Rupununi savannah

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Rupununi savannah, in the Upper Takutu-Upper Essequibo region of Guyana.

The Rupununi savannah is a savanna plain in Guyana, in the Upper Takutu-Upper Essequibo region. It is an ecoregion of the Tropical and subtropical grasslands, savannas, and shrublands Biome.[1]


The Rupununi savannah is located between the Rupununi River and the border with Brazil and Venezuela. The savannah is dissected by the Kanuku Mountains. The Rupununi savannahs encompass 5000 square miles of virtually untouched grasslands, swamp lands, rain forested mountains and are inhabited by some 15,000 Wapisiana, Macushi and Wai-Wai Amerindians.

The Rupununi forms the South-western wilderness territory of Guyana, a Caribbean country situated on the North-eastern littoral of South America bordered by Venezuela, Brazil and Suriname.

The savannahs are divided north from south, by the Kanuku Mountains, Guyana’s most biologically diverse region. According to Conservation International, the "area supports a large percentage of Guyana’s bio-diversity", including 250 species of bird life, 18 of which are native "only to the lowland forests of the Guianas".

The Harpy Eagle, the world’s most powerful bird of prey, an extremely rare and endangered species which once ranged the forests of South America, and is exclusively found in the Rupununi/Kanuku mountain range.

The Rupununi is the home of the Wapisiana, Macushi, Wai-Wai and Patomona peoples. A recent survey recorded a population of 14,689 Amerindians. The Wapisiana live mainly in the south savannahs, the Macushi in the north. Some 200 Wai-Wai live in near isolation in the remote southeastern region bordering Brazil virtually untouched by modern life.

The Rupununi is a paradise for the eco-tourist. It is designated to be a "protected area" by the government of Guyana, housing some 80% of the mammals and 60% of the bird life to be found in Guyana’s tropical forests and savannahs. The Dadanawa cattle ranch in the south savannah is reported to be the largest cattle ranch in the world and welcomes visitors. The ranch specialises in catering for detailed studies of flora and fauna. The Karanabo ranch in the north savannahs provides excellent accommodation with riding, fishing, swimming, wild-life photography.

The Rupununi is easily accessible by small aircraft and helicopter flights regularly available from Guyana’s capital Georgetown on the Atlantic coast. In the dry season its accessible by an unpaved "all weather" road using trucks or 4x4 vehicles. It takes about 48 hours of tough driving. Heavy flooding makes this drive unpredictable and dangerous in the rainy season during the months of April to June.

The savannah is teeming with wildlife, including a large variety of bird species. The savanah is also home to the jaguar as well as the harpy eagle. The region usually floods in the wet season (May - August).


There are Amerindian villages dotted throughout the Rupununi savannah, as well as many ranches worked by vaqueros (cowboys), some of whom are descendants of 19th century Scottish settlers. The main town is Lethem, located beside the Takutu River, the border with Brazil. Owing to the savanna's remoteness from the rest of the country most trade is conducted with Brazil and most people speak a little Portuguese.

In 1969 some ranchers started what has been referred to as the Rupununi Uprising. The revolt was quelled within a few days.

Main Occupations[edit]

The major occupations or industries in the Rupununi Savannahs are: Cattle Ranching for Beef; Balata bleeding; Farming e.g. Peanuts,Maize(Corn),Cassava,Vegetables;Fishing and Hunting; and Craft Work (hammocks, leather articles,Nibbi Furniture and Beadwork).


Coordinates: 2°45′N 59°45′W / 2.750°N 59.750°W / 2.750; -59.750