|WILDLIFE: A DRAW FOR
Macaws provide a great incentive for tourism in Manu. While pursuing the ingestion of clay on the riverside clay licks, they congregate in large numbers, providing visitors with a spectacular display of color and sound. The clay licks alone, discovered within the last few decades, are a great boon to Manu's fame.
Also of interest to tourists is the giant otter, the world's only social mustelid. My research has shown that when systematically accustomed to the presence of human observers, giant otters are very viewable from close range for hours each day. The big cats are more prevalent in the Reserve Zone. Manu Wildlife Center reports that over 10% of their guests are able to observe jaguars, a percentage unrivaled elsewhere in the Neotropics.
Despite the generally excellent protection afforded Manu by World Wildlife-funded guards and by their patrols, many problems still exist in this seemingly remote paradise. Several competing agendas within Peru are coming to bear on Manu's future. Colonists from the highlands are constantly encroaching on park boundaries, while oil and mining concerns have their eyes on the region. The park's boundaries have never been adequately mapped, and government funding from Lima remains tenuous. The future of the Indians within the park is by no means assured, and even the self-sustained funding possible through ecotourism will have its effects on the indigenous inhabitants and regional wildlife. In terms of renewable resources, however, tourism does seem to be the most viable plan for park and regional development.
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