CUYABENO WILDLIFE RESERVE
In the foothills of the Andes, the Cuyabeno wildlife reserve covers about 2% of the Amazon rainforest and although the reserve is small, it contains about a third of the diversity of the entire Amazon rain forest!
The Ecuadorian Amazon Region takes up about half of the country, spilling east from the gentle slopes of the Andes into Perú and boasts a large percentage of Ecuador’s animals and plants. Rainforests are defined by low altitude (up to 1,000 meters), high temperatures (25- 28° C) and daily rainfall. Among the oldest of all ecosystems, the Amazon basin forests are at least 100 million years old. The jungle rivers of the eastern side of the Andes and the misty cloud forests provide the experience of a lifetime for nature lovers.
The Cuyabeno Wildlife Reserve protects 590.912 hectares of primary forest which must be conserved as natural patrimony for future generations. It is located close to the Equator, in the northeast area of the Ecuadorian Amazon rainforest. The elevation gently slopes from about 300 meters to slightly under 200 meters above sea level.
In Cuyabeno, there are many different types of seasonally flooded forests and swamps, which are traversed by sediment-poor dark rivers in the lower part of the Cuyabeno River and other forests flooded by sediment-rich rivers like in Lagartococha. Other forests are flooded by black-water rivers, dominated by the famous Macrolobium trees, which are the homes to countless epiphytes, herons, blue and yellow macaws and huatzins, like in the Laguna Grande and Zancudo Cocha, permanent lakes downstream of the Aguarico River. The Aguarico river is the largest river in the area and flows all the way to Peru. The river owes its coffee colour to the sediment rich waters which are fed by the well-drained forests located on small hills and in the upper watershed of the Cuyabeno river.
Cuyabeno is a paradise where over 500 different species of colourful birds starting from tiny hummingbirds to the majestic harpy eagle, which is only found in this area of the rainforest. Added to the rich presence of endemic bird species, there are 240 different species of plants per hectare, many of which are medicinal and have been used for generations by local indigenous peoples. The Cuyabeno reserve is also home to some of the 165 species of mammals including jaguars, monkeys, anteaters, sloths, dolphins (Inia Geoffrensis and Sotalia), manatees and armadillos. Caimans, stunning anacondas and the fearsome Fer-de-lances are just some of the 91 species of reptiles found. Piranhas, catfish, the gigantic arapaima, reaching over 2 meters, are just some of the approximately 470 species of fish that thrive in the black water rivers and lakes.
The Cuyabeno Reserve provides a home and habitat for countless plant and animal species as well as for indigenous communities such as Sionas, Secoyas, Kichwas, Shuar and Cofanes.