Thursday, 21 August 2008

Tapajos National Forest

The Tapajos National Forest is the second largest conservation unit located in the Tapajos river watershed, a region of great biodiversity, with many species endemic to the region, and extremely scenic.
Very few conservation units in the Amazon region protect such a large portion of the flora and fauna of clear water river systems.

Over 1400 families divided in 29 communities living in traditional style, mostly along the Tapajos river edge. They cultivate manioc, corn, rice, watermelon, fish, gather turtles, brazil nuts, oils, resins, sell handcrafts and more recently practice
ecotourism, which creates a good perspective for the local economy and conservation.
This local population of caboclos, mostly born in the region, are descendents of Portuguese, originally attracted by rubber collecting, and the indigenous people.

Currently, most of the communities are supplied with tapped water and water wells. A boat-clinic provides medical assistance, and some social and environmental projects are developed thanks to non-governmental organizations.

Igapó forest also occurs in the reserve, where highly threatened species of water
mammals like river otters, giant otters and manatee can be found,particularly during the rainy season which lasts from December to July, with most precipitation occuring from December to May.
Some 300 different species of fish also depends on such habitat. They are Tambaquis, Pirarucus, stingrays and cat fish to mention some.

Dense tropical forest, most located in Terra Firme hosts an array of mammals including spider monkeys, jaguars, tapirs, two-toed sloths and more common games like pacas, agoutis, peccaries, capuchin monkeys, Howler monkeys and Silvery marmoset.

Over 300 species of birds can be found in the Tapajos national forest; amongst these are harpy eagles, crested eagles, white-tailed cotinga, bare-eyed antbird,pale-faced antbird, purple-breasted cotingas, hoatzins.

The Psittacidae family is quite well represented by Hyacinth macaws, Red-and-green macaws, Scarlet macaws, Blue-and-yellow macaws, red-bellied macaws, Vulturine parrots and Golden Parakeet, the symbol of Brazil.

Reptiles, amphibians and insects are also plentiful and very little studies have been carried on this field, creating an infinite environment for researches.
The Santarem-Cuiaba highway gives access to the park as well as the Tapajos River.

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