Tourism and Conservation in Panama

Panama’s wildlife is just stunning – 10’444 different types of plant species, 678 fern species, 1’500 varieties of trees, as well as 255 species of mammals and 972 indigenous bird species. There is a history behind this rich biodiversity, let’s start from the very beginning: Everything started 65 million years ago; the two continents, North and South America were joined by a land bridge, as we know it from today. Then, around 50 million years ago, the continents split apart, and for millions of years they kept separate from one another. This allowed mother nature to create unique and fascinating landscapes in both continents. The land of South America soon gave rise to a numerous species, such as bird families, neo-tropical rodents, iguanas, frogs and more. In North America, animals such as horses, deer, raccoons, squirrels and mice flourished, as the continent repeatedly collided with Eurasia.

Three million years ago happened the world change!   The natural history for both continents: The land bridge of Panama arose. Migration started and species from North America went south and from South America north, where they found their homes in the lush forest and wetlands along the isthmus. The great variety of plant species created the perfect conditions for nourishing wildlife including the Jaguar.

‘Yaguará’ is a Panamanian Foundation that works towards the conservation of  wild cats. They are studying the Jaguar’s behavior through placing cameras and GPS Collars, in order to develop conservation in the jaguar habitats. They also directly work with the local communities, which has proved to be very important and successful to immediately apply conservation of this beautiful mammals.

Ricardo Moreno who has been nominated by National Geographic as an emergent explorer, is a Panamanian biologist and one of the the leader of  Fundación Yaguara. He fights for the conservation of the Jaguar and the Puma in Panama, and says that “the situation is critical, and there is no time to wait. It is important to create a pacific cohabitation between mankind and the felines.”

The conflicts between Felines and humans arose because their natural prey was scarce, due to human activities such as hunting and habitat occupation, threrefore the cats attacked livestock’s. Unfortunately, people used to “solve” the situation by just sacrificing the felines, and this caused a serious fall in jaguar’s populations in the Mesoamerican Biological Corridor and Panama. Several studies showed that if the cats had enough natural prey, they wouldn’t attack livestock.

“Yaguará” started a program which gives a monetary compensation to the owners of domestic animals, if their animals were preyed.  They also support the local communities by educating in learning to live with the jaguars and avoid killing them.   The communities could take benefit from conserving the natural habitats and supporting the trend in the tourism industry:  Adventure and Conservation.

Academic and Educational adventures are a way to discover Panama and learn about the efforts of several scientists, guides and tour companies that promote the restoration of our natural habitats.   In conjunction with different organizations such as STRI, Fundacion Avifauna, APTSO, YAGUARA among others EcoCircuitos is promoting Tourism, Conservation and Education.

Explore with the experts in the field and discover a country full of contrasts.  You can contribute to the conservation and efforts of this organization and others by traveling responsable.

For more information contact us info@ecocircuitos.com

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Unforgetable Transit the Panama Canal

By Etienne Kaya – French intern

I would like to say thanks to EcoCircuitos Panama and Panama Marine Adventures for this great experience adventure!   My tour started in the morning at the Flamenco Resort and Marina.  Passengers board motor coaches for a 45 minute ride to the town of Gamboa, a scenic road in the watershed and close to Soberania National Park. Once in Gamboa, we board the Pacific Queen Yacht boat to start the adventure. During the transit it is possible to see the continuous maintenance that this area requires, because it is very susceptible to landslides. In this area I also observe the work in process for the Panama Canal expansion project. Before to enter Pedro Miguel Locks I see the new Centennial Bridge wich is beautiful engineering piece. Then I enter Miraflores Lake, which is a small artificial body of fresh water that separates Pedro Miguel from Miraflores Locks. At Miraflores Locks the vessel is lowered 18 meters in two distinct steps. Once in the Pacific Ocean the vessel sail to the beautiful Flamenco Marina where passengers disembark. On the way to Flamenco, we pass under the Bridge of the Americas, and later, at the moment it is possible to admire the Bay of Panama and Panama City’s splendorous skyline. Staff was extremely professional and knowledgeable. The guide was so well-informed about the details of the Canal. For example the most expensive regular toll for canal passage to date was charged on May 16, 2008 to the Disney Magic, which paid US $331,200. The least expensive toll was 36 cents to American adventurer Richard Halliburton, who swam the canal in 1928.  What a fantastic and memorable tour!

My Stay In Panama

By Antoine Oudot – French Intern

Antoine Oudot exploring Panama

It is a little bit hard to describe my Panamenian internship with Ecocircuitos. This is a amazing country, small, but with the richest flora and fauna I have ever seen.

When I arrived there I did not know anything about Central America and this country. As so many French people, I only knew the famous Panama canal. Moreover, my Spanish was not so good. When I arrived there I was of course stressed. But Panamenians were pleased to welcome me. They have a very good sense of hospitality. Then, my adaptation into the company was easy. Annie was glad to welcome me in EcoCircuitos and the staff shows me everything.

A week later, I started to discover the magical country. My first trip was to the Azuero Peninsula. I fell in love with the area. I have visited Chitré, Las Tablas famous for the Carnival, and finally Isla Iguana (for me it’s my paradise on earth).

I had the opportunity to visit, and discover Panama. I explore to the highlands on the western side of Panama and the beautiful and picturesque town of Boquete . The town of Boquete is very famous for the quality of life and I can say: Of course life there, is sweet!

I have visited Bocas del Toro on the Caribbean side and taste the gastronomy of this side of the country… spicy.  I have hike the Soberania national Park, f the jungle between the Caribbean and the Pacific side.

Thanks to my internship, I have met beautiful local communities that has  showed me their way of life, I have learn a lot about their connection with nature and why is important to preserve the tropical forests.  I learn about the biodiversity of Panama and the efforts for preserving the land and cultures as the Kuna people.

During my internship I lived in Panama for more than 4 months in the city of Panama.   The city, shows us the evolution of the country by the different neigbourhoods: From the Casco Viejo, with the colonial area, to the new CDB. Finally I was suprised to discover that the capital is a melting pot,where you’ll meet people coming from all over the world and that’s what it makes the capital so attractive, in an enthusiastic atmosphere!

But what would be Panama without the famous canal. It was very interesting to discover all the engineering, and the process, to build this waterway.

What I will remember all my life are the mammals, especially the monkeys and the toucans. I’ve never seen them before in own environment!

Thanks to EcoCircuitos & their team I won’t forget this unique experience in this great country:  Panama!