Exploring New Areas of Incredible Biodiversity
Despite its pristine appearance, the Rewa Head in Guyana had never been explored scientifically to assess its conservation significance. When a ZSL scientist travelled there to collect DNA from the giant otter, he and his team seized the opportunity to record the fauna along 60 river miles using camera traps, mist-nets and drift surveys.
Results revealed an incredible wealth of biodiversity. In total, thirty-three mammal species were recorded, including all eight of Guyana’s monkey species, four of the five felid species, bush dog, giant armadillo, giant anteater and Brazilian tapir. One hundred and eighty-seven bird species were identified, including ten endemics and the rare and charismatic harpy and crested eagles. The team also saw evidence of the yellow-footed tortoise, Goliath bird-eating spiders and found five green anacondas over 15 feet long. In total, 50 per cent of Guyana’s threatened species were observed.
The results of this brief survey showed the area to be incredibly biologically rich and an important region for threatened lowland rainforest and riparian fauna. However, the Rewa Head is in a precarious state as it is currently unprotected. While the government recently outlawed small-scale gold mining after intervention from Amerindian communities, the area constitutes a logging concession that may be developed unless Guyana is given alternative financing incentives. The Rewa Head thus presents a perfect test case for implementing carbon projects, and protecting it addresses several key international issues.