The Kanuku Mountains are a mountain group located within the Rupununi natural region in southwestern Guyana. The east-west range divides the Rupununi from the wetlands of the north and the savannas of the south. The mountains have been designated a National Protected Area.
The Kanuku Mountains are a mountain group located within the Rupununi natural region in southwestern Guyana. The east-west range essentially divides the Rupununi from the wetlands of the north and the savannas of the south.
The Kanuku Mountains are part of administrative Region Nine (Upper Takutu, Upper Essequibo), the largest of the 10 administrative regions of Guyana.
The eastern Kanuku Mountains and the western Kanuku Mountains are separated by the Rupununi River. The Rupununi region is considered to be one of the most ecologically diverse areas in the country.
The area is drained by the Takutu River in the west and by the Rupununi River to the east. The Takutu drains into the Rio Branco in Brazil before joining the Amazon Basin. The Rupununi River flows into the Essequibo, Guyana's largest river. There is a single wet season from May through August and a long dry season from September through April.
The 99%-forested mountains rise up to 1,100 m (3,600 ft) asl in height and are uninhabited. The area includes savanna and gallery forest in the lowlands and rainforest in the mountainous area.
The area around the mountains is populated mainly by the indigenous Macushi and Wapishana people who live in 21 communities and use the resources of the mountains for their subsistence living. Kanuku means 'forest' in the Wapishana language.
Kanuku Mountains Protected Area
In 2011, the mountains were designated a National Protected Area. The conservation area is approximately 611,000 ha (1,509,800 acres) in size and encompasses the least populated portion of the mountain region.
These rainforest-covered mountains are nestled in the heart of Guyana’s tropical savannahs and provide habitat for populations of rare and endangered species. Its unusual combination of forest, savannah, wetland and mixed habitats results in an abundance of wildlife.
In addition to being important in terms of plant endemism, the area is of high biodiversity value. The lowland forests sustain 53% of all the known bird species in Guyana and about 70% of all mammals found in Guyana.
The Kanuka Mountains have the highest recorded bat diversity in the world, with 89 species. The mountains also represent one of the few areas on the continent where rare Guiana Shield species mix with endangered Amazonian "giants", including the Giant River Otter, Harpy Eagle, Giant Anteater, Black Caiman and Giant River Turtle.