Chiribiquete National Park – “The Maloca of the Jaguar”

N0 31 31 W72 47 50
Date of Inscription: 2018
Criteria: (iii)(ix)(x)
Property : 2,782,354 ha
Buffer zone: 3,989,682.82 ha
Ref: 1174
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Chiribiquete National Park, the largest protected area in Colombia, is the confluence point of four biogeographical provinces: Orinoquia, Guyana, Amazonia, and North Andes. As such, the National Park guarantees the connectivity and preservation of the biodiversity of these provinces, constituting itself as an interaction scenario in which flora and fauna diversity and endemism have flourished. One of the defining features of Chiribiquete is the presence of tepuis (table-top mountains), sheer-sided sandstone plateaux that outstand in the forest and result in dramatic scenery that is reinforced by its remoteness, inaccessibility and exceptional conservation. Over 75,000 figures have been made by indigenous people on the walls of the 60 rock shelters from 20,000 BCE, and are still made nowadays by the uncontacted peoples protected by the National Park. These paintings depict hunting scenes, battles, dances and ceremonies, as well as fauna and flora species, with a particular the worship of the jaguar, a symbol of power and fertility. The indigenous communities, which are not directly present on the site, consider Chiribiquete as a sacred place that cannot be visited and that should be preserved unaltered.

Chiribiquete National Park – “The Maloca of the Jaguar” is in the Amazon rainforest in south central Colombia. Following its extension in 2013, the park is now the largest national park in Colombia at 2,782,354 hectares and is very large by global standards for protected areas. It is located at the western-most edge of the Guiana Shield and contains one of only three uplifted areas of the Shield called the Chiribiquete Plateau. One of the most impressive defining features of Chiribiquete is the presence of many tepuis which are table-top mountains, found only in the Guiana Shield, notable for their high levels of endemism. The tepuis found in Chiribiquete, whilst smaller when compared to others in the Guiana Shield, result nonetheless in dramatic scenery that is reinforced by their remoteness and inaccessibility. A particularly significant value of the property is its high degree of naturalness which makes it one of the most important wilderness areas in the world.

Some 75,000 rock pictographs have been listed on the walls of 60 rock shelters at the foot of tepuis. The portrayals are interpreted as scenes of hunting, battles, dances and ceremonies, all of which are linked to a purported cult of the jaguar, seen as a symbol of power and fertility. Such practices are thought to reflect a coherent system of thousand-year-old sacred beliefs, organizing and explaining the relations between the cosmos, nature and man. The archaeological sites are believed to be accessed even today by indigenous uncontacted groups.

Chiribiquete is home to many iconic species including Jaguar, Puma, Lowland Tapir, Giant Otter, Howler Monkey, Brown Woolly Monkey. A high level of endemism occurs in the property and the number of endemic species is likely to rise substantially once new research programmes are implemented.

The global significance of the property to biodiversity conservation is reflected by the fact that it is considered a Centre of Plant Diversity, an Important Bird Area, an Endemic Bird Area, a Key Biodiversity Area and it is the only site protecting one of the terrestrial ecoregions of flooded forests called “Purus Varze”, considered Critical/Endangered by WWF International. The biodiversity values of the property are inextricably linked to its significant cultural and archaeological values that are strongly associated to the beliefs and spiritual values of the indigenous peoples living in the property.

Criterion (iii): The rock art sites of Chiribiquete hold an exceptional testimony, by the large number of painted rock shelters around the foot of rare tepui rock formations, by the diversity of motifs, which are often realistic, and by the chronological depth and persistence up to the present-day of the purported frequentation of the sites by isolated communities. The first inhabitants of Amazonia practised their art on the rock walls of Chiribiquete, and these paintings constitute an exceptional testimony of their vision of the world. Chiribiquete is even today considered to be of mythical importance by several groups and is designated the “Great Home of the Animals”.

Criterion (ix): The property, due to its unique location in the middle of two Pleistocene refuges (Napo and Imeri) and its function as a corridor between three biogeographic provinces (Orinoquia, Guyana, and Amazonia), hosts unique species with distinctive adaptations that are thought to have resulted from its geographical isolation. It is located in the Chiribiquete-Araracuara-Cahuinari Region Centre for Plant Diversity and has been identified as a gap. The property overlaps entirely with Serrania de Chiribiquete, which is listed amongst the most irreplaceable protected areas in the world for the conservation of mammal, bird and amphibian species. The property is located in a unique biogeographical context where evolutionary processes have shaped the high floral and faunal diversity. It presents a mosaic of mainly Guyanese and Amazonian landscapes that provide a great variety of unique habitats that are critical for the survival of the property’s characteristic plants and animals.

Criterion (x): Despite the fact that limited scientific research has been undertaken in the property, data available shows that 2,939 species have been recorded. These include 1,801 species of vascular plants, 82 species of mammals (including 58 bat species and a bat species new to science) as well as a number of globally threatened species such as the Giant Otter, Giant Anteater, Lowland Tapir, Common Woolly Monkey and Jaguar, 60 species of reptiles, 57 species of amphibians, 492 species and subspecies of birds (including a new endemic species, the Chiribiquete Emerald Hummingbird), 238 fish species and 209 species of butterflies (including to date at least 6 potentially new species). The number of species, including of endemic species (21 endemics reported) would most certainly rise as more scientific expeditions are undertaken in the future.

Suggested Bases:

Puerto Santander is a town and municipality in the Colombian Department of Amazonas. The economy relies on fishing, farming and to a lesser extent hunting [read more].

La Macarena is a little Colombian pueblo in the southernmost part of El Meta. A remote outpost in the vast plains of the Orinoquía, it is best known as a base for visiting Caño Cristales, the so-called Most Beautiful River in the World, the Liquid Rainbow, the River of Seven Colors. There isn’t a whole lot to say about the town. The municipality, which includes an enormous amount of countryside, has less than 4,000 inhabitants, and only a fraction of them are in the town itself. It serves as the regional center for the surrounding campesinos, who mostly raise cattle. Because the campesinos come into town for goods on the weekends, Sunday cannot be the local day of rest—so they arbitrarily chose Wednesday. You’ll notice this right away when you see that 90% of the businesses are shuttered! While the region was inhabited by indigenous Guayaberos since prehistoric times, an actual settlement in the area dates back to the 1950s, when colonos arrived from Caquetá, founding the town initially under the name El Refugio [read more].

San José del Guaviare is a town and municipality in Colombia, capital of the department of Guaviare by the Guaviare River. It is home to some of the deisolated Nunak people [read more].

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