Saturday, June 21, 2014

Emas National Park, Goiás, Brazil!

Photo by rotabrasil

The Emas National Park is located between the states of Goiás and Mato Grosso do Sul in the Center-West Region of Brazil. Literally meaning "rhea National Park". With an area of about 132 thousand hectares, covers part of the municipalities of Mineiros, Chapadão do Céu and Serranópolis in the State of Goiás, and Costa Rica, in the State of Mato Grosso do Sul. Due to its length, integrity of habitat, richness of fauna and presence of rare and threatened species, the reserve is one of the most important protected areas of the cerrado biome. It has recently been included in the priority actions for biodiversity conservation in the Cerrado and Pantanal and a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

At well over 1000 square kilometers of rolling grassy fields and patches of swamp forest, the park is home to a variety of large mammals, including puma, ocelot, collared peccary, white-lipped peccary, marsh deer, red brocket, gray brocket, black howler monkey, capybara, Maned wolf, Brazilian Tapir, and Giant Anteater, and it also shelters a number of threatened bird species, including the recently rediscovered Cone-Billed Tanager. But while the promise of Emas is indeed great, the bounty of the site highly dependent on season and luck, and access tightly controlled by the inclinations of a guide.

Emas National Park also holds a small jaguar population, perhaps consisting of about 10-12 animals. Only about 40% of the reserve is a good Jaguar habitat.

Photo by Andre Pessoa

Photo by André Pessoa
Here it's the namesake greater rhea:

Photo by rotabrasil

In fact, almost the entire park was wiped out by fire in 2010, decimating the once thriving Giant Anteater population. These burned areas are excellent places to find terrestrial birds that normally secret themselves away deep in the tall grass, including Ocellated Crake and Lesser Nothura, but they have also become stages for adaptation, as Coal-Crested Finch, Campo Miner, and White-Winged Nightjar have all evolved to utilize recently burned areas for different biological purposes. Towards the end of the dry season, diverse flocks of migratory seedeaters in breeding plumage surge through the park, including rarities such as Rufous-Rumped, Chestnut, Dark-Throated, and Black-Bellied Seedeaters.(BirdingBrazil)

Cerrado is the biome that covers the sprawling Planalto Central, the central plains of Brazil. It consists of several different habitat types. So unique is Cerrado that several of the Portuguese words for the habitat types have been adapted to English. Grasslands, or campo, cover much of the region. Campo sujo has shorter grass and sparse woody vegetation. Woodlands of short, twisted tree with waxy leaves and cork-like bark make up cerrado, not to be confused with Cerrado, the biome name. Gallery forests are moist forests that follow the watercourses. Some 90% of the plant and animal species of the Cerrado are found in the gallery forests. 

Indaiá Palm trees. Photo by aceleragoias
The park holds the greatest concentration of Blue-and-Yellow Macaws outside Amazonia, and blue-winged, red-shouldered and red-bellied Macaws can also be seen. The park headquarters building for scientists are visited daily by a pair of bare-faced currasows, white Woodpeckers, streamer-tailed Tyrants and other showy birds. 
In addition to the mammals and large birds, the park is known for other bird specialties. (visit: focustours)

The cupinzeiros (tall termites houses)

In the early stages of the rainy season the cupinzeiros (termites houses) perform the bio-luminescence phenomenon which consists in the irradiation of a blue greenish phosphorescent light, produced by small larvae stuck to the leafs in search for food. The result is a very beautiful night show. 

Photo Flickr by Cristina Morita

Photo by rotabrasil

Photo by aceleragoias
This park holds the largest concentration of cupinzeiros per square metre in the whole world. In about 25 million registered termites houses in preserved area, the fireflies were a sideshow, especially during spring nights. Between the holes dug in a kind of "natural building", insect larvae emit an intense greenish light and give a show to form different lighting points.

The Emas National Park is a place that requires different observation, attentive to detail, and use sensitivity to perceive the richness of life adjustments such as the Indaiá palm trees with trunks buried or trees with very thick bark to resist fire that selects life natural and at the same time makes everything grow again. 

For all this diversity, gets to be frustrating leave the park knowing that knew very little of what nature presents there. Even those who live on site and research about it, know  they don't know the Cerrado, and not knowing is an exciting feature an exciting mystery.

Visitation: With the payment of an entrance fee of R$ 6,00 (for local people) and R$13,00 for tourists, you can visit a restricted area of ​​the park without tracking guide. But the rides are more productive by hiring a good local guide who helps the tourist in the observation and interpretation of natural diversity. The municipal authorities inform the phones associations of guides. The Visitation and the need of the guide must be checked in advance, because of the impending change of management plan.

There are three types of ride / observation: 

1. Interpretive trail: identification of animals by the tracks, feces and food consumed; identification of vegetation. 

2. Motorized trail: by bus or car, for observation of animals hidden in the cerrado and those who do not have time to hide with a faster approach than in hiking. 

3. Hiking in the woods or field: where you can touch the nature, feel the way to see up close birds, lizards, armadillos, anteaters and other animals.

The trails at Parque das Emas are very extensive - some with more than 40 km, and must be traveled by car. Currently incursions walking is not allowed on some trails; overnight in the park is also not allowed, but the tourists have lodging structure in the park nearby farms and guesthouses. 

The Formoso River, and other rivers, provide conditions for canoeing and rafting outside the park boundaries. There are conservation areas outside the park that also deserve to be visited.

Cross float in Formoso River 

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