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national parks
 NATIONAL PARKS & PROTECTED AREAS [AMAZON]
   YASUNI NATIONAL PARK
 
Description
Sights
Flora and Fauna
Getting there
   FLORA AND FAUNA

Flora

In the firm terrain forest, the natural characteristic vegetation is green, heterogenic and dense and houses some especially large species and typical epiphytes.

 

Due to this particular forest’s irregular physiographic make-up, this forest houses a range of habitats and extends for around 77 per cent of the Park’s total area.

 

Mosses, ferns, orchids and bromeliads, fungi, climbing plants and lichens are also found here.

 

Tree canopies can reach over 30 metres in height. The trees have straight trunks and their roots are extremely far-reaching, allowing the trees to firmly plant themselves in the terrain to avoid being uprooted by the strong winds.

 

There are species in the area which support these altitudes, the chuncho , for example, which can extend to over 40 or 50 metres and which, along with various species of cedar tree, constitutes the main material used for making canoes in the Amazon. In the lower altitude forests exist the balsam, mahogany – valued for its precious wood – and guabos , the most diverse species. There are also several species used in the fabrication of artisan crafts, e.g. the tabua and balsa tree.

 

Towards ground level, palm species are more commonly found, for example the palm tree, chambira , palm hearts, pambil and the ungurahua tree used by the indigenous as medicine and utilised in construction.

 

There is also a range of climbing plants and herbs. Small streams are frequent in these parts, characterised by the ‘ plantanillo’ , an herbaceous plant whose flowers attract humming birds.

 

Seasonally flooded forest occupies around 9 per cent of the Park’s total area. Cedars, palm treesw, dragon’s blood tree and cruz caspi are among the floral species found in the area.

 

Epiphites, climbing plants, mosses, lichens and ferns are diverse varieties found in this forest. These areas can go for a long time without being subjected to flooding. For this reason, there are many settlers in the area preferring to inhabit the larger riverbanks, which also serve as communication and transportation routes. As a result of human settlement here, much of the vegetation has disappeared.

 

In the permanently flooded parts, several different ecosystems can be appreciated, which are extremely complex and diverse.

 

This flooded vegetation accommodates species almost all of which are endemic to the area. The average altitude here is around 12 metres , of which around a third is permanently submerged for most of the year.

 

As well as the three types of jungle habitats that exist here, there is a fourth, known as swamp forest made up of stagnant water almost all year round and dominated by a palm species known as morete , a source of nourishment and point of refuge for mammals, birds, reptiles and amphibians.

 

Last but not least, there is another type of vegetation present on the islands, mainly by rivers Napo and Curaray. Guarumos and guabas are the main floral species here and vegetation is similar to that of the seasonally flooded forests.

 

Fauna

The Park’s fauna is truly impressive. More than 500 bird species have been identified, all of which are colourful and eye-catching, including macaws, parrots and toucans – possibly the most notable in the area.

 

The paujil also lives here, a bird regarded highly by the indigenous of Yasuni, as well as an eagle species, the arpia eagle, extremely rare and whose diet includes monkeys and bears.

 

The Park houses some 173 mammal species, which have been identified, although its estimated that there are more than 200, constituting around 57 per cent of mammal fauna existing in the country.

 

The species most represented within the area is the bat with over 81 different species and seven different families.

 

Primates are also in abundance in the area, however, due to deforestation and hunting, some species have become extinct. The spider monkey and the chorongo are not as frequently seen nowadays as their natural habitat towards the west of the Park has been diminishing.

 

Aquatic life, such as the pink dolphin and giant otter, for instance, have become extinct in the upper areas of River Napo. This is a result of hunting, increased use of automobiles and consequent contamination of the rivers water.

 

The Park has one of the most diverse range of amphibian and reptile species in the world. More than 100 amphibian and a further 100 reptile species have been identified, among them 65 snake species and 43 frog species.

 

Turtles are also facing a hard time surviving here due to overexploitation of their meat and eggs. The black alligator population is currently in the process of recuperating after being subjected to many years of hunting for its thick hide.

 

There are a diverse range of fish species thanks to the several different ecosystems and aquatic environments, including lakes, swamps, white and black waters and springs. The paiche and the bagre can also be found here, the largest freshwater fish, and a species valued for its meat respectively.

Last Updated 21st July 2006 (DLW)

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