Amazon Conservation Ranch
Protecting flora and fauna by private ownershipGuarding the integrity and natural diversity of the Amazon Basin is an essential task, but government-declared National Parks and NGO-sponsored projects are more for show than conservation. Only concerned, private ownership can guarantee the safety of this land with its precious forests and wildlife.
Our ranch extends over some 188 square kilometers (73 square miles) of forests and savanah in the tropical lowlands of Northeast Bolivia. Because it is both a profitable cattle ranch and assures strict conservation, it might be of interest as an example: others could certainly implement the same methods.
About the Ranch
Written from the Ranch
How to get here
Why private ownership
Why the Bolivian Amazon can still be saved
About the Ranch
Maned wolf - Image courtesy
Our land includes both virgin forests and open savannah that was always grassland and never de-forested. On part of the grassland we raise cattle without using any feeds pesticides or fertilizers. We do not touch the forests and allow no hunting whatsoever : we absorb the occasional losses of cattle to jaguars and anacondas. We have found that if there is no hunting, our cattle are mostly left alone by jaguars. which have plenty of other prey starting with the collared peccary (tayassu tajacu) and deer (mazama americana). We do fish, and the abundance of delicious piranha supplies any possible food needs. We employ only local people, and our relations with the indigenous population are excellent.
We welcome visitors. See where we are and learn how to get here
Ranch Tupinamba is owned by Servicios Agricolas Tupinamba 2002 S.A. In the US, contact Edward Luttwak.
Several national parks have recently been proclaimed in the Amazon
basin, but none is effectively protected. The guards are few, poorly
paid, and hardly supervised--they themselves often facilitate illegal
logging and hunting for small tips. National parks that exist only on
paper are actually worse than nothing at all: before, the land belonged to someone,
forest-dwelling natives or at least colonist-squatters who might shoot all they could eat but would deter fun hunting by others. Once the park is established, the land belongs to "the public", ie., to no-one in
particular. Everyone goes in to take what he can, valuable timber,
jaguars and ocelots for their pelts, rare birds for the black market. In Santa Cruz, increasingly rare tucans and macaws are always on sale illegally but openly, at street corners. They invariably come from the National Park, where they were trapped by the guards.
Jaguar (Image provided courtesy of Jungle Photos)
Very few NGOs even try to protect land. When they do so, they do it by funding local NGOs to act for them. That assures a pleasingly local , sometimes even an indigenous identity. But their university-trained, English-speaking staff which resides in the big cities do not themselves guard the remote protected lands, indeed they only rarely visit. Instead they pass small sums to local guards, who are not supervised. Effective protection is impossible by such means.
Peacock bass - Tucunare to the locals
Amazonic Bolivia is safe. There are no guerillas or bandits and the narcotics trade, if present at all, is invisible and totally non-violent. There is less crime in our part of Bolivia than in most parts of Europe or the United States: we never lock our doors and need no guns.
Lands can be effectively protected at low cost. Our experience with local employees is that fair treatment and adequate supervision evoke loyalty to our venture. The younger generation is ecologically sensitive and needs no instruction in protecting nature
The Beni region (departemento) of Bolivia with its vast tracts of intact tropical forest, is among the last refuges of wildlife of the Amazon basin; species now very rare or extinct elsewhere still flourish, including the maned wolf (chrysocyon brachyurus), the elusive "bush dog" (speothos venaticus), the ocelot (felis pardalis), the more common jaguar (panthera onca); puma (felis concolor); paraguayan fox (dusicyon gymnocercus); kinkajou (potos flavus); tayra (eira barbara); and jaguarundi (felis yagouaroundi); the tapir (tapirus terrestris); deer (mazama americana), owl monkey (aotus trivirgatus), squirrel monkey (ateles geoffroyi), wooly monkey (lagothrix lagothricha); giant anteater (myrmecophaga tridactyla); and spotted paca (agouti paca) among many other mammals.
There is a similar prevalence of reptiles and a huge variety of birds.
Wildlife commonly seen includes alligators, families of
capybaras, huge pink river dolphins (inia geoffrensis) macaws,
parrots, and the ostrich-like Rhea. Among the great variety of fish,
the most notable are the Tucunare' (peacock bass) the very big Arapima
gigas, Sorubim lima, Hoplias malabaricus Pygocentrus nattereri
(Redbellied Piranha), Serrasalmus rhombeus (Black Piranha), and
Serrasalmus elongatus (Elongate Piranha).
Pink River Dolphin
We are especially interested in finding buyers for lands around our ranch, to add to its conservation value: wide-ranging Jaguars especially require more land than we have. But we can also help with the purchase of fully Amazonic rainforests in the northern Beni and the Pando departenento.
We can ourselves conduct or assist the entire process, from initial exploration with maps and photos, through topographic survey by an officially authorized surveyor with GPS measurements (a legal requirement to secure title), the legal investigation of any other ownership or indigenous rights' claims, the definition of title, the payment of property transfer taxes, the issue of the final official title by the government's land authority (INRA); and the erection of all-round fencing with gates , which is also legally required. The commercial side of the procedure is to first negotiate a price per hectare, determining the total amount only when the geodesic measurement is completed.
We exclude from consideration any land that is near villages or
potentially attractive to settlers or subject to any
indigenous rights or claims. Fortunately, the population of the Beni is so low that such necessary exclusions still leave vast tracts of intact forest and savannah.
Nobody should contemplate any purchase without first visiting tropical Bolivia and the specific tract of land That requires the use of light aircraft. boats, horses erc. We can organize such visits at cost.
Continuing Ownership and Operation
Owners are legally required to fence their property and pay a small annual municipal land tax of roughly US$0.50 per hectare (US$ 20 cents/acre).
If requested, we are ready to assume responsibility for the above and /or to provide continuing protection with our supervised staff, each of whom we know personally. We can also build attractively and cheaply for private holiday use, fishing or eco-tourism. In savannah areas, where low-density, natural cattle raising is inherently profitable, we can equip, staff, and supervise cattle operations on the model of our own San Joaquin ranch and subject to the same environmental restrictions.