This destination has no photos. Upload the first!
Written by Milvos on 06 Oct, 2001
The "Reserva de la Humanidad y Biosfera del Rio Platano" was declared in 1980 by the Honduran government. The reserve is situated in the North East of Honduras and covers 5251 km². The Reserve is one of the largest areas of forest remaining in Honduras.…Read More
The "Reserva de la Humanidad y Biosfera del Rio Platano" was declared in 1980 by the Honduran government. The reserve is situated in the North East of Honduras and covers 5251 km². The Reserve is one of the largest areas of forest remaining in Honduras. The reserve has a great bio-diversity of eco-systems, vast mangrove swamps, pine forests, savannas, tropical rain forests, and elffin forest. These areas are dissected by numerous rivers which ultimately flow into the Caribbean Sea. In 1980 UNESCO designated Rio Platano a world heritage site.
Four indigenous groups inhabit the Rio Platano, Garifuna, Miskito, Pech, and Sumo (Tawahka). Garifunas are a mix of African and Carribean Indian, The Miskito are a mix of Garifuna and Mosquita Indians (Pech and Tawanka ) while Pech and Tawahka communities remain living there traditional lifestyles in remote regions with in the Biosphere.
This region has been occupied by humans for a long time. Over 80 archaeological sites are located in the biosphere. This includes mysterious petroglyphs carved into large boulders which are found along many rivers edges. The village Las Crucitas del Río Aner in the reserve's south-east is established over what is believed to be one of the largest and most impressive archaeological sites in the biosphere. Little is known about these archaeological sites and the unknown culture that made them. Local legends tell of the existence of a great ancient city in the area called "Ciudad Blanca". This city may still be waiting to be discovered in the Biosphere. Many archaeologists believe that this unknown culture played an important role between the ancient cultures of North and South America.
25% of the biosphere is a flat coastal plain made up of large areas of mangroves, the largest two areas being found around the large coastal lagoons of Brus (120 km²) and Ibans (63 km²) coastal savannas and wetlands that are found behind numerous long stretchs of beach make up the rest of this region.
About 75% of the Biosphere is mountainous with many steep ridges, Pico Morrañanga reaches 1500 m and Punta de Piedra 1326 m. Amazing geological formations are found in the inland region, such as the exposed El Viejo or Pico de Dama. Cascading waterfalls are found regurarly, the highest (100-150 m) being the Cascada del Mirador in the headwaters of the Cuyamel River. This large area mainly consists of tropical rainforest.
Tropical rainforests are broadleaf forests situated in the tropical and subtropical areas of the world. Tropical rainforests are highly endangered habitats all over the world, due to deforestation and uncontrolled development. Tropical rainforests have the highest biodiversity of all habitats on earth, being home to millions of different and many still undiscovered species. The genetic pool is one of the most important natural resources present on earth, winning more value every day due to the advancing biotechnology. Scientists have found on one hectare of rainforest some 200 different tree and shrub species. On one big rainforest tree biologists counted 54
species of ants, more than in the whole of England.
One of the secrets of the biodiversity of tropical rainforests is the appearance of a vertical organization of species. Up to five different levels of plants, including the forest canopy, are found. Each level is formed by specific species, and is populated by different animals.
In the higher regions pine and low lying cloudforest can be found, also in some of the high exposed regions small areas of rare elfin forest exist. The vegetation of the elfin forest has adapted to the poor soils and the strong carribean trade winds. Trees with some 100 years of age, that are normally found up to 40 mts tall in the lower parts of the biosphere, here only reach 3 to 5 meters. The trees are covered under a thick layer of mosses and lichens.
Some of the tree species found growing in the reserve include, Balsa, Ceiba, Guayacan, Mahogany, Rosewood, Sapodilla, Santa Maria, Cedar and Pine. It has been proven that the biosphere contains more tree species per square hectare than the Amazon jungle. A quite amazing fact.
The variety of ecosystems in the biosphere provides habitats for many endangered and rare species. The coastal and river areas are home to Manatees, Southern River Otters, Leather Back and Green Sea Turtles and Caiman. The forested areas are home to Baird's tapir; Jaguar, Ocelot, Margay Cat, Jaguarundi, Cougar, Collared and White- lipped Peccaries, White-faced, Howler and Spider Monkeys, White Tailed Deer, Two and Three Toed Sloth and Giant Anteaters just to name a few. The biosphere contains the largest populations in Honduras of most of these endangered species. The protection of the reserve is of great importance to the survival of each of these species.
Over 375 bird species are found in the biosphere. The biosphere is also visited by many migratory species. And is of great importance for them. Many rare species of birds that are found in the region can not be seen in other parts of the country. Species such as the Harpy Eagle, Aplomado Falcon, Great Green and Scarlet Macaws, Green and Rufous Kingfisher, Chestnut-Mandible Toucan, Yellow Eared Toucanet, Jabiru and the Black and White Hawk Eagle. Again the protection of the biosphere is of great importance to the survival of each of these species.
Visiting the Rio Platano Biosphere is an unforgetable experience, It is possible to visit this wonderful area independently but it is very difficult due to the areas remoteness and limited facilities. In a few of the communities Palacios, Las Marias, Playitas and Kuri local guides can be organised as can accommodation. The best obition for visiting the area is with a Tour Operator, the better companies know this area extremely well, and put together a once in a lifetime experience.
The natural resources of the Rio Platano Biosphere are under pressure, from logging of the areas valueable timber, from settlers using slash and burn agriculture and the expansion of cattle farming in the areas surrouding the biospheres core zone. Also as the local populations grow, more and more alternative, sustanible sources of income are needed. Eco Tourism is such an alternative. By visiting the biosphere you are contributing to the local economy, this is very important as the main source of income for these local communities are logging or slash and burn agriculture.
By visiting this area you play an important role, you are helping to protect and save this unique and beatiuful area and all the species that live here.
The tribe of the Pech is not well investigated. In pre-Columbian times the Pech lived in the center of what today is the Honduran Moskitia. The area of the Pech reached from the Aguans River over the Patuca River to the Cape Gracias a Dios.…Read More
The tribe of the Pech is not well investigated. In pre-Columbian times the Pech lived in the center of what today is the Honduran Moskitia. The area of the Pech reached from the Aguans River over the Patuca River to the Cape Gracias a Dios. In the interior of the country, they lived up to the north of what today is the department of Olancho.
Lehmann and other anthropologists are sure that the Pech also settled on the Bay Islands, based on a report from 1622 describing a Spanish mission to the mainland, where Indian people from the Bay Islands were used as translators and guides. And Stone and Epstein connects the archeological pieces found on the Bay Islands with the handicrafts of the Pech from the mainland. By the way: not only the Pech settled in the Bay Islands, but also some Mayan traders.
The legends of the Pech tell about there descendants: they are children of the lightning. The ancestors of the Pech lived as lightning and fought against Takasco, the leader of enormous cannibals. The warriors of Takasco where called Chaca Chacey, mighty crocodiles. An unknown hero who brought the corn, the agriculture and the medicine induced the creation of the Pech. Girard found out that the center of the Pech must have been the region of the Platano River, based on written symbols in big rocks forming monuments along the river (Petroglyphos). The Pech are also called Payas, Poyers and Pahayas. They are refuse to be called these names because they mean wild, uncivilized and barbarian. In fact, that was how the Spaniards called them. The Pech are name themselves "Pech" - people. Persons from other tribes are "Pech Akua" - other people, or "bula" - Latinos. Lehmann and Greenberg concluded that the language of the Pech was derived from the Chibcha language family. Other scientists are convinced that the Pech language is an isolated dialect without connection to other groups.
In the 16th century the Pech territory belonged to the province of Varaguas (or Cartago), reaching from Panama to the Cape Gracias a Dios. Afterwards, the Moskitia was ordered to be part of the province of Tegucigalpa. The Spaniards waited until the year 1564 to send the first expedition to the region of the Pech. The resistance of the Pech made the Spaniards conclude that the only way to conquer the area could be by the church.
During the middle of the 18th century the coast of the Moskitia was colonized by English, French and Hollandaise settlers. Fastly, they became friends with the Miskitos also they provided them with arms. The Miskitos used the guns against the other local tribes including the Pech. The Pech had no other obition but to flee to the interior of the mainland along the rivers Patuca, Platano, Sicre, Paulaya and Sico. The Miskitos followed even to these areas hunting and catching the Pech and selling them as slaves to british traders. The population of the Pech decreased instantly. The remaining Pech settled on the Platano River up to the mountains of the Sierra de Agalta. The Pech got accustomed to the constant man hunt made by the Miskitos and changed their lifestyle to a nomadic way of life. Their food consisted of fish and meat. agriculture was not highly developed, in the cultivacion of manioc or corn.
The older Pech say the life of the Pech went as follows: "For four centuries we the Pech have wandered through the forests of Agalta, taking refuge from white settlers and Miskitos, trying to avoid captivity and the life as slaves." The Pech learned perfectly how to survive under all circumstances. Their will to survive and to be independent helped them maintain parts of their culture and their language. Even when made to confess to the catholic religion, they still kept part of their own religion. But with the actual flood of settlers to the unpopulated forests of Olancho, the future of the Pech is now in danger. A lot of Pech are mixed with Miskitos, and less and less people are able to speak the language of the Pech.
The Miskitos are supposed to have their origin in the rainforests of South America, this is concluded from their language which is very similar to the dialects of the Chibcha family. The name Miskitos could have been derived from the word "mosquete", the guns…Read More
The Miskitos are supposed to have their origin in the rainforests of South America, this is concluded from their language which is very similar to the dialects of the Chibcha family. The name Miskitos could have been derived from the word "mosquete", the guns of the British settlers. The details of their history is not very clear; of course the Miskitos themselves claim that they have been Miskitos in the region for ever, but ethnologists and anthropologists have found evidences that the Miskitos are a mixture of local habitants like Tawahkas with European and African settlers, having their origin in the 17 century.
The scientist Linda Newson confirmed that historical documents or reports of the time before the Spanish arrival are unknown. The first document involving the Miskitos is dated from the year 1672, where a pirate named Exquemelin described a small community of some 1600 persons. Nine years later another pirate found a group of Miskitos with only some 100 men. They lived in the region of cape "Gracias a Dios" on the border between Honduras and Nicaragua. The diaries of the Nicaraguan archbishop could bring light into the darkness of the evolution of the Miskitos. He described the mixture of the Tawahka Indians with black shipwrecked slaves in the coral reefs of the Miskito Keys since the year 1641. The documents are telling the following:
"In 1641 a ship with black slaves got lost on the north coast between the mouth of the San Juan River, province of Nicaragua, and the town of Trujillo, province Honduras....... a third of the blacks returned, meanwhile the rest decided to enter the forest fighting with the vegetation, illnesses and Caribbean warriors, which defended their land in a bloody and brutal war. The blacks defeated the Caribbean local tribes which had to move back into the forests of Segovia and Chontales.... and they are enemies since those days until now...... With the women of the defeated Indians the blacks started to have children initiating a new tribe which was called by themselves Zambos. Zambos where descendents of Africans and local habitants."
Biological tests are supporting the theory of the archbishop comparing the blood groups of the Tawahkas and the Miskitos on the Rio Coco Segovia (the actual border between Honduras and Nicaragua). The anthropologists Matson and Swanson proofed that all Tawahkas do have the bloodgroup "0". Among the Miskitos some 90 % do have "0", the rest are tested as type "A" and "B".
In fact, a lot of arguments are confirming the results if the blood group investigations. The traditions and languages of Miskitos and Tawahkas are very similar. According to the legends of the Tawahkas, the fathers Mai-Sahana and Yapti-Misri were born out of a big stone in the Patuca River. They formed the Miskitos, the Tawahkas and the Ohlawas. The language of the Miskitos is very similar to the language of the Tawahkas. But meanwhile the Tawahkas developed strong local dialects from town to town, the Miskitos all use the same language, another sign that the Miskitos are much younger and derived from the Tawahkas. In difference to the Tawahkas, the Miskitos took over a lot of words of the Spanish and the English language, without loosing the African words. All those are indices that the Miskitos derived from the Tawahkas.
Starting from Cape "Gracias a Dios " the Zambo Miskitos extended themselves along the coast of Honduras and pushed the local Indian groups of Pech and Tawahka out of their territory. Described in the year 1774 the Miskitos where a numerous tribe found on the Cape Gracias a Dios, the Rio Coco Segovia, and the village of Sandy Bay domiciling their king. The composition of the Miskitos characterized by local differences. In the north and the west dominated the black Miskitos, influenced by blacks coming from other places of the coast. Meanwhile in the south the appearance of the local tribes was stronger. Scientists are concluding from this observation to the exact place where the blacks landed after have been shipwrecked.
The Miskitos initiated contacts with British pirates and traders operating in the Caribbean Sea during the 17 century. The Miskitos traded with legal and illegal materials as for example firearms and indian slaves caught in the interior of the country (normally Indians from the tribes Tawahka and Pech). This could be an explanation about why the relationship between Miskitos and the Tawahkas and Pech was bad. The government of the Miskitos was a kingdom, the king was the leader and holder of power and he represented the Miskito interests to the foreigners. The king was the chief of the army and the highest judge. The British respected the position of the Miskito King and celebrated his coronation in one of their headquarters in the region, Belize or Jamaica. In the reality, the king had no power over the politics in his own territory, he was a marionette of the British crown to maintain the local population calm. The British never tried to involve themselves in the local Miskito affairs and left the impression of complete autonomy of the Miskito region, the local life never changed because of the British presence, and finally the Miskitos were satisfied with their king and their life. During the mid 19th century some changes occurred in the Moskitia: the British changed the capital of the Miskitos from Sandy Bay to Bluefields, capital of the department Moskitia. The political development of the Miskitos formed more and more a state which was strongly influenced by British businessmen, settlers and politicians.
The Miskitos changed their life from warriors to traders of indian rubber, fish and wood, helped by missioners of the German Evangelian Moravian church since 1849. Also, the missioners achieved the production of the bible in the Miskito language, saving this language for the next generations. Actually, the Miskitos are the biggest ethnic group of the Moskitia with some 40000 people.