Saturday, April 24, 2010

Saving El Dorado's freshwater giants

Text and photos by Walter M. Wust

Aiming to save the paiche, the biggest freshwater fish in the world, a small group of local fishermen from Loreto decided to work for their conservation. The result was a successful example of how resource management is beginning to bear fruit.

If Brazil has the Pantanal and Botswana the Okavango Delta, then Peru should feel proud to count Pacaya-Samiria among its protected natural areas. More than two million hectares of lakes, swamps and wetlands form this corner of the Amazon forest, creating a true magnet for wildlife.

It is, without doubt, the kingdom of aquatic species, among which the gigantic paiche stands out. Weighing in at up to 300 kilos and measuring some 3 meters, it is the biggest freshwater fish in the world. In the heart of Pacaya-Samiria lies El Dorado Lake, a remote place of incomparable beauty. Here, among the ancient forests and rivers that resemble mirrors, nature seems to have been protected since the beginning of time.




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