Most people expect to see many large animals of the Amazon jungle when going to the jungle in Latin America. But in reality the majority of the species are no bigger that birds, squirrels and mice. What makes the tropical jungle is home to more species so special is that there are so many different species and many animals have beautiful colors: The bright yellow, red and blue of the different species of Macaws, the brilliant orange of the Cocks of the Rock, the red and blue of the trogons, the bright green and red of the Quetzals and all the different colors of the numerous song birds. The butterflies, amphibians and snakes may have graceful colors also.
While half of the species on the planet are found in the rainforests of the humid tropical forest of the Amazon and the Andes, the Ecuadorian jungles have the greatest variety of species of them all. As the weather conditions on the equator have much less variation than elsewhere in the Amazon jungle, rain drenched conditions prevail during most of the year, while the dry seasons are short and not really all that dry. Droughts are the main limiting factor to species that need the humid conditions of the tropical forest.
Yasuni National Park and Cuyabeno Wildlife Reserve are the two main Amazon parks of Ecuador, each covering more that 1,500,000 acres of virgin forest. Yasuni is the larger one and has most likely a somewhat greater diversity. However, Cuyabeno is much better for observing fauna. This is cause by the following conditions: Cuyabeno has a network of lakes that are connected by creeks. The importance of this is as follows. When walking through the tropical forest, the contrast between the sky and the of the trees make the latter look almost black and it is very difficult to distinguish fauna.
The number of birds in Cuyabeno is approaching 600 recorded species, while 10 species of monkeys call Cuyabeno home. Most fauna in the humid tropical forest of the Amazon are rather small and many of them spend most of their lives in the canopies of the forest. At 25 – 35 m high, it is quite difficult to distinguish them. Along small rivers, however, the forest tends to be lower and trees have lower branches and many birds like to perch along the river shores. The light can easily penetrate from the opening in the sky created by the river onto the branches and leaves rather than passing through them as is the case in the closed forest. Therefore the mammals are much more visible from the water. Among the Andes-Amazon countries, only the lake areas of the Cuyabeno Wildlife Reserve have such ideal conditions. Closeness to the Andes gives an additional benefit as they are also still home to quite a few Andes species, thus giving Amazon parks close to the Andes mountain chain additional biodiversity .
Water birds and mammals are, of course, less abundant in the more terrestrial rainforest parks. In the wetlands of Cuyabeno, one can find cayman, anacondas and boas, both Amazon dolphin species, capibaras, manatees, and Giant Otters. Of course water birds are quite common, and the park is also known for some of the most famous and infamous fishes, like piranhas, bagres, electric eels, and. while difficult to see, some of the smaller tropical “aquarium” fishes have incredible colors.
The beautiful lakes and slow-flowing connecting small rivers, the outstanding conditions to see wildlife, the great accessibility, and the affordable prices all contribute to the fact that many consider Cuyabeno Wildlife Reserve the greatest national park of the Amazon region. Ecuador is the best country to go, both for researchers and tourists who like to study or simply get to know the Amazon.