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Matsigenkas inside Manu National Park and their use of natural resources

Communities within Manu National Park were informed of the studies on the park’s natural resources, which are vital for their subsistence.

Yomibato trip
The FZS Peru team presented the most relevant data obtained from the study, which was welcomed by the Matsigenkas

April 04, 2017. Between the 16th and 30th of march, a team of specialists from the Frankfurt Zoological Society Peru (FZS Peru) entered deep inside Manu National Park (NP Manu) to reveal to members of Matsigenka communities the results of the study on wildlife subjected to hunting and fishing activities, which was conducted in Yomibato, Tayakome and Maizal.


Getting to these communities takes at least up to two to three days during rainy season and up to five days during dry season, sailing along the Alto Madre de Dios, Manu and Fierro rivers in the heart of the protected area.


Tayakome and Yomibato are located inside NP Manu and together are home to 500 people. Maizal is harbors some 77 inhabitants and is adjoined to Tayakome. All three were the study’s target locations for 29 months.


These communities possess basic health, education and communications services and are frequently visited by Matsiguenkas that have initial contact status. Their source of nourishment lies in the wildlife they live with: mammals, birds, fish, and so on. Additionally, they develop their own subsistence agriculture, growing more than 64 species of plants, most prominently yuccas and bananas.

Yomibato trip.jpg
Matsigenka women also participated in the event and took their children with them.

In the last 30 years, communities within NP Manu grew from 154 to 634 inhabitants. NP Manu is considered to be one of the most biodiverse places in the world, and it is expected that with the passage of time, hunting and fishing will put greater pressure on the park’s wildlife. This is why it is imperative to know the dinamics and populations of the species in order to find solutions together with the Matsigenka tribes that do not considerably affect the wildlife around their communities and that allow them to make adequately manage their use of natural resources in a sustainable way.


A total of 45 camera traps were installed in community areas, covering 25 square kilometers in each location. 1991.6 kilometers of monitoring transects were evaluated. They recorded a great sample of fauna subjected to hunting. Furthermore, a complementary study on fishing activities monitored fishing methods and a number of species commonly eaten in this communities. 

Initial results were presented in the Matsigenka language, and they revealed that spider monkeys, yellow-tailed woolly monkeys, peccaries and rodents (the spotted paca and the Central American agouti) are most preferred for consumption. The helmeted curassow, the dusky-legged guan and partridges are the most hunted birds and some species of catfish, such as the zungaro, the Mediterranean rainbow wrasse and other species like the black prochilodus and the carachama are the most widely consumed fish. 

The Matsiguenka indians are fishing by poisoning the river with the Barbasco plant.  © Daniel Rosengren
Fishing is one of the main subsistence activities in Matsigenka communities.

The study methodology was participative as it involved 40 Matsigenka families monitored by two previously trained local employees.


Leaders have permitted the execution of the study in their communities from the very beginning. Informational workshops on the progress of the study have been carried out on a yearly basis. But on this occasion, initial results were presented to each community, that is, approximately 120 adults and many more children of all ages.


Images and data obtained on the seasonal consumption of fauna will help develop conservation documents and natural resource management plans.


Juan Capeshi, head of Maizal, expressed his gratitude in his native language for the good work and the willingness of his people to take part in the study. Capeshi knows that the monkeys, peccaries and curassows he saw during a presentation in the community’s elementary school are valued as being a part of their culture, and that this source of nourishment shouldn’t disappear. He was genuinely worried about possible future changes that diminish animal populations. As a leader, he must guide his great family through the way towards a sustainable consumption and management of the natural resources they depend on.


The study is part of the ProBosque Manu project, which is promoted by the International Climate Initiative (IKI) of the German Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation, Building and Nuclear Safety (BMUB).