Iténez-Mamoré binational Corridor

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Aerial view of Iténez Protected Area (Bolivian Amazon)
© WWF Bolivia / Gustavo YBARRA

Iténez Protected Area

Within the Iténez-Mamoré bi-national Corridor Bolivian Amazon sub-region, WWF is specifically supporting Iténez Protected Area.

The Iténez-Mamoré bi-national Corridor
This Corridor, located on the Bolivian-Brazilian border along the Iténez and Mamoré Rivers, shelters an important and impressive diversity of fish, important populations of giant river otter, river dolphin, and birds, among others. The CIM is of vital importance to guarantee the connectivity between protected areas and other natural resource management units in both countries.

Iténez Protected Area

The Iténez River borders the Iténez Protected Area (PA) on its east side, and is located in the northeastern portion of the Department of Beni (Bolivia), in the municipalities of Magdalena and Baures in the Iténez Province, on the international border between Bolivia and Brazil. This PA has a surface of 1,389,025 ha.

This PA has the following ecosystems:

  • humid forests (50%)
  • savannahs (28.6%)
  • river forests (9.7%)
  • rivers and lakes (6.4%)
  • island forests (3.1%)
  • others (1.9%)

Up to date, studies carried out register 490 species of flora and 714 of fauna (74 mammals, 360 birds, 45 reptiles, 42 amphibians and 192 fish).

Iténez PA is inhabited by various indigenous and peasant communities, mainly immigrants from the Department of Beni itself. There are traditional organizational structures like the Itonama and Peasant Subcentrals. 14 communities inhabit Iténez PA.

It is likely that the Iténez River Watershed is the most important bastion for the river dolphin (Inia boliviensis), as it is for other aquatic mammal species like the giant river otter (Pteronura brasiliensis).
 

WWF Bolivia’s projects at Iténez Protected Area

 / ©: Fernando Trujillo / Fundación Omacha
Pink river dolphin, Inia geoffrensis, Orinoco river, Colombia.
© Fernando Trujillo / Fundación Omacha
With funds from WWF US / Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation and WWF Sweden / Sida, through the Departmental Government of the Beni, the FaunAgua Association and the Institute for Man, Agriculture and Ecology (Iphae), WWF is contributing to the management of this area with:
  • Operational funds for strengthening the Protected Areas’ Office of the Beni Departmental Government, as well as the Iténez PA Office
  • Infrastructure and equipment for the basic running and operation of the protected area
  • Support in the management of hydro-biological resources
  • Promotion of the sound management of natural resources in the Iténez Protected Area’s communities
  • Information and development of organizational capacities for communities.
     

The Inia boliviensis
River dolphins were discovered by the French researcher Alcide D'Orbigny in 1832, during his last trip to South America when he traveled along the Iténez River (Beni). At that time, D’Orbigny named this Dolphin Inia boliviensis, species that later on was given the name Inia geoffrensis.

The Pink dolphin (known in Bolivia as Bufeo) is the largest freshwater Dolphin in the world. It can reach up to 2.8 m long and weigh 180 kg. In Latin America, this species is widely distributed in the Amazon and Orinoco watersheds (Colombia, Venezuela, Brazil, Bolivia, Ecuador and Peru). In Bolivia, it is found in Amazon Watershed rivers in the departments of Cochabamba, Santa Cruz, Beni and Pando.

The rocky irregularities – known as ‘cachuelas’ – along the Madeira River – only a few kilometers from where the Mamoré River meets the Beni River – have isolated the Bufeo in Bolivia, making its evolution as a species different from Inia geoffrensis possible: the Inia boliviensis. Scientists have found that this Bolivian species has more teeth, a larger body and a smaller scull, compared to Inia geoffrensis.

Thus, currently there are two identified Pink dolphin species: Inia boliviensis and Inia geoffrensis. This latter has two sub-species: Inia geoffrensis geoffrensis in the Amazon and Inia geoffrensis humboldtiana in the Orinoquia.

The Inia boliviensis is an endemic species of the Upper Madeira River Watershed, mainly found in Bolivia (Madeira is the river that conducts the Bolivian waters to the Amazon). This species is very showy and has potential for becoming an emblematic species for the region, as a tourism and conservation ambassador.
 

The Bolivian Amazon river dolphin in the Itenez river

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