San Rafael
San Rafael National Reserve, one of the most endangered wildernesses in the world.
Naturally one of the most important tropical forest areas in all of South America

Surveys reveal riches of San Rafael


Ten years of survey work in the San Rafael National Park in Paraguay have established that it is “as
important for both avian diversity and threatened species as any other location in South America”.
The 405 species recorded so far include 70 Atlantic Forest endemics, and 16 Near Threatened and
12 globally threatened species, including the Endangered Black-fronted Piping-Guan Pipile
jacutinga and Marsh Seedeater Sporophila palustris.

San Rafael has more of the 79 Atlantic Forest species recorded in Paraguay than any other
Paraguayan site, and its overall avian diversity is comparable to much larger Atlantic Forest sites in
Brazil (for example, the Tibagi River Basin in the state of Parana, which is 30 times larger than San
Rafael, has 476 species).  “Many Brazilian IBAs include a larger altitudinal gradient and greater area
than San Rafael while containing a similar number of threatened and endemic species”, say the
authors of a recent paper The avifauana of San Rafael National Park, Paraguay.

San Rafael is also important for grassland birds, with 93 species recorded, of which 14 were only
found in this habitat, including the Vulnerable Saffron-cowled Blackbird Xanthopsar flavus, and the
Vulnerable Chestnut Seedeater Sporophila cinnamomea, which like the Marsh Seedeater is a
Mesopotamian Grasslands endemic.

Although San Rafael was decreed a national park in 1992, the boundaries were only delimited in
1997, and still have to be legally recognised. BirdLife Partner Guyra Paraguay raised the money to
buy 6,200 hectares of near-pristine Atlantic Forest, but the majority of the park’s 748km2 are
unprotected and suffering encroachment from agriculture, particularly soybean cultivation and
cattle grazing.

For birds like Black-fronted Piping-Guan and the near threatened Solitary Tinamou Tinamus
solitarius, hunting is probably the main threat, with both birds found well away from areas of
settlement and urban encroachment.
From Bird Life International:
Visit while in Paraguay with Mission Tours