The Manacacías River. Photo Credit: Federico Rios for The New York Times

EnvironmentSociety Colombia16. March 2024

Land Owners Become Park Rangers for the Sake of Conservation

A new national park has been inaugurated in a corner of the Llanos region in Colombia, a strategic area to protect a crucial link between the tropical savanna and the Amazon, with the help of locals turned rangers.

“The more data coming from the park, explains Thomas Walschburger, the chief scientist for the Nature Conservancy in Colombia, the greater the conservation possibilities in and around it.”

The 681-km2 Parque Nacional Natural Serranía de Manacacías is located in a corner of the llanos – which spans more than 517,000 km2 through Colombia and Venezuela – that borders the Manacacías River. In the works since 2010, the park became an actual project when the government recognized the llanos as a conservation priority, a territory where ranchers and cattle long learned to coexist with jaguars, panthers, anacondas, electric eels, and crocodiles. The hope is to save a lot more by protecting this tiny piece of the savanna. When rangers documented the presence of a bush dog in the park, it proved that the once-thought-extinct wild canine benefited from the wilderness corridor between Manacacías and the Amazon basin. The more data pours in, the greater the conservation possibilities are. Colombia put up some $20 million for the park through funds, a fossil fuel tax, and environmental impact compensation payments from the industry. In comparison, nonprofit groups helped raise more than $5 million to purchase land. Ranch owners selling their lands to the government were invited to become park rangers as they are pioneers who can make a difference.

The New York Times

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