The Rupununi Savannah is one of Guyana’s most unique and diverse ecosystems and among the last great wilderness areas on Earth. It is home to more than 9,000 species, including about 2,000 vertebrates and many species that are highly endangered globally. The Rupununi Savannah has been the home to and the source of livelihood for indigenous peoples for millennia, as well as dozens of cattle ranches beginning in the late 19th century. Until recently, the region’s ecosystems have been protected by its isolation. Increasing interest in the region for gold mining, petroleum extraction, and large-scale agriculture, however, is beginning to threaten the spectacular wildlife and natural habitats of the Rupununi.
The Rupununi Savannah is divided into two near equally sized parts by the Kanuku Mountains—the North and South Rupununi. Despite a reportedly high diversity and unique species composition, biological data, particularly from the southern Rupununi are still lacking. As pressure to “develop” the region increases, it is essential to have a strong baseline of species and habitat information for the Southern Rupununi in order to make sound management and conservation decisions.
World Wildlife Fund-Guianas (WWF-Guianas) and Global Wildlife Conservation (GWC) carried out the Southern Rupununi Biodiversity Assessment Team (BAT) expedition to get a snapshot of the region’s diversity, collecting data on seven taxonomic groups (mammals, birds, reptiles, amphibians, fish, insects and plants) as well as water quality and natural resource use. This information establishes a baseline that stakeholders including the Government of Guyana, the University of Guyana, NGOs, local communities and businesses can use to make informed decisions about sustainable management of the Rupununi’s resources.
Savannah, forest, and wetland
Guyana, South America