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KAA IYA NATIONAL PARK

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KAA IYA NATIONAL PARK


Created in September 1995 after two years of efforts, the 3.4 million km2 area of Kaa Iya National Park in the "Great Chaco" is one of Latin America's largest protected areas and one of the most distinctive and lively biodiversity refuges, containing jaguars, white-lipped peccaries, guanacos, pumas, deer and tapirs. Reptiles and birds also abound in the area.

Located at the heart of the Bolivian "Chaco", southeast of the city of Santa Cruz towards the Paraguayan border, Kaa Iya with its dry topsoil and its extreme temperature range from hot to cold, is considered one of the world's remote areas. Considered the largest dry tropical forest area in the world, Kaa Iya contains an incredible range of animal species, featuring some of the last remaining large felines, as well as over 100 species of mammals.

The native Isoceño tribe was responsible for the creation of the great "Kaa Iya" National Park, Bolivia's largest, which is crossed by a gas pipeline in the northern section of 140 square kilometers; this Park is considered a new approach to conservation in Bolivia and South America, as it is a protected area cared for by the native population that lives in it.

However, there are also other ethnos that live in the Kaa Iya, such as the ayoreo, chiquitano and especially the isoceño-guarani, who live in the interior and surroundings of the Park. However, the Isoceño people, organized as the "Capitania del Alto y Bajo Izozog" (or CABI), were the driving force in creating the Park. The name Kaa Iya means "Forest Protector" in the Guarani language.

The fund enables them to put into practice the techniques of sustainable development that, based on their centuries of accumulated wisdom, will ensure that Kaa Iya's future will be as fruitful as its past. The success of the Isoceños in running Great Chaco's Kaa Iya National Park proves to the rest of Latin America that the most enterprising managers of protected areas are precisely the people who have been doing just that for centuries, making them the "Original Forest Protectors".

Great Chaco's Kaa-Iya National Park is an extremely arid and sparsely inhabited territory; it receives less than 500 mm of rainfall a year on average; the daytime temperatures routinely go above 32 °Celsius.

Despite the Park's arid climate, it is a refuge for jaguars (Onca de Panthera), peccaries (Wagneri de Catagonus), and the "Chacoan" guanacos (guanicoe). We can also find here giant armadillos (Giganteus de Priodontes), deer (Gouazoubira de Mazama), white peccaries (Pecari de Tayassu ), pumas (Puma concolor), tapirs (Terrestris de Tapirus), and diverse reptiles and birds.

Many mammals have adapted to the driest parts of the Chaco, an area where they seem to live almost without water during several months each year. The tapirs, peccaries and deer apparently survive by obtaining water from cacti, while the carnivores such as the jaguar and puma supplement their intake of water with the liquid content of the flesh and blood of their prey.

Kaa Iya is in one of the least scientifically studied areas of South America, and forms a unique eco-system due to its features and the great range of biodiversity in the dry plains area. The Park's surface area is around three and a half million hectares, including the Isoso Baths, the Southeastern Chaco and the dry forest in the Cerrado region in the north.

Here one finds rare species such as the Chancho Quimillero, the Guanaco, the Tatu Chaqueño (dry forest giant armadillo) and major felines. The same is true of the Chaco flora.

THE GREAT AMERICAN CHACO

The Great American Chaco is a vast region of 1 million km2 in the central part of South America, a large part of which is contained within Great Chaco's Kaa Iya National Park, with a clear ecological unity. Argentina, Bolivia and Paraguay share 95% of the Chaco's surface area, with almost 50% of the total corresponding to Argentina. In Paraguay, it covers the Departments (districts) of Pte. Hayes, Boqueron and Alto Paraguay, and in Bolivia, the Departments of Tarija, Chuquisaca and Santa Cruz. The region displays a great diversity of environments, including extensive plains, sierras, major rivers that cut across it, dry and floodplain savannahs, estuaries, marshes, salt flats and a great expanse of diverse types of forests. Due to this, it contains a high diversity of animal and vegetable life, becoming a key area in the preservation of biodiversity.

The mean annual temperature varies from 18 to 28°Celsius, with maximums and minimums of 45 and 0°C, with a good amount of water and generally good soil fertility.

This region has been subjected to a severe process of depletion of natural resources and of its biodiversity, with serious implications for the fragility of ecosystems and for the irreversibility of some processes, originating decreasing welfare levels for its population and a growing emigration.

Facing the need to reverse this trend of impoverishment, preserve the ecosystem and stop the depletion of natural resources, Argentina, Bolivia y Paraguay are considering the Great American Chaco as a single unit for the promotion of Sustainable Development and have expressed need to work jointly within the framework of the International Convention to combat Desertification and Climate Change and promote the Preservation of Biodiversity.

Tourist facilities are really poor, and the services infrastructure for tourism support is minimal, due to which we recommend you to obtain full information and if possible take along equipment of your own.
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