Overhunting and habitat destruction have seriously depleted populations of wild animals in much of South America. Almost all wild species are less abundant than they were before the mid-20th century, and some are threatened with extinction. Laws designed to protect wildlife frequently are not observed. In addition, many rural people, especially in tropical-forest areas, still depend on game as a source of food; and the sale of live animals for pets or laboratory use has further depleted stocks. Populations of animals not considered economically valuable have been reduced as their forest habitats have been removed.
Nature reserves, established to protect animals in their habitat, are now found in most South American countries. Argentina pioneered wildlife protection on the continent by creating Nahuel Huapí National Park. At Iguaçu (Iguazú) Falls—located on the Iguaçu River on the border between Brazil and Argentina, just before the confluence of the Iguaçu and Paraná rivers—two national parks, one in each country, protect wildlife and the surrounding rain forest.
Manu National Park in southeastern Peru protects one of the richest collections of plant and animal life in the Amazon basin, including more than 1,000 species of birds.
Venezuela’s effort to protect habitats led to the establishment (1962) of Canaima National Park in the Guiana Highlands, which with an area of nearly 11,600 square miles is the largest park on the continent. Overall, South America has about 58,000 square miles of parks, but the inviolability of many of these sanctuaries against the pressures of economic development has not been clearly established in all countries. "South America" © Emmanuel BUCHOT, Encarta, Wikipedia
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