RI 24 PERU
Cerros de Kampankis
The birth of the Andes mountains also lifted up a number of smaller outlying ridges in the Amazon lowlands. The Kampankis Mountains are a knife-thin ridge that rises 1,435 m above the surrounding lowlands, roughly 40 km distant from the eastern cordillera of the Andes. Draped in clouds for much of the year, these highlands have weathered long periods of isolation over millions of years.
Today, Cerros de Kampankis has a unique convergence: Amazonian lowland megadiverse flora and fauna mixes with montane elements associated from the Cordillera del Cóndor. In this spectacular landscape of cliffs, waterfalls, limestone and sandstone ridges, biologists logged >560 vertebrate species, including 14 species of fish, amphibians, and reptiles new to science. An estimated of 3,500 plant species grow in this region—including a palm whose local name, kampanak, gives the range its name—and other 11 species of plants appear to be new to science.
Inhabited by the Wampis and Awajún peoples for centuries, the area has attracted oil, gas, mining, and timber companies for decades. While there is a consensus among local residents and the Peruvian government that Kampankis is too valuable to sustain a new burst of large-scale extractive industries, there are divergent visions of how to balance the conservation of its biodiversity with residents’ deep and long-standing connections to the land.
Photo by Álvaro del Campo