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January - March 2009 lime 33 HARPY EAGLE With a 6ft wingspan and 18lbs of weight, the largest eagle in the Americas easily preys on monkeys and sloths. GIANT ANTEATER The long nose, bushy tail, and galloping gait of the world's largest anteater make it one of Guyana's most distinct and spectacular creatures. LL PETE OXFORD/ NATUREPL. COM DAVID TIPLING/ NATUREPL. COM

GUYANA Morawhauna Mabaruma Port Kaituma Matthew's Ridge Imbaimadai Charity Spring Garden Arimu Mine Peters Mine New Amsterdam Springlands Parika Rosignol Mara RockstoneLinden Bartica Karatabu Point Issano Potaro Landing Mahdia Ituni Kalkuni Takama Apoere OrinduikKurupukari Kwakwani Annai Apotar Good Hope Letham Normandia Bonfi m Wichabai Read Isherton Biloku Oronoquekamp 32 lime January - March 2009 ISLAND PROFILE Within Guyana, part of the Guiana Shield – 2.5 million square kilometres of the world's largest remaining tract of mostly undisturbed rainforest – and the Amazon Basin converge to create an enticing mix of ecosystems. Besides the rainforests that carpet roughly 80 per cent of the country, there are exotic mangroves, wild coastal swamps, rugged Atlantic beaches, lofty mountain ranges and sprawling savannahs. With 83,000 square miles and only 770,000 inhabitants who live mostly along the coast – a mere fi ve per cent of the land mass – the majority of Guyana is virtually unpopulated outside of the Amerindian villages, home to Guyana's indigenous peoples. What remains is one of the world's most unspoiled natural wilderness areas that harbours a remarkable diversity of fl ora and fauna, including more than 225 species of mammals, 880 species of reptiles and amphibians, 815 species of birds and 6,500 species of plants. That morning at Iwokrama, as I stared at the seemingly impenetrable forest it dawned on me that the ants, cats, birds, monkeys, trees – all of it – were part of an ecosystem that has been thriving for millions of years. Throughout the world, the human race has conquered and claimed for itself, but much of Guyana has remained untouched, and this is the reason to visit. Much of Guyana's fl ora and fauna can be found at eco- lodges, resorts and villages throughout the country; those included in my tour that follows are only a small cross- section of some of it's more well- known destinations and the key species that can be seen there. THE NORTHWEST The northwestern region of Guyana is fi lled with beautiful waterways, dense forests, rolling GIANT RIVER OTTER The world's largest otters are known for a social lifestyle, sleek fur, and razor- sharp teeth that tear through piranha and caiman. KK JAGUAR Locally called ' tiger', the largest cat in the western hemisphere can reach sizes of 1.25m in length and weigh upwards of 70kg. LL TAPIR South America's largest native mammal is locally called the ' bush cow', but its gray hair, downward- curving, trunk- like snout, and mohawk of black hair are muppet- like. Guyana factfile AREA: 215,000 sq km ( 83,000 sq miles) CAPITAL: Georgetown CLIMATE: Tropical, pleasant and warm for most of the year, humid, moderated by northeast trade winds; two rainy seasons ( May to June, November to January). Average temperatures 24- 31 degrees Celcius COUNTRY DIALLING CODE: 592 LANGUAGES: English, Creole, Amerindian dialects, Caribbean Hindustani ( a dialect of Hindi), Urdu MONEY: Guyana dollar ( GYD$); GYD$ 100 = US$ 0.49 POPULATION: 770,000 BUSINESS HOURS: 0800- 1700 ( Mon- Fri, noon Sat) OFFICIAL TIME: Atlantic Standard Time ( 4 hours behind GMT) DEPARTURE TAX: GYD$ 4,000 ( paid for at the airport) Guyana is home to 2.5 million square kilometres of mostly undisturbed rainforest LL HEINER HEINE/ IMAGEBROKER/ FLPA SA TEAM/ FN/ MINDEN/ FLPA STEFFAN WIDSTRAND/ NATUREPL. COM • GEORGETOWN