It  is the capital of the region of Madre de Dios and is located on the banks of the river of the same name that extends for 95,000 km2. This river crosses the department completely and is important beacause it is the principal channel of communication and link with other rivers of the zone. It is perhaps the Amazonian city that is least developed in Peru and the most populated in the southern rainforest though its tourism infrastructure is very developed allowing visits from here to the National Reserve of Tambopata and Lake Sandoval.


Manu National Park its biogeography, conservation and aquatic life in an important region between the Andes and the Amazon in Peru’s southeastern: the Madre de Dios River. The Andean-Amazonian region headers form an arc of 4000 km long that starts in Colombia in the north and extends to Bolivia in the south. It is a border region for science, in which the aquatic ecology is still poorly known. The header area, between the Andes and the Amazon, is known in much of the world mainly as the place where coca is grown to produce cocaine that nourishes the international market. However, this region currently suffers dramatic changes by man which rapidly transform their forests and rivers in manu national park – puerto maldonado.

Knowledge of the ecology of headwater is important for proper management of watersheds, because the negative impacts that may arise there be exported waters below, and in the case of the Madre de Dios River, not just the end southeast of Peru, but also to Bolivia and Brazil.

The Madre de Dios River is suitable for beginning to understand the dynamics of the headwaters of the Andean-Amazonian rivers and discover the amazing aquatic life that exists in the upper Amazon region place great. The creation of the Manu National Park and then the Bahuaja- Sonene National Park and the Award of Los Amigos Conservation, made the Madre de Dios region of one of the most promising areas for conservation projects in the basin long-term Amazon. However, protected natural areas by themselves do not guarantee the protection of life in rivers, especially in the case of migratory species that abound in the basin of the Madre de Dios River in Puerto Maldonado.

Modern ecology teaches that the headwaters of the rivers should be seen as a vital component of ecosystems; Also, human activities therein have to be considered as critical elements. As the Peruvian State and some entrepreneurs continue to extract resources from the Upper Madre de Dios, populations will increase and with them also the threats. The establishment of protected areas was the first significant step towards the conservation of the headwaters of the Madre de Dios River; Now the challenge is to integrate the concept of the complex system header ecological interactions that form the rivers, forests, wildlife and human activities. In order to facilitate this process we present below some chapters for defining the concept of headwater and the impact of human activities on aquatic environments in manu.

According to its elevation, the basin of the Madre de Dios River can be divided into two distinct areas: the Andes and the Amazon Plain. The Amazon plains and lowlands are located approximately 350 meters above sea level and covered with rainforests. Extensive aguajales qualify the rivers and jungle landscape. Much of the floodplain is also covered by rainforests. The Andean Basin of Madre de Dios River rises to 5000 meters above sea level and, usually, the Andean peaks are located just 150 kilometers from the Amazonian lowlands. In other words, there is a large drop in the topography of the eastern side of the Andes and the Amazon lowlands. There are of course various climatic and vegetation between the snowy peaks and lowland areas. To understand how the elevation models the region of the headwaters of the Madre de Dios River, chapter four of this book provides an overview of the eastern side of the Vilcanota mountain range, located in southeastern Peru, its types rivers and vegetation covers and protects the watershed in the different climatic zones in Manu National Park – Puerto Maldonado .

The rainforest and rivers meandering course are the main characteristics of the lowland region of Madre de Dios River. Meanders double the length of the Madre de Dios River and most of its tributaries, significantly increasing its marshes and shores. The forest floor in the vicinity of the Andes is a giant receiver alluvium deposited by rivers. The relatively rich soils are usually associated with alluvial material from the Andes. Many biologists say, today, that the accumulation of nutrients in this area is the cause of its great biodiversity, or at least the high density of terrestrial and arboreal mammals recorded in the region of Madre de Dios. Both onshore and floodplains are covered by a rich rainforest species. Most of the rivers flowing through the region of Madre de Dios are high turbidity, which changes seasonally. Chapter five presents an overview of the landscape of the rainforest and rivers in the lowlands of Madre de Dios basin.

Most people interested in nature conservation or identifies with wildlife. The very definition of the meaning of aquatic life in the Amazon is subjective. The Mother of God, for example, has huge river flooded forests with a wide variety of birds, mammals and invertebrates unknown numbers. Because flooded forests have many species that are not found on the mainland, we can say that it is definitely an aquatic ecosystem. Actually, flooded forests shared by most animal species with upland forests, but many others show preference for lowland located along rivers. In this book we will cover the fish, turtles, alligators and giant otter or otter. They are vertebrates that spend most of their lives in water.

Certainly, the fish are by far the most diverse aquatic vertebrates in the basin of the Madre de Dios River group: its waters there are probably about 600 species, most of them still waiting to be scientifically described. There are also several species of turtles, four species of alligators v two otters, although only deal in this book about the giant otter. Something that fish, turtles, alligators and otters have in common, besides living in the aquatic environment is suffering in one way or another the impact of human activities. All of the large fish and all varieties of turtles, alligators and otters are fished or hunted. These groups include precisely the aquatic species of greatest interest to the public interested in conservation and wildlife. They, at the same time, they should be seen as key elements that indicate the health of rivers and other aquatic environments in jungle.

Because of its great diversity and short of our knowledge of the majority of their species, fish have been the great challenge of this book. Many scientific names we use in these pages change insurance when the Amazon fish fauna is better known. Nevertheless, we present the first sample color has been made over the fish of Andean-Amazon region. Many of the species shown here correspond to catches in the rivers Madre de Dios and Los Amigos, which we consider representative of the fish wealth of the lowland basin of the Madre de Dios River. In a future issue we plan to include a sample of fish from the Andean slopes and higher elevations in the Andes, where diversity is much more limited, but whose composition differs significantly with that of the lowlands.

Realistic conservation initiatives are those that are based on a wide range of cultural and biological considerations. These considerations, however, are still poorly understood within the scope of the ecosystems of the Amazon Basin. Virtually all countries of the Amazon basin are connected ecologically, especially through the rivers. Power flows downstream, but many of the most important fish species migrate upstream from Brazil and Bolivia to spawn in the Peruvian headwaters. That is why all Amazon countries should pay special attention to the conservation of the region header, among other things, the role they play in maintaining the hydrological cycle and the huge variety of wildlife species that inhabit its water. One purpose of Manu Jungle Trips is starting a comprehensive view of one of the most important areas of the Amazonian Andes header, the Madre de Dios River.

Our desire is to provide the reader with all the geographical and ecological information about the beauty and diversity of aquatic life in the basin of the Madre de Dios River and concepts needed to achieve


The region of the headwaters of the Madre de Dios River is, without a doubt, a wonderful place for aquatic wildlife but at the same time it is also a territory conquered by man probably since his arrival to South America. Humans continue to live in this region and, indeed, its population will increase over time. Overall, the valley of the Madre de Dios river is a frontier for the modern man, and much of the local economy is still based on the exploitation of primary resources, such as gold and wood, none of which has proven to be feasible to provide long-term development for the region. So far, it is still unclear how the economy will evolve in the area in the coming decades, when mining and logging have declined significantly. What does seem certain, however, is that the region of Madre de Dios will become a much more internationalized area once the roads that link with Brazil and Bolivia are completed and improved.

Despite its economic problems, the Peruvian government has launched bold and ambitious programs for the establishment of some of the most important protected areas in the Amazon basin. These areas, in turn, have begun to attract the attention of scientists, ecotourists, governments and all those doomed to achieve the delicate balance between economic development and conservation of biodiversity in the long term. However, many social and economic problems facing conservation initiatives, the Madre de Dios river offers an optimistic vision for the protection of the headwaters of the basin, compared with most similar areas in the Amazon. The following pages have been designed with the object of providing light to these challenges and conservation needs of the headwaters of the Andean-Amazonian rivers.

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