The Ibera Wetlands are a natural paradise located in northeastern Argentina, about 800 kilometers north of Buenos Aires. Although not as well-known as other tourist destinations in Argentina, these wetlands are remarkable due to the variety of Argentina animals that reside there. Within Ibera’s 13,000 km2 of marshland, visitors will discover caimans, capybaras, swamp deer, pampas deer, howler monkeys, giant otters, anacondas, greater rheas and over 350 species of birds. Currently, the land is protected by the local provincial government and by private organizations like the Conservation Land Trust (CLT). However, beginning in September of this year, an ambitious project has been undertaken to establish the Ibera National Park!
History of the Ibera Wetlands
Since the late 1700s, there has been significant strain on the ecosystem of the Ibera Wetlands. At this time, many ranches, or estancias, were established in the region, and the owners began to kill off the local predatory animals to protect their livestock. Additionally, the demand for exotic animal skins and feathers resulted in the hunting of many of the local animals. Some native species, such as the jaguar, the tapir, the anteater and the collared peccary, disappeared entirely.
In 1983, the government of the Province of Corrientes created the Ibera Provincial Reserve in an effort to protect the ecosystem and wildlife of the wetlands. The CLT, a private initiative created by Douglas Tompkins, is also active in the region, working to protect the wetlands and to reintroduce some of the species that had disappeared from the region. The organization has already successfully released giant anteaters, pampas deer, collared peccaries, and green-winged macaws in the region, and they are currently working on a project to reintroduce the jaguar.
Creation of Ibera National Park
The CLT recently announced it will be donating more than 150,000 hectares of its privately owned land, which, in combination with state-owned lands, will form the new Ibera National Park. The first 23,700 hectares were donated by the CLT on September 23rd, 2016. The rest of the land is to be donated gradually over the next three years. Together, the existing Provincial Park (managed by the government of Corrientes Province) and the new National Park will make Ibera the largest protected area in Argentina.
Written by Michelle Lenze