NWS Intern Oliver Talks about Conservation in the Amazon

Oliver Burns

03 Aug 2018

our Intern Oliver spent a week here at NWS to learn more about conservation and how we incorporate it into our itineraries.

With an estimated 20% of the Amazon biome already lost, Oliver looked into the impact this has had on its wildlife, and this is what he found…

The Amazon Rainforest is located in South America and is the largest tropical rainforest on Earth. The Amazon is contained within nine different countries, with Brazil, Peru and Colombia having the greatest access to the forest. It is one of the most diverse and unique regions on Earth with more species being found here than anywhere else, and 75% of these species being unique to the forest.

The Amazon and the wildlife found within are being and have been greatly affected by persistent deforestation. Its estimated that 20% of the Amazon biome has already been lost, with this expected to rise to around 27% by 2030 if the current rate of deforestation continues. Unsurprisingly, the main culprits of this deforestation are the countries that contain the majority of the forest. Brazil contains 60% of the Amazon – more than any other country – and is responsible for 50% of the deforestation that takes place.


Some of the reasons as to why this deforestation occurs are largely due to the fact that firewood is still a very common source of fuel in South America. The land is also cleared for agricultural purposes, on both large and small scale. Biofuels, commonly made of sugarcane, are one of the main things grown on this deforested land. However, the biggest cause of deforestation in every Amazonian country is cattle ranching, with it accounting for 80% of current deforestation levels. Approximately 450,000 square kilometres of deforested Amazon in Brazil are now cattle pastures. Other causes include illegal logging, urbanisation and the expansion of cities.


One of the worst impacts of deforestation in this region is biodiversity loss (the loss of and even extinction of species in a certain habitat). The clearance of trees forces wildlife into ever-smaller patches of land, and in many cases can lead to species becoming endangered and even extinct. When species begin to lose their natural habitat, they are often unable to live in the small patches of forest left behind. 

As a result, these animals become more accessible to hunters and poachers, their numbers begin to dwindle, and as mentioned previously, some eventually go extinct. The giant otter, the jaguar and the South American tapir are considered the “big three” for tourists to see in South America. However, their numbers have diminished, largely due to habitat loss. Other animals at risk include (but are very much not limited to) the red-faced uakari and golden lion tamarin, two of the most endangered monkeys in the entire rainforest.


Here at Natural World Safaris, we visit a number of Amazonian countries, such as Brazil, Peru, and Colombia, and make sure that we frequently monitor the social, economic and environmental impact of our travel operations to ensure we are at the forefront of a sustainable and ethical tourism industry. Furthermore, we support a number of conservation projects worldwide and are an active voice for habitat preservation both in the UK and in our destinations.

Images courtesy of Richard Denyer

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