A multinational team of scientists is now in Guyana under the auspices of the World Wildlife Fund (WWF-Guianas), to gather data on the biodiversity of the South Rupununi, home to over 1400 species of vertebrates, including many highly endangered globally.
A WWF-Guianas release today said that the Southern Rupununi Biodiversity Assessment Team (BAT) is made up of Guyanese and international scientists who have expertise in the detection and identification of plants, birds, reptiles, mammals, amphibians, insects and fish along with water quality and community resource uses.
The high bio-diversity of the Rupununi flows from the mixing of Amazonian and Guiana Shield fauna, high habitat diversity, and marked seasonal flooding.
The WWF-Guianas release said that until recently, the region has been protected by its relative isolation.
“However, that is changing rapidly, mainly due to improved overland access from Georgetown, a bridge across the Takutu River, which links Guyana to Brazil, and increasing interest in the region for gold mining, petroleum extraction, and large-scale agriculture. These developments are perceived to be already threatening the spectacular wildlife and natural habitats of the Rupununi, as well as traditional ways of life of the communities”, the release said.
The release lamented that despite its reported high diversity and unique species composition, biological data from the southern part of the Rupununi is scarce. As the pressure to rapidly develop the region increases, WWF Country Manager, Dr. Patrick Williams, said in the release that it is vital to have a good baseline of species and habitat data of the Southern Rupununi in order to make sound management and conservation decisions.