Pacaya-Samiria National Reserve is located in Peru's Amazon region, 93 miles from Iquitos. The Reserve is a triangular shaped area between the Maranon and Ucayali rivers. These rivers intersect at the northeastern tip of the Reserve, marking the beginning of what is considered the Amazon proper.

The basins of the Pacaya and Samiria rivers have been protected by the Peruvian government since 1940. The area was declared a National Reserve in 1972 and enlarged to its present size of 5,137,000 acres in 1982. The Reserve is the largest in Peru, the second largest in the Amazon region, and the fourth largest in all of South America. (Do you know what the first three largest reserves are?) The great size of the Reserve assures that it will be ecologically and genetically representative of the region, with an abundance of virtually unchanged areas.

Red-and-Green Macaws (Ara chloroptera) can be seen thoughout the Amazon rainforest.

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The objectives of the Pacaya-Samiria National Reserve are:

  • To conserve *ecosystems that are representative of the low jungle.
  • To encourage the study of the area's *flora and *fauna.
  • To advance and extend education about the area.
  • To interest the local population in the benefits of conservation and good management of the fauna.
  • To encourage and further the use of the *natural resources according to the principals of proper ecological development.

Of these objectives, the main objective is the conservation and protection of the flora and fauna found there. Unique to the Reserve however, is the objective to continue to use the natural resources found in the Reserve for the benefit of the people living in the area.

Landscape & Elevation

There are two types of landscapes found in the reserve. They are the *alluvial plain and the gently undulating hills found in the western part of the Reserve. The altitude of the Reserve is between 263 to 675 feet above sea level. (How does that compare with where you live?) The vegetation is very typical of what is found in humid tropical rainforests and is characterized by great *heterogeneity and *diversity of species.

Rivers & Lakes

There are two main rivers in the Reserve. The Pacaya, a tributary of the Ucayali, flows into the left bank of the Puinahua Channel of the Ucayali. Its length is approximately 198 miles. The Samiria, a tributary of the Marañon, flows into the right bank of that river. Its length is approximately 214 miles. Both rivers follow a winding course as they make their way through the Reserve. Their widths vary from 164 to 495 feet and their water levels vary with the seasons. Low water season is August and September, and high water season is February through April.

There are over 80 lakes in the Reserve, the most important ones are the Hatun Cocha, Pastococha, Shinguito, Maldonado, Ungurahui, Yanayacu, Zapote, Yarina, Tamara, Cotococha, Achual, and El Dorado.

Animal & Plant Life

Animal and plant life is abundant and extremely varied. There are over 132 species of mammals, 13 of which are primates. The black spider monkey, the orange-chested spider monkey, the woolly monkey, and the howler monkey are all considered *endangered. There are over 300 species of birds and 132 species of reptiles.

The People

The approximately 47,660 people who live in the Reserve are located mainly along the edge of the Reserve in villages. Although a few villages are found in the interior of the Reserve. The average family has six to ten people and their main food staples are *plantains, *yucca and fish. Their primary source of food and income is from the natural resources found in the Reserve. Their houses are made from materials found in the forest.

To learn more about the Reserve, visit the Nature Conservancy in Peru.



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