Manu is the biggest tropical reserve of the world, it is the only place in the entire world that has tree ecosystems perfectly differentiated: the Puna – a high-altitude, tundra-like area characterized by pale yellow ichu grass, isolated blue lakes and tassel-eared llamas; the cloud forest – a mysterious world bathed in constant mist and inhabited by brilliant-red Cock of the rocks, spectacled bears and scores of dripping tree ferns; and the lowland rainforest – home of the giant black caiman, giant otter, 13 species of monkeys and over 1.000 species of birds (10% of the world’s total). The Manu Biosphere Reserve has largely been protected through the countries both by its remote location and by the presence of native tribes. Manu currently supports four native ethnic groups – two of which are still uncontested - and protects 4.646.564 acres (1.881.200 hectares) of land. One half the size of Switzerland, Manu is perhaps the most species-rich protected area to be found anywhere on earth.
In the highest zones the temperature varies between 37.4 ºF and 42.8 ºF. In the lower region the average annual temperature is approximately 75.2 ºF.
The great altitudinal variation allows the existence of a large variety or plant species and forms, estimated at between 2000 and 5000 species of flowering plants. As a means of reference, 179 species of orchids have been registered in the cloud forest.
The great diversity of ecosystems has permitted the development of one of the workd’s largest examples of fauna diversity.
The National Park of The Manu is home to a large variety of birds, mammals, reptiles and amphibians, as well as invertebrates.
Two hundred species of mammals have been identified (about 40% of the total number of mammals in Peru). The birds constitute an extremely important community of admirable variety that exceeds 1000 species.
Permanent human habitation is restricted to several small communities of the Matsigenga Amazonian tribal group, largely along the Manú river or one of its main tributaries. Several protected areas adjoining the park allow mixed use including tourism, hunting, logging, and harvesting of other resources. These areas, notably downstream on the Manú River, are included in the broader Manú biosphere reserve, but are not part of the national park.
Visitors within the national park include medical and educational professionals upon invitation by the indigenous community, and researchers with permits from INRENA. The Cocha Cashu Biological Station, under the guidance of renowned Duke University ecologist John Terborgh is the largest and most established research site in the park, and is among the most well-studied sites for biological and ecological research in the tropics.
Manu biosphere reserve description
Manú National Park is a biosphere reserve located in Madre de Dios and Paucartambo, Cusco. Before becoming an area protected by the Peruvian government, the Manú National Park was conserved thanks to its inaccessibility. The park remains fairly inaccessible by road to this day. In 1977, UNESCO recognised it as a Reserve of Biosphere and in 1987, it was pronounced a World Heritage Site. It is the largest National Park in Peru, covering an area of 15,328 km². The Biosphere Reserve includes an additional 2,570 km², and a further 914 km² are included in a "Cultural Zone" (which also is afforded a level of protection), bringing the total area up to 18,811 km².
The park protects several ecological zones ranging from as low as 150 meters above sea level in parts of the Amazon Basin to Puna grassland at altitudes of 4200 meters. Because of this topographical range, it has one of highest levels of biodiversity of any park in the world. Overall, more than 15,000 species of plants are found in Manú, and up to 250 varieties of trees have been found in a single hectare. The reserve is a destination for birdwatchers from all over the world, as it is home to over 800 species of birds, nearly the total for all of North America.