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Paraguay Green Tourism

Birding & Saving Richest Bird Habitat of Paraguay

Since its creation as a ‘Reserve Area for National Park’ in 1992, San Rafael (730 km2) has suffered more than 20% loss of its endangered and unique ecosystem of Atlantic Forest. This last remnant of Atlantic Forest has proved to contain more than 60% of the bird fauna of the country, and 80% of the Atlantic Forest endemics.

Alberto Esquivel, bird guide and Council member of Asociación Pro Cosara (a local NGO that works for conservation of San Rafael), is developing strategies to help to save this rich bird area.

His Ph.D. studies has shown that no other site in Paraguay contain such a bird diversity, and that even other remnants of Atlantic Forest of Brazil and Argentina, two to three times bigger, do not surpasses its bird richness.

Even so, since 1992 the national government of Paraguay has not shown any intention to preserve the area, meaning that the entire area is still divided between more than 40 different private owners, and that no park rangers are monitoring to protect against illicit actions. The legal uncertainties of the area has only provided with more threats to its forest and biodiversity, as private owners found difficult to maintain a land without doing any economical activity. Due to this, many illegal harvesting occurs in the area, as well as deforestation and hunting. In the last few years, forest fires has become a new and usual threat, that are deliberately set by local people to clear the land for agriculture.Pro Cosara´s action includes a vigilance program by rangers, environmental education at neighboring populations and reforestation at San Rafael. Alberto Esquivel, with the support of Dr. Salvador Peris from University of Salamanca and Agencia Española de Cooperación Internacional para el Desarrollo (AECID), has help Pro Cosara in the last years to save San Rafael, by developing projects that has facilitated the building of an Interpretation Center (now the principal place of Pro Cosara), and by strengthening the research at San Rafael through a project with the National University of Asunción, that allows many MSc. Students to develop their thesis at San Rafael.

Alberto is now developing new studies that attempts to understand the impact of forest harvesting in the bird community of the Atlantic Forest of San Rafael. These new studies will need ringers in the next two reproductive seasons (September – December 2013 and 2014). If you want to volunteer and help Alberto`s works or would like to do a birding trip at San Rafael and other rich areas of Paraguay, you can visit http://www.wildlife.com.py or contact to his email: alberto.esquivel@wildlife.com.py

4th July 2014