Autor: Eugenio de Bellard Pietri

Volumen: LIII, Número: 1-2, Año: 1993, Páginas: 149-188

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Scientific Expeditions to the Tapirapeco Range

Following the success of the 1985 La Neblina Expedition, FUDECI concentrated on the virgin southern extreme of Amazon State. Two expeditions were organised: che 1988 visualised the problems to be faced, set the appropriate sites for the camps, obtained a general idea of the indian locations and assessed the importance and variety of the flora and fauna. 33 persons (8 scientists) attended this preliminary visit. The Ministry of Defense furnished the aerial transportation (C-130, G-222 and a helicopter). A vast area of up to then unexplored territory, some 9000 square kilometers, was selected for the 1989 expedition. Said area covered four ecosystems: the Mavaca River bassin, the Unturan Range, the Siapa River eastern bassin and the Tapirapeco Range. Very primitive Yanomami indians (both sexes completely naked) were met without problems. Expedition lasted 28 days. Some new species were collected (fishes, birds, bivalves, orchids). The second expedition (1989) drew 126 persons (55 scientists) and lasted 89 days. Reknown scientists and naturalists of the American Museum of Natural History (9), Project Biosphere II (7) and The State, Zoological Collections of Munich (1) took active part in most of the investigations. With the full support of the Ministry of Defense (C-130 and G-222 transports plus two constant helicopters), an excellent exploration was carried out in the planned area and significant investigations were made in astronomy, geography, hidrology, geology, botany, entomology, herpetology, icthiology, ornithology, mastozoology, archaeology, virology and speleology.
A very serious malaria epidemy struck the area during the exploration activities, killed 101 yanomamy and makiritare indians in the nearby shaponos and affected 40 of the personnel of the expedition, two very seriously. Numerous new species of botanical and zoological specimens were collected and very large numbers of the same are still under study in Venezuela, United States and Germany.


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