From old growth and seasonally flooded forests to grasslands, Calakmul harbors a wealth of biodiversity within its boundaries. The endangered Jabiru stork, duck-beak tree frog, king vulture, ornate hawk eagle, toucans, parrots, six species of marsupials, and two primates are among the many endemic and/or endangered species that find refuge in the reserves. Forming an important part of the Mesoamerican biological corridor, the forest allows for movement of species from the Yucatan to the Petén region in Guatemala and beyond. With five of the six endemic feline species, Calakmul hosts the largest number of felines in all of North America. The Canellasea family is found in Calakmul, which is the only place on the American continent where this flora exists. Over 230 bird species have been recorded in Calakmul and 3-5 million migratory birds winter here each year.
Calakmul has been threatened by unsustainable wood extraction since the beginning of the 20th century when the Mexican government promoted forestry activities in the area. These forestry activities brought settlements and rapid population growth to the area which led to more intensive deforestation and increasing pressure on native wildlife. These same problems exist today as an ever-expanding human population continues to clear land for cattle ranching and agriculture. Roads now line the reserve and have fragmented wildlife habitat. The booming population and pollution from agricultural activities also puts severe pressure on freshwater resources in the area. Adding to these challenges is the fact that much of the reserve is composed of ejidal (communal) lands. As the natural systems become increasingly degraded, so too does the quality of life they provide for local residents.
A Strategy of Success
When Parks and Peril (PiP) began working in Calakmul in 1991, the reserve had no staff, infrastructure, nor funding for conservation activities. The borders of the reserve crossed private and ejidal lands, resulting in little support for the creation of the reserve. The nearest reserve authorities were located 150 miles away and environmental regulations were difficult to enforce. With PiP funding, however, signs and guard stations were soon installed and radio communications and vehicles were provided for a total of 20 newly hired reserve staff.
PiP and its partner organization Pronatura Peninsula de Yucatan (PPY) revived Calakmul’s Technical Advisory Committee (TAC), an organization designed to bring stakeholders and communities together. Today, the TAC—represented by over 70 percent of the local population and members of 43 governmental, academic, social, and non-governmental organizations—supports community-based projects and ensures on-site management at Calakmul.
PPY has created research alliances with national and international organizations, which now support on-going conservation research and monitoring. With PiP support, the TAC analyzed the threats to the reserve by incorporating socioeconomic and land tenure variables as well as wildlife indicators in a mapping project.
When PiP began working with the reserve, the program was the reserve’s only source of funding. Upon site consolidation in 1999, Calakmul was receiving federal funds and support from multiple organizations.
Read more about Calakmul...
ProNatura Peninsula de Yucatan (PPY)
The Nature Conservancy in Calakmul
Online Field Guide to Calakmul
Read more about projects in Mexico...
El Pinacate/Gran Desierto del Altar Biosphere Reserve
Cuatro Ciénegas National Wildlife Reserve
Loreto Bay/Isla Espiritu Santo Migratory Flora and Fauna Reserve
Ría Celestún & Ría Lagartos Biosphere Reserves
Ajos Bavispe Biosphere Reserve
El Triunfo Biosphere Reserve
Sian Ka'an Biosphere Reserve
El Ocote Biosphere Reserve
La Encrucijada Biosphere Reserve
Mexico Partner Organizations
The Nature Conservancy in Mexico