The first conservation initiative made for the ecosystem of Tambopata was by means of the RM 01-77-AG/DGFF on January 03,1977. It established the Tambopata Reserve Zone across a surface area of 5,500 hectares in a traditional Ese’eja territory. While conserving the Amazon forest, the area is used for scientific investigation of the flora and fauna as well as for tourist development. In July 1977, the company Peruvian Safaris was given the responsibility to take care of and protect the Tambopata Reserve Area for a period of 5 years through an agreement with the Dirección General de Forestal y Fauna (DGFF) and the Zona Agraria IX – Cuzco.
In 1983, the Pampas del Heath National Sanctuary was established, covering a surface area of 105,957 hectares, with the objective of protecting the only natural sample of a tropical, humid savanna in Perú (approximately 8,000 hectares)
In 1990, the area was declared La Zona Reservada Tambopata Candamo (ZRTC), thanks to the state's efforts at maintaining and conserving the biodiversity of the area. The ZRTC was created by means of Ministerial Resolution #0032-90-AG/DGFF on January 26, 1990 as.
a governmental initiative to protect this area which is home to an undisturbed population of wild flora and fauna species and attractive landscapes. It is considered top priority for conservation, due to it's location, diversity and a great expansion of land with almost unaltered character. In addition to the way the territory is arranged according to the capacity of land actually used and the land of potential use.
The Tambopata National Reserve was declared by means of the Supreme Law # 048-2000-AG, resulting from the proposition put forth by the area's committee planner. This proposition was elaborated in the background of the "Conservation of the Tropical Ecosystems Project and the sustainable use of the natural resources inside the Candamo Tambopata Reserve Area". Also, a damp area of the Tambopata National Reserve was determined as the Bahuaja Sonene National Park, formed by 271,582 hectares exclusive of the Candamo Tambopata Reserve.
The protected area features eight life zones: suptropical humid forest, tropical humid forest, suptropical high-humidity forest, suptropical high-humidity foothills cloud forest, subtropical rainforest, tropical cloud forest foothills, subtropical lower foothills cloud forest and semi-flooded subtropical premontane cloud forest.
The main rivers that flow through the area are the Tambopata, Malinowski, la Torre, Tavara, Candamo and Guacamayo. The main rivers flowing around the area are the Heath, Inambari and Madre de Dios. A series of smaller rivers and gullies make up the rest of the area's watershed.
There are several ways to access these protected areas. One can fly to the southeastern jungle town of Puerto Maldonado, the capital of the department of Madre de Dios. By road, one can drive from the Andean city of Cuzco to the northern edge of the protected areas or from Puno to the southern border. River access is down the Madre de Dios and Tambopata Rivers in shallow-bottomed boats. From Bolivia, one can reach the area via the Madre de Dios and Heath Rivers.
Average annual temperature is 26° C, ranging from 10-38° C; with average annual rainfall of 1600-2400 mm. Rainfall in the protected area is typical of most areas in the Peruvian Amazon. The climate ranges from humid and warm (3000 mm and 25° C on average), sub-level humidity and semi-warm (1700 mm and 26° C on average), high-level humidity and semi-warm (4000 mm and 23° C).
Tambopata features a high diversity of habitats, and therefore an incredible number of species are represented. In the Andes there are high levels of endemism, and this is true in the protected area as well. The protected area is concentrates rich biodiversity for several groups of organisms. The protected area features common species and concentrates a rich biological diversity in several groups of organisms. The Tambopata River watershed is considered to be one of the world's richest ecosystems in terms of biodiversity. An indicator of this vast wealth is the fact that in an area of just 550 hectares, researchers have found 91 species of mammals, 570 birds, 127 reptiles and amphibians and 94 fish, among other surprising records.
The Tambopata River in Madre de Dios near the Puno foothills is riddled with clumps of bamboo, the exclusive habitat of a variety of species of birds and mammals. The area features mature flooded forest and jungle typical of lower cloud forest. Flora in the national reserve is fairly typical of the southwest Amazon Basin. The Heath River and surrounding plains are a unique ecosystem in Peru. The pampas are pastures that are periodically flooded, and small groves of trees with varied plant life grow in isolated clumps on the plain.
The protected area is home to a wide diversity of plant life, including exploited forest species such as cedar (Cedrela odorata), mahogany (Swietenia macrophylla), tornillo (Cedrelinga sp.), Brazil nut (Bertholetia excelsa), palm trees such as the pona (Iriartea ventricosa), aguaje (Mauritia flexuosa), huasaí (Euterpe sp.) and ungurahui (Jessenia bataua).
Researchers have discovered in the protected area large numbers of species that are now rarely found elsewhere in the Amazon jungle due to poaching, particularly tapirs and spider monkeys, but also jaguars, white-lipped peccary, medium-sized and large monkeys and caiman. The rivers teem with giant river otters.
Within the reserve, the lower elevation zone is dominated mostly by Amazonian bird species, the ones that are at or near their upper elevation limits, and by species that are restricted (or partially restricted) to the narrow band of rain forest found on the lower slopes of the Andes. Because of the growing deforestation rate along this latitudinal border in other parts of the Andes, this ecosystem is one of these most threatened in all of South America. A relatively large portion of this ecosystem is found within the Bahuaja-Sonene National Park.
In a 5,000-hectare area where La Torre River feeds into Tambopata, almost 575 bird species have been registered. In addition, this same area contains approximately 1200 butterfly species, making its conservation extremely important (CI Peru).
The Heath plains and environs have yielded 74 species including marsh deer (Blastocerus dichotomus), maned wolf (Chrysocyon brachyurus), giant anteater (Myrmecophaga tridactyla), short-haired highland dog (Atelocynus microtis), 28 species of amphibians and 17 species of reptiles.
According to the Red Book on Wildlife in Peru by Víctor Pulido, the protected area features various species with differing conservation status. There are species on the verge of extinction such as the otter (Lutra longicaudis) and giant river otter (Pteronura brasiliensis); vulnerable species such as the anteater (Myrmecophaga tridactyla), giant armadillo (Priodontes maximus), howler monkey (Alouatta seniculus), black spider monkey (Ateles paniscus), white squirrel monkey (Cebus albifrons), black squirrel monkey (Cebus apella), choro monkey (Lagothrix lagothricha), jaguar (Panthera onca), pink river dolphin (Ajaija ajaja), paujil (Crax globulosa), South American river turtle (Podocnemis expansa), yellow-headed river turtle (Podocnemis unifilis), anaconda (Eunectes murinus); and rare species such as the hairy armadillo (Dasypus pilosus), Goeldi's marmoset (Callimico goeldii), highland dog (Speothos venaticus), pacarana (Dinomys branickii), harpy eagle (Harpia harpyja); and species in a status yet to be determined such as the musmuqui (Aotus miconax), shot-eared dog (Atelocynus microtis), tropical weasal (Mustela africana), ocelot (Leopardus pardalis), margay (Leoparduss wiedii), jaguarundi (Herpailurus yaguaroundi), ash deer (Mazama gouazoubira), macaws and parrots Ara ararauna, Ara militaris militaris, Ara macao, Ara chloroptera, Ara severa castaneifrons, Ara couloni, red-footed tortoise (Geochelone carbonaria), white cayman (Caiman sclerops), and rainbow boa (Epicrates cenchria).
REGULATIONS AND ADMINISTRATION
Peru's natural protected areas are monitored by the General Department of Natural Protected Areas, with administration provided by the National Institute of Natural Resources INRENA, an entity which is part of the Agriculture Ministry. The current administration is governed by Law N° 26834, the Law of Natural Protected Areas promulgated 30/06/97 and Supreme Decree N° 038-2001-AG.
Tambopata National Reserve and Bahuaja-Sonene National Park were created out of the same protected area, Tambopata-Candamo Reserved Zone. Despite the fact the areas feature different categories of protection and management, the reserve and the park share a single administration, which includes 13 park wardens (11 in Madre de Dios and two in Puno), one administrative employee, a manager and four professionals providing support (three in Madre de Dios and one in Puno) The master plan for the protected area is currently being prepared.
The area is protected by five control posts: 1) At the entrance to Lake Sandoval on the Madre de Dios River; 2) the Huisene post on the Madre de Dios River where the Palma Real River flows into the Madre de Dios; 3) the Torre post, on the Tambopata River where it merges with the La Torre River on the border of the national reserve near the community of Infierno; 4) The Malinowski post, on the Tambopata River where it merges with the Malinowski River, near the border of the national park; 5) the San Antonio post on the Heath River. In the department of Puno, in the area of San Juan del Oro, an office functions in the town of Putina Punco, staffed by a professional and two park wardens.
Tourism is becoming an increasingly important activity in the area in recent years. Madre de Dios is home to 25 registered tourist lodges, 11 of which lie within the buffer zone and two within the reserve. There are also independent tour guides operating in the area, with 13 guides registered to date. Some local inhabitants are participating with their own lodges and hostels with the aid of loans and institutional backing. The area features two lodges that are owned by indigenous communities, one in Infierno on the Tambopata River, Posada Amazonas, and the other in Sonene on the Heath River, Ese Eja Indian Lodge.
Tourism in the protected area is concentrated around the Tambopata River and the lower Madre de Dios. Ever year, 7-8,000 tourists visit the area mainly from abroad. Touristys are charged an entry fee to visit, and the amount depends on the activity: whether the tourist is spending the night, visiting the macaw clay lick or whitewater river rafting. The area features a rafting circuit which runs down the Tambopata River from Putina Punco crossing the entire national park down to Puerto Maldonado.
Some lodges located in front of the buffer zone on the other bank of the lower Madre de Dios River use the buffer zone by crossing the river, establishing trail networks and visiting Lake Sandoval and environs. Some tour operators offer visitors the chance to go fishing or hunting, and demand authorization from the protected area. Independent guides tend to take tourists to campsites instead of the lodges, making it harder to control their activities.
The giant river otter is a species of great interest to tourists, and tourists often stress otter colonies residing in lakes. A similar problem occurs with the parrots and macaws, which descend to peck at the clay lick. Here tourists often get too close or make too much noise, upsetting the birds. The administration of the protected area has set up regulations for all tour operators working in the area and rules for visitors' behavior, with fines for companies that fail to comply.