Yasuní National Park
Jungle cats in the Amazon are quite difficult to find —especially the jaguar— but in the Yasuní area, you have a total of 6 species out of the 10 found throughout the entire continent. The jaguar is a majestic creature that throughout the Americas carries with him an aura unchallenged, one that has made it a mythic figure amongst almost every single human group that has shared its jungle world. It is a reclusive, monogamist mammal, with a massive body, striking pattern and powerful hunting skills. Jaguars have been recorded in Napo Wildlife Center, but are virtually impossible to come across. Camera traps located inside forest have also shot panthers (which are melanistic —or black— jaguars) and pumas.
The more common jungle cats, still extremely hard to see in the wild, especially during the brief period most people stay at Napo Wildlife Center, belong to the smaller group: Jaguarundi, Margay, Ocelot and Oncilla.
The Jaguarundi is a beautifully grayish-tinged uniform small puma found in different areas of the Americas. The Ocelot and the Margay are both very similar in appearance. They differ in size, margays are smaller, and margays can also rotate their paws, which enables them to be more flexible when climbing up and down trees. Last but not least, the oncilla (locally known as the tigrillo, or “little tiger”) is another smaller jungle cat more spotted and less intricately patterned than the margay and the ocelot.
They are all spectacular representatives of our natural world and if you get a chance to see one during a night walk, on a trail or at a salt lick in the Yasuní, consider yourself honored!
The layman may very well live in oblivion, with little understanding of how the powers that be rule his everyday world. He may concoct conspiracy theories of how a handful of scheming bankers and politicians take advantage of his own life, but he hasn’t a clear picture, let alone credible evidence, of how these manipulations work. Scientists in the rainforest have forever felt what laymen feel about conspiracies. They know that a large majority of the rainforests’ dynamics plays out way above their heads, in what they have come to know as the “forest canopy”, but the inability to access it with ease renders their knowledge theoretical, at best.
The canopy, the forests’ ceiling, so to speak, seems like a puzzle of infinite pieces. There are animals and plants that hardly ever leave it, monkeys, epyphites, birds and insects that interrelate and could reveal numerous aspects of the biological realities that dictate the extreme biodiversity of a place like Yasuní. Thus, scientists have been seeking ways to explore it efficiently for decades. At first, it was climbing up a tree with ropes (usually the scientist himself was unable to, so he had to resort to a jungle native, and in one particular case, to a monkey to do so) to grab whatever random sample he could get his hands on for later study. Of course, in a place where every square foot may hold well over a hundred different species of living matter, what “clear picture” could these samples allow?
Today, different ways of exploring the canopy have been developed. Canopy towers, like that of Napo Wildlife Center, covers the entire strata spectrum of the forest on a galvanized-metal staircase, reaching the top of an emergent tree well over 100 ft. above the ground. For scientists, this may not be enough. They may prefer an entire system of moving cranes, which would have to feature perfectly silent movement, a technology that perhaps has not been yet developed, to not disturb the world the animals they are trying to study. But for the layman, however, a good observation deck is a spectacular vantage point to suggest how vast and awe-inspiring tropical rainforests really are. No need for theories there.
- ITB Berlin, LA Times and NY Times Travel Shows
- Initiatives and Projects
- Yasuní Kichwa Eco Lodge
- Vice president visits community – La Sabatina
- The Miami Herald
- Like the Yasuni Wildlife – Photo Competition
- Travelers Choice Prize 2013
- New Lagoon Side Dining Experience
- National Geographic celebrates its 125th anniversary with Yasuní
- Nat Geo goes all out on Yasuní