The Missiones region of Argentina covers more than 29,000 km². It is surrounded to the north by Brazil, to the west by Paraguay and to the east by Uruguay. The area, which has suffered heavy forest loss with the establishment of agriculture, is now protected in 11 different forms (national parks, nature reserves, provincial parks, etc.). The tropical forest that covers the rest of Missiones is rich in its biological diversity and the many endemic species that inhabit it. However, they are still in danger due to unmeasured and illegal deforestation, resulting in the loss of their habitat.

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Missiones Tropical Forest hosts :

  • 3148 species of plants
  • 1125 species of vertebrates
  • 274 species of fish
  • 66 species of amphibians
  • 114 species of reptiles
  • 546 species of birds
  • 124 species of mammals
Entrance Guira Oga
Entrance to Guira Oga

Not far from the town of Puerto Iguazu in Argentina, the Guïra Oga refuge tries to protect as much as possible this fauna by trying to rescue animals injured during road accidents or by poachers, those seized from illegal trafficking of animals, or from the closures of zoos and circuses (returning animals to their original habitat). Their goal is to reintroduce these animals if possible back into the wild and if not, if the animals are too weak, handicapped, or too domesticated, set up a breeding plan if a pair can be formed.

How does Guïra Oga work?

  1. Accepting animals (seized, injured, orphans, etc.)
  2. Veterinary attention & health checks
  3. Quarantine
  4. Recovery
  5. Rehabilitation and adaptation
  6. Release into the wild or breeding in captivity
  7. Community and School Awareness Program
  8. Guided tours of the park
How does Guira og work
How does Guïra Oga work ?

Open to the public all year round, the shelter develops educational programs to help create awarness in order to preserve the Missiones tropical forest and its biological diversity.

Howler monkey
Howler monkey

We spent an afternoon at Guïra Oga in between visits to the Iguazu Falls Parks. We thoroughly enjoyed the work that was undertaken and the tour given by the staff. Unfortunately, we felt that the cages were a little small, but these animals are only supposed to be in the shelter for a limited time. For permanent residents which can not be reintroduced into their natural environment, we found a this a little unfortunate that the park does not offer the animals more space, knowing that the park is established on 19 ha. The enclosures deserve to be enlarged.

Blue-and-yellow Macaw
Blue-and-yellow Macaw
Green parrots
Green parrots

Nevertheless, from what we have understood, the park survives only through park entrances and private donations. The local and national governments don’t seem to be involved and do not fund any of the programs.

Click to enlarge images

Rehabilitation of falcons and eagles

At the Guïra Oga refuge, veterinary teams developed a technique of scientific falconry, helping them to rehabilitate eagles and hawks. Birds are held by ties to a special bench to train them by performing outdoor flying exercises. The training flights are carried out at Guïra Oga in a special zone, closely monitored by the trainers.

According to the shelter, these daily flights allow the falcons and eagles to (re) build their muscles. They are also allowed to catch prey, which can be simulated or real, to help them maintain their character, temperament and aggressiveness. These activities are necessary for birds that have been kept for a long time in captivity so that they can be reintroduced into the wild or prepared for captive breeding.

Black-and-white Hawk
Black-and-white Hawk

With howler monkeys, these are the only animals that are not kept in a cage because their feathers could be damaged against the cables. Injured, it would therefore be impossible to release the birds or prepare them for captive breeding.

Guira Oga Staff
Guïra Oga Staff – Our guide
Golden spider
Golden spider – its web is so strong that it is used for the parachute strings

 

Cost and useful info :

More information: http://www.guiraoga.com.ar/
They informed us that they were taking volunteers and accepting donations 🙂

Bus Return Puerto Iguazu -> Guïra Oga* = 26 ARS
Guïra Oga entrance* = 150 ARS

*As of February, 1st 2017

Read more about our time in Puerto Iguazu