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Churute Mangroves Ecological Reserve





Location: Guayas Province  Map

Area: 350.41 km2




Description of Churute Mangroves Ecological Reserve

Churute Mangroves Ecological Reserve is located in Guayas Province of Ecuador. These mangrove forest of Churute Mangroves Ecological Reserve covers an area of 350.41 km2. The closest large settlement is the city of Guayaquil located about 40 km (25 miles) from the entrance to Churute Mangroves. Although the reserve offers a network of hiking trail, the best way to explore the mangrove forest is by canoe. Aquatic birds, many species of crustaceans and many tortoises are most abundant on the border between water and mangrove forests. Keeping it quiet and restrain from any sudden movements will allow to approach fauna of this Ecuadorian Ecological Reserve fairly close.




The Reserve is managed by the Ministry of Environment, and has an interpretation center with a library and a computer center donated in the framework of the agreements between the Inter-American Bank for Reconstruction and Development (IBRD) -CEDEGE and the consortium formed between CEDEGE, the Ministry of Environment and the Natura Foundation. Thanks to these agreements, studies on the red crab, tourism and a forest fire control plan have been developed. Infrastructure works have also been carried out to delimit and protect the Reserve, ecotourism trails were created and control personnel for communication equipment, motorcycles and bicycles for patrolling, and even an outboard motor for surveillance of The estuaries

This Ecological Reserve was established in July 1979 with the purpose of protecting three clearly defined sectors: the Churute hills, the Canclón lagoon and the mangrove remnants. The Reserve is part of the National System of Protected Areas and is registered in the Ramsar International Convention because it is one of the most important wetlands in Ecuador (including the El Canclón lagoon). Part of the Reserve (Cerro Masvale), is managed by the Andrade Ecological Foundation privately.

The Reserve is part of the interior estuary of the Gulf of Guayaquil, where the saline waters of the ocean and the sweets provided by rivers such as Taura, Churute, Cañar and Naranjal are mixed. The contribution of sediments, together with the sea currents, have formed an extensive complex of canals and islands.

Of the entire Reserve, 35,000 ha correspond to mangroves, 5,500 ha to dry, semi-deciduous and humid forests, in the hills of El Mate, Cimalón, Perequete Chico, Perequete Grande, Pancho Diablo and Masvale, and 8,883 ha comprise the wetland of the El Canclón lagoon and the agricultural areas of the communes that are located inside the Reserve. Within the Reserve there are some human settlements that are dedicated to agricultural and livestock activities.

The flora is diverse in the humid forest parts. More than 300 species of plants have been found, including five mangrove species. Additionally, 25 species are timber trees, corresponding to the families Bignoniaceae, Caesalpinaceae, Fabaceae, Mimosaceae, Lauraceae, Rhizophoraceae and Sapotaceae.

Among the endemic species of the dry forest, which deserve special attention because they are unique to these environments, we can mention the chirigua (Eriotheca ruizii), the tirso (Macranthisiphon longifolium) and the Picramnia tumbesina, known only on the Masvale Hill, between 200 and 400 meters above sea level, around the El Canclón lagoon there are showy floating plants such as river lettuce (Pistia stratiotes), water hyacinth (Eichornia crassipes) and totora (Schoenoplectus californicus).

In total 45 species of mammals have been reported. Howler monkeys (Alouatta palliata), are still frequent, having also registered crab raccoons (Procyon cancrivorus), didactic sloths (Choloepus hoffmanni), bushy-tailed squirrels (Sciurus stramineus), among others. In the mangrove areas there are also some species of dolphins such as bottlenose (Tursiops truncatus).

More than 300 bird species have been registered in the area. It has numerous endemic tumbesin species and several globally threatened species, such as the bumblebee hummingbird (Acestrura bombus), the dorsigrish hawk (Leucopternis occidentalis) and the ventriocre mount pigeon (Leptotila ochraceiventris). The Reserve is important for aquatic species and migratory t-shirts, as well as for endangered species in Ecuador, such as the Aruco (Anhima cornuta). The Reserve is home to the largest population of this bird species in the country. In addition, it contains some typically Andean species in its highest parts.There are pink spatulas (Platalea ajaja) and striated herons (Butorides striata), snowy (Egretta thula) and bluish (Ardea herodias), so unique Neotropical cormorants (Phalacrocorax brasilianus) , which feed on shrimp.