What is it about?

We monitored parrot and macaw visitation to various 'claylicks' in the lowland Amazon Rainforest of Peru, as well as boats passing these sites, and tourists visiting to view the birds. There was evidence that birds fed less, changed feeding sites, and engaged in more anti-predatory responses when boats approached too close, and the type of boat also changed these responses. Generally, on-foot traffic to viewing blinds did not change overall feeding patterns, but birds changed feeding locations when blinds were not used, or fed less when blind capacity was exceeded. In general, tourism at these sites is sustainable, as long as guidelines are adhered to.

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Why is it important?

Claylicks, where a variety of animals congregate to consume soil rich in sodium, are beautiful and predictable wildlife events that create a visually rewarding experience with high value to the eco-tourism industry. Visits to these sites are a standard part of the itinerary by most tourism operators in the Tambopata region of Peru. However, it is clear that if these sites are not respected, this can result in animals avoiding these sites, with negative repercussions for both animals and tourists.


I have been privileged to spend hundreds of hours of my life watching birds visiting riverside claylicks, and much of this research was supported by eco-tourism companies (notably Rainforest Expeditions, Inotawa, and Explorer's Inn). Maintaining these sites is vitally important, for birds and people. I am very worried about the extraction of hard wood, where birds nest: will these amazing wildlife spectacles continue to exist in the face of deforestation, selective logging that removes nesting sites, that will inevitably lead to population decreases.

Dr Alan Tristram Kenneth Lee
University of Cape Town

Read the Original

This page is a summary of: The effects of tourist and boat traffic on parrot geophagy in lowland Peru, Biotropica, August 2017, Wiley,
DOI: 10.1111/btp.12426.
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