Yavari River and Pacaya-Samiria National Reserve, Samaria River, Loreto, Peru — The vast, relatively untouched Amazonian forests of northeastern Peru harbor an incredible diversity of wildlife. Pink river dolphins and caimans still swim these waters, while extraordinary birds fly through the canopy. Uakari monkeys abound along the Yavari River and manatees swim in the lakes of Samiria. Rare giant river otters can sometimes be seen hunting and playing in area lakes and rivers. In this remote and isolated region of the Amazon, scientists Dr. Richard Bodmer, Tula Fang, and Pablo Puertas are conducting a comprehensive survey of the area’s biodiversity to develop sustainable conservation strategies for the region and the people who inhabit it. Illegal timber companies, pet traders, and hunters have decimated wildlife in other areas of the Amazon, lending urgency to the conservation of these nearly pristine reserves.
Meet the Scientists
Dr. Richard Bodmer
Durrell Institute of Conservation and Ecology;
The Wildlife Conservation Society
"The biodiversity crisis must be met in ways that balance the needs of the environment as well as those of local human communities and regional national economies."
Dr. Bodmer was born in England in 1960 and spent his youth in Chicago where he worked with the Brookfield Zoo, first in the Children's Zoo and later as a research assistant to Dr. George Rabb working on the Okapi project. He completed his B.Sc. in Ecology, Ethology and Evolution at the University of Illinois and his M.Sc. in Biology at the same university. He then went on to complete his Ph.D. with Dr. Tim Clutton-Brock in Zoology at the University of Cambridge, England. Dr. Bodmer has an Honorary Doctor of Science from the National University of the Peruvian Amazon and has received two Presidential Awards from the Chicago Zoological Society. He has worked in the Ituri forests of the Congo, the rainforests of central Borneo, and in many Neotropical regions. His long-term research has been on the ecology, population dynamics and conservation of Amazonian wildlife in Peru and Brazil. He has been working in the Lago Preto Conservation Concession and the Pacaya-Samiria National Reserve for more than 16 years in collaboration with the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS), the National University of the Peruvian Amazon (UNAP), the World Wildlife Fund (WWF), the Durrell Institute of Conservation and Ecology (DICE) and the University of Florida.
Ms. Fang was born in Iquitos, Peru in 1959 and spent her youth in the Amazon where she learned about the forests and its wonders. She completed her B.Sc. in Biology at the National University of the Peruvian Amazon and her M.Sc. at the Durrell Institute of Conservation and Ecology (DICE) at the University of Kent, England. She began her research career working with primates in the Tamshiyacu-Tahuayo Community Reserve, which forms part of the proposed Greater Yavari Protected Area. More recently, she has been involved with the Peccary Pelt Certification Programme in Peru, which is a joint program involving the Peruvian Government, CITES and numerous non-governmental organizations.
Mr. Puertas was born in the Peruvian Amazon in 1963 and spent his youth in a small rural community on the Yavari River. With help from his church he was able to study in Iquitos and went on to complete his B.Sc. in Biology at the National University of the Peruvian Amazon. He finished his M.Sc. in Wildlife Ecology and Conservation at the University of Florida, Gainesville. He began his research career studying night monkeys for the World Health Organization’s Peruvian Primatology Project. He then coordinated the WWF projects in the Pacaya-Samiria National Reserve and is currently coordinating WCS’s Peru Program. He is the President of the Management Committee of the Pacaya-Samiria National Reserve and has worked extensively with community-based conservation and protected area management over the years.