Piagacu-Purus, Brazil

Piagacu-Purus, Brazil Photo
©Eduardo Venticinque

Vast swaths of this landscape’s intact tropical forests include more than 8,000 square miles of seasonally flooded forests. This dynamic ecosystem creates habitats for a great variety of wildlife, such as freshwater dolphins, river otters, monkeys, waterbirds, fish, frogs, turtles, caimans, snakes, and many other species.

Fast Facts

  • The Piagaçu-Purus landscape covers 3,900 square miles of white- and black-water flooded forests and dry upland forest.
  • The Purus River is a tributary of the Amazon; its drainage basin covers nearly 25,000 square miles.


This flooded forest landscape lies near Manaus, capital of the state of Amazonas. As a result, it faces increasing pressure from fishing, hunting, logging, and other human activities. The river’s large fish populations and caiman- and turtle-hatching sites attract illegal exploitation of wildlife for commercial sale. Reconstruction of the Manaus-Porto Velho highway will make it easier for outsiders to illegally access the Piagaçu-Purus reserve.

WCS Responds

With support from WCS, scientists and technicians conducted an expedition in 2001 to the lower Purus River to document the region’s biodiversity and assess  the socio-economic situation  of the local people. As a result of this work, the state of Amazonas created the Piagaçu-Purus Sustainable Development Reserve in 2003. In July 2009, WCS scientists and their partners announced the discovery of Mura's saddleback tamarin in this region. This small monkey was named after the Mura Indians, the Amerindian ethnic group that lives in the Purus and Madeira river basins where the primate occurs.

WCS conservationists are surveying the areas along highway BR 319 to estimate the numbers of medium and large mammals and the natural fluctuations of their populations. We continue to work with the Instituto Piagaçu, providing technical and financial resources to ensure that Piagaçu-Purus remains a haven for wildlife and a source of valuable natural resources for local communities.

From the Newsroom

Amazon Waters: Conserving Wildlife, Securing LivelihoodsApril 29, 2013

Dr. Julie Kunen, Director of WCS’s Latin America and Caribbean Program, describes the value of Amazon waters to the lives of millions of people and a spectacular array of wildlife. These waters are facing steep threats from a combination of infrastructure development and climate change.

The Pride of the Purus River: An Iridescent Income from Ornamental FishJune 12, 2012

A Brazilian aquarium displays discus fish, coveted for their bright colors by fish keepers around the world. With support from WCS, the Piagaçu Institute is working with local fishermen in the Brazilian Amazon to sustainably manage discus cultivation. 

Discovery in the AmazonJuly 8, 2009

WCS scientists track a new subspecies of tamarin in an isolated region of the upper Amazon. Despite the remoteness of its habitat, the monkey is threatened by development in the region.

~/media/Images/wcs org/forms/please donate to help conservation.png
Stay in touch with WCS and receive the latest news.

WCS Brazil

Where We Work