is part of Manu National Park in southern Peru. It includes an eco-tourist zone.
The Amazonian rainforest can be reached from nine countries. The most popular destinations being Brazil and Peru. One of the lesser known Amazonian destination which is situated in a UNESCO protected area, is the Manu Biosphere Reserve or Reserva de la Biosfera del Manu. It forms part of the Manu national park which is an immense area of rainforest covering 1.5 million hectares, located in southern Peru.
The park was created in 1973 to preserve natural and cultural heritage for future generations. In 1985 the park was recognized by UNESCO as a world heritage site. The Manu Biosphere Reserve is divided into three large zones. The cultural zone; where some forestry and agriculture are permitted. A buffer zone and an eco-tourism zone, where there are lodges and camping is allowed. This zone covers 965 sq miles of pristine Amazonian rainforest.
Those who wish to visit the eco-tourism zone must first arrange a tour with an licensed eco-tourism operator, of which there are several in Cuzco. From Cuzco, the Manu Biosphere reserve is a spectacular two day trip by bus and river boat. The best views of the Amazon can be seen from Tres Cruses look out point, at an elevation of 13,000 feet. From this same vantage point the Incas surveyed their source of wealth and in the sixteenth century Francisco Pizarro conquered the same.
The Manu Biosphere Reserve is home to over 15,000 plants, and a 1,000 species of birds and mammals. The reserve serves to protect many endangered species, such as the giant otter, which has been hunted to extinction for its fur in many other parts of Amazonia. Spotted jaguars and pumas are rarely seen, as they are solitary animals, there may be just one or two in a large area of the forest. The margay is a spotted cat; similar to an ocelot but slightly smaller, its spends most of its time in trees. The margay as an endangered species, is now listed as “near threatened.” Ocelots do not spend to much time in trees and they are mostly nocturnal. They also came close to extinction in the 1970’s, however the threat has now be raised to “least concern” as of 2008. Ocelots are considered sacred by some indigenous tribes in Peru.
The Andean cock-of-the-rock ( rupicola peruvianus)
One of the jungle cats favorite prey and also the anacondas, is the worlds largest rodent, the capybara. This aquatic creature is not in any great danger of extinction, although it is hunted for its meat and fur. Also at Manu Biosphere Reserve there are Brazilian tapirs. This herbivore is the largest land mammals in South America. They spend much of their time in the river, but sleep on the river bank at night, when they are most vulnerable to attack from caimans and jaguars. The Brazilian tapir is less endangered than all other species of tapir. Other animals to look out for in the reserve are 13 different species of monkey, sloths, opossums, tayra and the collared peccary. Bird specious include the Orinoco goose, trogons, macaws, toucans, harpy eagle, hoactzin, American darter, guans, and the Muskovy duck.
Red and blue macaws eat clay providing them with the necessary nutrients.
The squirrel monkey. There are 13 species of Monkeys in Manu National Park.
Capybara, the worlds largest rodant.
Ocelots are considered sacred by some indigenous tribes.
All images from commons.wikimedia and flickr.com with creative commons licence.
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