Manu Wildlife in the Manu National Park- Manu Peru

 

Manu National Park is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, Biosphere Reserve, and the biggest protected area in Peru. It covers more than 18,000 square kilometers of high elevation tropical forests, cloud forest, lowland rainforest, oxbow lakes, and lowland jungle rivers that are brimming with life. The huge number of species that occur in Manu make it the most biodiverse protected area on the planet and it is this large number of plant and animal species that helped it earn its status as a Heritage Site and Biosphere Reserve.

Various Habitats of Manu National Park, Peru

 

Different habitats increase the number of species in a given area. It’s no surprise that Manu has a number of habitats including the following that may be encountered on a Manu trip:

 

  • Huge areas of primary, lowland rainforest: The lowland parts of Manu are covered in old growth Amazonian rainforest with massive trees that reach heights of 40 meters (120 feet) and even 60 meters (180 feet).

  • Floodplain forests: These are rainforests near rivers that flood for part of the year. They provide a different type of habitat than forests in hilly areas and support a different variety of plant and animal species.

  • Palm swamp forest: Large “Aguaje” palms dominate some poorly drained areas and act as important nesting sites for Blue and gold Macaws, frogs, and other animals.

  • Bamboo groves: Bamboo grows in some parts of Manu and hosts a certain assemblage of unique birds, insects, amphibians, and so on.

  • Oxbow lakes: These are still lakes with dark, tannin-colored waters, and a slow current. They form as sections of rivers are cut off from the main channel and act as very important habitat for Black Caiman, Giant Otters, Hoatzins, and many other signature Amazonian animals.

  • Cloud forest: Higher elevations of the park host lush tropical forests where the trees are covered in moss, bromeliads, and other plants. Many beautiful bird species, including several hummingbirds, live in this part of Manu.

  • Stunted forest: These are dense tropical forests that are short in stature and are found near the treeline at high elevations.

  • Paramo: This refers to the open areas with very short vegetation that grow above the treeline.

 

 

Animals and plants of Manu

 

A huge number of animals and plant species occur in Manu. No Manu tour can see all of them but you may see some of the following signature species:

 

Birds: Over 1,000 species of birds live in Manu National Park:

 

  • Hoatzin: This strange bird eats leaves, smells bad, and can hardly fly. The young have claws on their wings to help them climb through their lakeside vegetation habitat.

  • Harpy Eagle: A massive eagle with huge talons and an over-sized head, it catches sloths, monkeys, and other large prey. It is rarely seen because each eagle hunts over a large area.

  • Macaws: Manu hosts seven species of these huge, spectacular, brightly colored parrots. Most are commonly seen during visits to Manu, including big Red and Green Macaws that visit a clay lick in the park.

  • Tanagers: Several of these brightly colored, small birds live in the park.   

 

Mammals: 222 mammal species live in Manu:

 

  • Giant Otter: This five foot (1.5 meter) long aquatic weasel is a star mammal of Manu. It has disappeared from many other parts of the Amazon basin but is often seen on oxbow lakes in the park.

  • Jaguar: Good populations of this large spotted cat live in Manu. It is shy but sometimes seen on the edge of the river or at clay licks by the luckiest of visitors.

  • Amazonian Tapir: The tapir is the biggest mammal in Manu and is sometimes seen at mammal clay licks and at the edges of rivers.

  • Monkeys: 14 species of monkeys live in Manu including the tiny Pygmy Marmoset, the rare Goeldi’s Marmoset, and the cute Black-capped Squirrel Monkey.

 

Reptiles and amphibians: Manu National Park harbors 239 species:

 

  • Anaconda: One of the world’s biggest snakes, this huge boa can grow to lengths of 6 meters (18 feet) or more and in Manu, frequents oxbow lakes and other wetlands. Count yourself lucky to see one because it is a shy animal.

  • Caimans: At least four caiman species live in Manu but just two are seen with regularity. The Spectacled is small and sometimes seen in oxbow lakes and along the edges of rivers. The Black Caiman can grow to a length of 5 meters (15 feet) and is sometimes observed in oxbow lakes.

  • Yellow-spotted River Turtle: Watch for this turtle with yellow spots on its head as it suns itself on logs and driftwood that stick up out of the water.

  • Frogs: From tiny, brightly colored poison dart frogs to strange treefrogs that call from rainforest trees, Manu is an excellent place to see a variety of frog species, especially during night hikes.

 

 

Insects: More than 50,000 species of insects probably live in Manu, the full number of species that occur in the park is unknown because many insect species live in small areas and are difficult to survey.

 

  • Morpho butterflies: There are several big, bright blue Morpho butterfly species in Manu along with a total of an incredible 1300 butterfly species.

  • Katydids: Hundreds of katydid species occur in the rainforests of Manu and many are commonly seen on night hikes. They have long antennae and amazing camouflage.

  • Leafcutter Ants: Endless lines of Leafcutter Ants are a common sight in Manu. They carry bits of leaves to underground nests to cultivate and consume a certain type of fungus.

  • Dung Beetles: Several species of iridescent green and blue Dung Beetles live in Manu. These beetles roll bits of dung along the forest floor to eventually make a nest with food for their offspring.

 

Plants: Over 20,000 species of plants occur in Manu.

 

  • Ceiba tree: This massive, rainforest giant can grow to heights of more than 70 meters (210 feet) and has an unbelievable girth.

  • Palms: Dozens of palm species live in the forests of Manu. Some are small understory plants and others are big, impressive trees used by macaws for nesting.

  • Bamboo: Groves of native Guadua bamboo species are found along rivers and near oxbow lakes.

  • Balsa: This is a common tree along the shores of rivers and near oxbow lakes. Its wood weighs very little because it grows so fast.

 

Listen to the guide and pay close attention to your rainforest surroundings to see wildlife on your exciting Amazon Peru Tour!