Llanos de Moxos
The Llanos de Moxos covers an area of 126,100 square kilometers (48,700 sq mi) in the lowlands of northern Bolivia, with small portions in neighboring Brazil and Peru. Most of the Llanos de Moxos lies within the departments of El Beni, Cochabamba, La Paz, Pando, and Santa Cruz. The Llanos de Moxos occupies the southwestern corner of the Amazon basin, and the region is crossed by numerous rivers that drain the eastern slope of the Andes Mountains. The low relief of the savannas, coupled with wet season rains and snowmelt from the Andes, cause up to half the land to flood seasonally.
The climate of the Llanos de Moxos is tropical, with pronounced wet and dry seasons. The wet season generally extends from December to May, and annual rainfall ranges from 1300 in the east to 2000 mm in the west.
The ecoregion comprises a mosaic of savannas and wetlands, with islands of forest and gallery forests along rivers. Flooding and fire are important ecological factors.
The Llanos de Moxos was the setting for many complex pre-Columbian societies, many of which constructed agricultural earthworks such as raised fields, causeways, canals and mounds. These earthworks were built and used from about 1100 BC until about AD 1450, so far as can be told from archeological remains which do not preserve well in the tropics. The earthworks exceed the Giza pyramids in size and arouse similar speculation as to the means by which they were constructed. Prehispanic peoples made decorated pottery, wove cotton cloth, and in some places buried their dead in large urns.
A 50,000 square kilometer swath of savanna has been identified as having raised fields which were used for agriculture from about 1100 BC until AD 1450.
Although Europeans arrived in the Americas in the late 15th century, they did not come to settle in the Llanos de Moxos until the late 17th century. The missions established by Jesuit missionaries in the 17th and 18th centuries became many of the modern towns in the region.
Conservation and threats
- Blue-throated macaw - critically endangered
- "Beni savanna". Terrestrial Ecoregions. World Wildlife Fund.
- Early and Middle Holocene Hunter-Gatherer Occupations in Western Amazonia: The Hidden Shell Middens