Wildlife

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Our second full day in the Amazon on our International Expeditions River Cruise started at the crack of dawn, as we left on our skiffs for an early morning birdwatching expedition on a small tributary of the Ucayali River. We saw dozens of species along the way, but the light was largely too low (or the birds too far away) for good photos, even with my 400mm lens. But this gorgeous Dusky Headed Parakeet proved remarkably cooperative, posing atop a stump near the water.

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You will see many different species of monkeys on International Expeditions’ Amazon River cruises, but few compare to the uakari. This endangered animal stands out from the crowd with distinct features including a red face, short tail and bald head. IUCN Redlist classifies all three subspecies of the uakari as vulnerable, just one step away from being endangered. When the animals become excited, their faces flush. This may be a tactic for attracting mates, as pale skin is often a sign a uakari monkey is sick.

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Vulturine guineafowl are found throughout East Africa, and these birds are the largest and most colorful guineafowl species. Their unique plumage makes it easy to spot the birds in the dry grasslands and plains on your Kenya and Tanzania safari. The birds, which stand just over two feet tall, have large bodies similar to the shape of emus and quails, but their near-featherless heads, bold red eyes and long necks make it obvious they belong in the same class as vultures.

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Iguana, piranha fishing and capped heron...and it was just Day 1 of Bret and Mary's Amazon River cruise with IE! Co-Founded by Bret Love & Mary Gabbett, Green Global Travel is a website devoted to ecotourism, nature/wildlife conservation & sustainable living.

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Many distinct animals make their homes in South America's Andes mountain range, including the brilliantly colored Rupicola peruviana - commonly known as the Andean cock-of-the-rock. And since Peru is home to the most known bird species in the world, the Andean cock-of-the rock had to beat out some impressive species to earn the title of “national bird. ” The main reasons this bird was chosen above the other hundreds of bird species found in Peru are its striking plumage and unique mating rituals.

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Alligators are some of the most dangerous predators in the world, and few are more feared than the black caiman. These semi-aquatic reptiles are the largest alligator species on the planet, and the deadliest killers in the Amazon rainforest. They tend to stick to shallow waters, so your Amazon River cruise guides will be on the look-out for these creatures on skiff excursions through the South American jungles.

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In February, researchers conducted a 10-day census of carnivores in the ecosystems of Amboseli and Kilimanjaro National Parks on the border of Kenya and Tanzania. The African Wildlife Fund, Kenya Wildlife Service and Tanzania Wildlife Division are working together to collect information on a number of large carnivore species living in this region of East Africa.

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Amazon River cruises are ideal for bird watchers and anyone else who enjoys nature travel. When you think of jungle birds, you may first picture toucans and parrots, but there are many other winged creatures living among the trees in the Amazon, including the hoatzin. This bird's many distinct characteristics have caused scientists to reclassify the species in different orders, since it doesn't seem to quite fit into any one group in particular.

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When Charles Darwin visited the Galapagos, he was repulsed by the marine iguanas, famously referring to them in his journal as “imps of darkness.” But these “disgusting, clumsy lizards” were one of the keys that helped Darwin unlock the secrets of his theory of evolution. Galapagos marine iguanas are the only aquatic lizards in the world, and Darwin surmised they were able to adapt their ability to swim and dive for food to suit their habitat.

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