Comunidad Inti Wara Yassi

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Comunidad Inti Wara Yassi
(First office opened in 1996 in Villa Tunari, Bolivia)
FounderJuan Carlos Antezana, Tania "Nena" Baltazar
TypeNon-governmental organization
FocusWildlife and environmental education, animal rights, and conservation
Area served
Methodeducation, wildlife care, research and lobbying
Key people
Tania Baltazar (President)
$416,000 (2010)[1]

Comunidad Inti Wara Yassi (CIWY) is a non-governmental organization dedicated to environmental education and the care of sick, mistreated and abandoned wildlife. Based and operated in Bolivia, it is the country's largest single destination for confiscated wildlife, though due to space limitations they are unable to accept all. The organization also carries out environmental activism and educational roles, focusing on animal rights and conservation. The name comprises words from three indigenous languages meaning sun, star and moon in the Quechua, Aymara and Chiriguano Guaraní languages.

The organization is supported by international volunteers that stay for a minimum of two weeks. Volunteers care for animals, clean and build cages and prepare food.


In 1986, Juan Carlos Antezana and Tania "Nena" Baltazar began working with impoverished youth in a small neighborhood in El Alto, La Paz. They worked to support the needs of miners' children who had relocated to the area, providing alternative education including carpentry workshops, tailoring, horticulture in greenhouses and other activities.

As part of the education program, the children were taken on field trips to the Yungas region of La Paz. During one such trip, the children witnessed the effect of man’s impact on the environment and the effect that slash-and-burn agriculture has on wildlife. This deeply affected the children, and they agreed to create an environmental movement with the aim of showing the public the negative effect of destroying the rainforest and other activities that cause damage to nature. Marches were held in La Paz, Oruro, Santa Cruz, Sucre and Cochabamba. These youth formed an integral part in CIWY's early attempts to raise awareness of environmental destruction.

During another field trip, the children witnessed blatant abuse of wildlife: they found a spider monkey in the city of Rurrenabaque kept in a local bar. Antezana and Baltazar rescued, treated and released the monkey. However, the monkey returned to Rurrenabaque and was again captured. Antezana and Baltazar realized a wildlife sanctuary would be necessary to protect these animals. CIWY was formally organized in 1992. The organization worked with and cared for rescued animals in a Japanese garden in La Paz until 1996, when the mayor of Villa Tunari granted conditional use of Parque Machía for the organization's rescue efforts.

Wildlife centers[edit]

Parque Machía[edit]

Parque Machía is situated in Villa Tunari in Chapare Province, in the department of Cochabamba. In 1996 the municipal council of Villa Tunari granted CIWY use of the park's land under the condition that CIWY looked after it, as it was under threat from deforestation and poaching. The center specializes in the care of spider monkeys and capuchin monkeys.

The center is directed by head vet Dr. Luis Morales and run by several permanent staff. Their work is supported by mainly foreign volunteers who work for a minimum of two weeks. Volunteers help to build and maintain cages, prepare food, provide enrichment programs, take animals for walks in the jungle and create new trails.

Animals that are cared for include pumas, ocelots, capuchin monkeys, spider monkeys, an Andean bear, coati, parrots and toucans.

Road construction[edit]

In 2009, the municipal council of Villa Tunari approved the construction of a road that would cut through the park in order to improve access to communities.[2] Despite an international campaign against the road, construction began in 2010. The road has loosened ground soil, causing landslides during the heavy rainy seasons, not only making the road impassable for much of the year, but also contributing to further loss of habitat for CIWY's efforts. In 2009, Jane Goodall visited Villa Tunari to speak against the destruction of the road.[3] In 2010, four pumas were relocated to Parque Jacj Cuisi as a result of land loss due the road's construction.

Parque Ambue Ari[edit]

Howler monkey under CIWY's care at Parque Ambue Ari

Parque Ambue Ari is an 800-hectare wildlife center located in the department of Santa Cruz between the cities of Santa Cruz and Trinidad. Unlike the land used in Parque Machia, Parque Ambue Ari's land is owned by CIWY, purchased in 2002 from a local cacao farmer. The center was opened in order to work more independently and to house an increasing number of rescued wildlife. The words ambue ari mean "new day" in the native language Guarayo.

The natural habitat within Parque Ambue Ari is an ideal location to care for jaguars, pumas, ocelots, exotic birds, tapirs, coati and red howler monkeys; however, local farmers have encroached on the center's land and hunters have been found within its territory.

The organization is in charge of the medical aspects of all animals while volunteers help by cleaning cages, feeding the animals, providing enrichment and assisting in construction or maintenance.

Parque Jacj Cuisi[edit]

Welcome sign at Parque Jacj Cuisi

During the final months of 2008, the land that Parque Jacj Cuisi is based on was acquired. Jacj Cuisi, which is the newest of CIWY’s wildlife centers, encompasses a 300 hectare area located approximately 35 km from the village of San Buenaventura, opposite the town of Rurrenabaque, and in the department of La Paz. Its location is important for the development of CIWY's work, as it is linked to the Madidi National Park, a 1.8 million hectare reserve and ideal land for potential reintroduction programs. 'Jacj Cuisi' means 'Land of Dreams' in the native language Mosetan Tacana.

Jacj Cuisi is currently in the initial phases of construction and only cares for four pumas that have been transferred from Parque Machía due to the loss of habitat caused by the 2010 road construction. Current priorities include completing the large veterinary clinic and a quarantine.


CIWY's beginnings were in educating poor children of El Alto, La Paz. Through the years, as CIWY's work began to encompass wildlife care and environmentalism, the type of education provided changed to focus on these topics. Today, CIWY visits cities and villages throughout Bolivia, putting on educational programs for youth.

International partnerships[edit]

CIWY today has branches in England, Switzerland and Israel, all founded and run by past volunteers.

CIWY has the support of Jane Goodall and the Jane Goodall Institute. In October 2009, Jane Goodall visited Parque Machía and Parque Ambue Ari.[4] CIWY is also supported by One Voice, a French animal rights organization; and The Monkey Sanctuary, a British organization that cares for rescued monkeys. In 2011, Luis Morales visited and assisted The Monkey Sanctuary.

In 1998, Baltazar was recognized by the Women's World Summit Foundation for her work with CIWY, being awarded their Prize for Women's Creativity in Rural Life.[5] In 2010, she was again recognized, this time by One Voice [fr], a French animal rights organization. After participating with One Voice in a silent protest for animal rights below the Eiffel Tower, One Voice offered Baltazar a donation to be used for the purchase of a vehicle. In 2011, the funds were used to purchase CIWY's first vehicle.


  1. ^ "Archived copy" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 2011-09-29. Retrieved 2011-08-22.CS1 maint: Archived copy as title (link)
  2. ^ "Emergency News: Illegal Road is destroying Inti Wara Yassi Animal Refuge! | Mr & Mrs – A blog of our round the world trip travelling through South America and South East Asia". 2009-09-25. Retrieved 2011-12-01.
  3. ^ "Defensora de primates evaluará la situación en el parque Machía". 2009-10-11. Retrieved 2011-12-01.
  4. ^ "Jane Goodall Visits Inti Wara Yassi". Quest Overseas. Retrieved 2011-12-01.
  5. ^

External links[edit]