Our Story - Comunidad Inti Wara Yassi (CIWY)

Our Story


Our Story

Comunidad Inti Wara Yassi (CIWY) is a Bolivian non-governmental organisation dedicated to wildlife conservation, specialising in the rescue, rehabilitation and care of wildlife that has fallen victim to illegal trafficking and other harm.

As Bolivia’s leading organisation in the fight for animal rights and wildlife care, CIWY works to combat the illegal wildlife trade and the destruction of the environment. We collaborate with the Bolivian authorities to enforce the law, to seize and rescue animals from poachers and merchants, as well as zoos when conditions do not meet legal requirements.

CIWY also rehabilitates wild animals that were injured by fires or other disasters. We conduct educational projects locally and nationally, as well as research projects, and scientific dissemination.

CIWY operates three wildlife sanctuaries distributed throughout Bolivia: Machía, Ambue Ari and Jacj Cuisi. A section of each sanctuary is devoted to wildlife rehabilitation, while the majority of the land is protected for in situ wildlife preservation. Our sanctuaries are managed by a team of professionals and volunteers from around the world.

Our name reflects the ethnic diversity of Bolivia and our link with nature, by using words from the indigenous languages of the three main ethnic groups in Bolivia. “Inti” means “sun” in Quechua, “Wara” means “star” in Aymara, and “Yassi” means “moon” in Chiriguano-Guaraní. Bringing these languages together symbolises unity.

Mission & Vision

Our mission

CIWY combats the illegal wildlife trade and the destruction of the environment through direct action, educational programs, and research projects. At its wildlife sanctuaries in the Bolivian Amazon, CIWY rehabilitates and cares for wild animals rescued from trafficking, wildfire, and other harmful situations. CIWY protects over 1000 hectares of untouched rainforest from poaching, logging, mining, and wildfire.

Through this work, we aim to inspire humankind to uphold values that promote conservation and the recuperation of biodiversity.

Our vision

Our vision is a world in which wildlife thrives and lives freely in its natural habitat, free from the dangers of poaching and the destruction of its ecosystems.

Our objectives

Our primary objectives are:

  • To defend the environment and conserve biodiversity.
  • To rescue and rehabilitate wildlife that has fallen victim to trafficking, abuse, or wildfire.
  • To responsibly manage and care for rescued wildlife and protected habitat.
  • To coordinate research and education programs that support conservation efforts.
One of CIWY's early conservation efforts against deforestation
One of CIWY's early conservation efforts against deforestation
Bolivian students march in support of wildlife and conservation in La Paz during the early days of CIWY
Bolivian students march in support of wildlife and conservation in La Paz during the early days of CIWY
One of CIWY's early conservation efforts against deforestation
One of CIWY's early conservation efforts against deforestation


CIWY’s seed was sown in the 1980s, when a group of Bolivian volunteers began an initiative to teach trade skills to less privileged youth in La Paz, giving them the means to support themselves. This education program included a field trip to the ‘Choro Trail.’ The youth from the altiplano were amazed by the luscious vegetation and quantity of wildlife that they witnessed in the wilderness outside of La Paz. But as they reached Coroico they witnessed the negative impact that humans were having upon the environment and wildlife, particularly from slash-and-burn agriculture. The sight of the scorched earth deeply affected the youth, and they committed to create an environmental movement to show the public the adverse effects of destroying the rainforest.

On another trip, this time to Rurrenabaque, the youth encountered a spider monkey which some locals at a bar had forced to drink alcohol and dance for the entertainment of patrons. The youth decided to rescue the animal and persuaded the bar owner to give it to them. At the time, there was no sanctuary to take the monkey to, so they brought it to an eco-hostel nearby.

The group began to campaign and raise awareness, expressing the urgent need for environmental legislation to protect the forests and animals of Bolivia. Over the years CIWY’s work evolved and its principal mission is now to help rescued wildlife. However, we have never lost sight of our original mission of supporting children.

Comunidad Inti Wara Yassi was officially founded in 1992, as an environmental activism group. CIWY organised environmental protection brigades, demonstrations, protests, talks at schools, and other actions that raised awareness about the urgent need for change regarding the way humans interact with biodiversity.

One of CIWY´s founders, Tania “Nena” Baltazar, rescued a spider monkey that was being mistreated, and resolved to create a wildlife refuge, to properly rehabilitate and care for the large number of animals that needed help.

In 1996, with 2 spider monkeys, 2 capuchin monkeys, and a squirrel monkey, CIWY created the first wildlife sanctuary in Bolivia: Parque Machía, thanks to an agreement signed by the Municipal Government of Villa Tunari for the use of the land.

In 2002, thanks to financial support from Quest Overseas and FIWY UK, CIWY acquired land for its biggest sanctuary, Ambue Ari, specialising in the care of wild felines.

Friends of Inti Wara Yassi (FIWY) became a registered UK charity in 2008, with the famous primatologist Jane Goodall as its Patron. CIWY enjoyed the privilege of being visited by Dr. Goodall in 2009. She visited Parque Machía and Parque Ambue Ari to support CIWY’s work with animals and the environment.

In 2009, thanks to donations from volunteers through FIWY UK, CIWY established its third sanctuary, Jacj Cuisi, in the outskirts of Rurrenabaque.

In 2017, Comunidad Inti Wara Yassi received the Institutional Merit Recognition through a Governmental Decree of the Department of Cochabamba for its contribution to the defense of the environment and the conservation of biodiversity for 25 years.

In 2023 the Senate of Bolivia honored CIWY with a Chamber Declaration, at the initiative of Senator Cecilia Requena, for CIWY’s 30 years of conservation work. This recognition establishes “public honors for eminent services to the State.”

Today over 500 wild animals reside in CIWY’s sanctuaries, and many more have been rehabilitated and released into the wild. Nena has been joined by an incredible staff of Bolivian and foreign conservationists, veterinarians, biologists, and sanctuary administrators. Volunteers from around the world contribute to the daily operations of the sanctuaries.

Over time CIWY has not only changed the lives and futures of thousands of animals, but also of thousands of people who belong to the wider CIWY family, people with the same passion and vision of the world, people that fight on a daily basis to improve our planet.

Join us and help us change the world!