ABOUT THE SOROPTA PENINSULA.
Located on the N.E. Carribbean side of Panama is the Bocas Del Toro archipelago and adjoining coastal shores. This is a sub tropical area of primary and secondary rainforest, coastal forest and beaches fronted by coral reefs.
The Soropta peninsula is an approximately 1,000 acre spur of land that marks the northern limit of the Bocas Islands. It is separated from the mainland by an old canal dating to the 1800’s and the extensive Pondsock National nature preserve . Due to its isolated location and the presence of tropical terrestrial, freshwater aquatic and marine ecosystems the peninsula supports extremely diverse fauna and flora, greater in fact than most of the islands.The avifauna is especially rich with nearly 200 species recorded to date. Rare seabirds such as the brown booby and red billed tropicbirds are present in the area, as are five parrot species, four antibirds, two toucan, eight hummingbird, eleven flycatchers, twelve wading birds, ten tanagers and fifteen species of raptors. Also the extemely rare black collared hawk has recently been sighted along the canal.The peninsula also has a very rich herpetofauna which includes the rare eyelash viper which is particularily abundant.
The peninsula and adjacent waters are also home to many rare, endangered or threatened species. Living on the peninsula or in its adjacent waters, there are at least 40 species of vertebrae that are currently protected by CITES ( Convention on the International Trade of Endangered Species) or by Panamanian law. Some of the animals protected include three species of monkeys, both crocodilians, four species of marine turtle that nest on the peninsula’s beaches (leatherback, green, hawksbill and loggerhead), all of the raptors, the keel billed toucan, all of the parrots, the poison dart frog, the green iguana, boa constrictor and the eyelash viper.
The peninsula has been owned by one Panamanian family since 1917, and except for four buildings built over twenty five years ago, and approximatly 68 acres of cleared pasture land from over thirty years ago the land is untouched, undisturbed and free of logging or hunting damage.
In the last thirty years this region at large has been subjected to a great deal of indescriminate logging and clearing . This, combined with extensive hunting of wildlife by the local population has severely impacted the ecosystem in the general area. Over the past ten years, and particularily in the past three, a new danger has appeared in the form of a booming tourism and real estate market that is leading to large parts of the archipelago being snatched up for higher and higher density developments. All this has begun to heavily impact the wildlife and fauna in the region.
WHY IS IT IMPORTANT TO ACT NOW AND PRESERVE THIS PENINSULA ?
For the past 88 years this peninsula has been like a time capsule isolated from human impact. Its lowland rainforest, rafia palm swamps and undisturbed beaches and reefs now constitute the last truly significant parcels of preserved land in private hands. It truly is the ‘crown jewel’ of this particular region. Now the elderly owner is seeking to sell and the danger is that the land will be purchased for indiscriminate tourism and real estate development. This would lead to the destruction of this priceless ecosystem and all of its wildlife and fauna. Large parts of the Bocas region have already met this fate at the hands of such developers.
I have been offered the opportunity to purchase this unique property directly from the owner before it is offered on the open market. My intent is to create a private nature preserve that would be a partnership between preservation, research, study and true conscious eco tourism carefully managed to ensure this ecosystem remains for future generations.
I am seeking a donor or donors that would partner with me in raising two million dollars needed to purchase and protect this peninsula.
Sincerely , Peter Winn, San Diego California.
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