In 1996, with two spider monkeys, two capuchin monkeys and one squirrel monkey, CIWY established the first wild animal sanctuary in Bolivia: Parque Machía. Today the sanctuary cares for over 400 animals, from more than 20 different species, including several that are threatened. Machía means “mountainous terrain” in Yuracaré, the indigenous language native to the area.
Located in an area of Pre-Andean Amazonian rainforest, Machía occupies approximately 38 hectares of state-owned land. The Municipality offers tours to visitors around areas of the sanctuary where we do not house animals, but from where you can observe groups of monkeys that have been liberated by CIWY. The groups of monkeys are often heard and seen in the treetops, playing and feeding. Many species of birds can also be seen here. There is an entry fee for tourists to this part of the sanctuary, but this money goes in its totality to the Municipality and not to CIWY. Visiting hours are 9:30-16:30 (except Mondays and rainy days).
To obtain more information, please call the Municipality office directly, at 44137521.
Nena Baltazar runs the sanctuary with the help of permanent staff and international volunteers, who stay for a minimum of two weeks. Parque Machía’s primary function is to care for rescued wildlife, and also serves as CIWY’s headquarters.
In 1996, the Villa Tunari Municipal Council granted CIWY the use of Parque Machía’s land for our work with rescued animals. CIWY, in turn, protects the area from deforestation and indiscriminate hunting. The municipality still owns the land, though over the years CIWY has purchased additional property to advance our work, including land for a veterinary clinic, an aviary and housing for employees and volunteers.
When CIWY was first established at Parque Machía, the problem surrounding poaching, wildlife illegal trafficking and environmental destruction was very alarming. Many actions were taken to combat these problems, and we always involved the children and youth of the community through informative talks at schools, protests and workshops. This has successfully advanced environmental awareness among young people and adults in the area. There have even been multiple cases of young people who stopped participating in illegal activities related to wildlife, and came to the sanctuary to help protect the animals.
In 2009, the Villa Tunari´s Municipality approved a road construction that cut through the sanctuary, severely impacting land we use to care for wildlife. Despite strong local campaigning and an international campaign condemning the road, construction began in 2010. It loosened ground soil, causing landslides during the rainy season. These landslides not only make the road impassable for much of the year but also contributes to further habitat loss. The construction of the road and its consequences have severely reduced our animal management areas, forcing us to relocate certain animals.
More than 400 animals from over 20 different species live within the sanctuary of Parque Machía, including endangered species such as black-faced spider monkeys, an Andean spectacled bear, macaws and more. The sanctuary specialises in the care of capuchin monkeys, spider monkeys, coatis and many bird species.
Full-time and seasonal veterinarians, and animal keepers care for the animals with help from national and international volunteers. The animals’ diets are carefully managed to meet specific nutritional needs, and they are provided with environmental enrichment daily to keep them stimulated and help them develop natural behaviors.
Parque Machía is home to many mammals, birds and reptiles. Several management systems have been developed in order to provide an optimum quality of life for each individual according to its needs. Protocols have also been created to ensure the safety of personnel and animals. The management systems are as follows:
Many free animals live in the protected wild area of Parque Machía; some naturally and others that have been released by CIWY. We have released many groups of capuchin monkeys over time, and they have adapted to living freely in Machía. They are independent groups that we monitor remotely to assess their reintroduction.
This system was developed for animals that cannot be released because they depend on the staff for food and protection. Even though they are not completely independent, they can still enjoy being free. Some semi-free animals eventually regain the survival skills needed to be fully released, while others remain in this system for life.
The runner system is ideal for monkeys with a certain degree of social skills and who allow direct management from volunteers and staff. They spend their days in large runners, where they have a greater area to move around freely and to interact with other monkeys. This encourages social behaviors that help create bonds between the individuals of the group and it reduces stress levels. At night, they are protected in enclosures or cages. Depending on the animal’s behavior, this system takes place with or without direct contact with people.
The final goal of this system is the formation of stable troops, which can then be released into the wild. This cannot always be achieved, due to the lack of social skills of some of the individuals. Even when it is not possible to form a stable group that can be released, we encourage natural social behaviors, as they are very important for the welfare of the animals.
Some animals live entirely in enclosures, adapted to their species. Many of these animals lack social skills, which prevents them from living in groups, while others belong to solitary species. Direct contact is not possible with these animals, neither with staff nor with individuals of their species. We offer them daily environmental enrichment to promote natural behaviors and we implement programs to promote social behavior (if it’s appropriate for the species).
Comunidad Inti Wara Yassi (CIWY) is a Bolivian Non-Governmental Organisation engaged in protecting wildlife rescued from illegal trafficking and the conservation of ecosystems. Across its three wildlife sanctuaries, CIWY has cared for thousands of animals over the years, providing for them a better quality of life and a future in their natural habitat. CIWY has been in operation since 1992 and is today recognised internationally for its work in wildlife care and rehabilitation.
Part of the extended CIWY family are Friends of Inti Wara Yassi UK and Friends of Inti Wara Yassi Australia, two international nonprofits founded and run by former volunteers to facilitate fundraising and permit tax-deductible donations for British and Australian taxpayers.