Overall, the area is a key component of the biological corridor conserving Peru’s extreme northern natural environments. It borders the Pacific tropical forest (protected as a reserved zone) towards the north and the dry forests (in El Angolo Game Preserve) to the south. Because of its importance, the park makes up the Noroeste Biosphere Reserve’s core zone (5).
This northern equatorial dry forest is made up of many Amazonian flora that seem to have transcended the eastern Andes, but it also has its own vegetative species. The Amotapes Mountain Range is an extremely old formation geologically speaking, and its fauna and flora present an interesting combination of native species and migrants that ended up adapting and remaining in the region (6).
Scientists have registered 404 species in the park’s five habitats including bushes, vines, epiphytes, and herbaceous plants (7). There are 44 tree species (8).
The very dry tropical forest has relatively skinny trees full of epiphytic bromeliads, shrubs, cacti, and herbaceous plants—mostly grasses of varying densities. Species include Ceiba trischistrandra, Eriotheca ruizii, Tabebuia sp., Loxopterygium huasango. The very dense understory has species like Cordia lutea.
The spiny tropical scrubland is very dry and hot. Plants growing in this habitat include, in almost equal proportions, small trees, shrubs, and cacti. In the habitat’s humid areas, species include Ceiba trischistrandra, Eriotheca ruizii, and Tabebuia sp. In the driest areas, species include Capparis mollis, Prosopis pallida, Caesalpinia paipai, and Bursera graveolens.
There is only a very small patch of premontane tropical desert matorral. Here, trees do not grow very tall, sometimes they are even extremely stumpy such as Prosopis pallida, Bursera graveolens, Capparis angulata and Capparis mollis. There are also sparse grasses with short growing stages. Finally, there are cacti such as Armatocereus cartwrigthianus in this habitat.
The park’s most humid habitat with the most biodiversity is the dry tropical forest. There are two transitional formations within this life zone: premontane tropical forest and subtropical forest. There forests are tall with both evergreen and deciduous species. The most common species are Cedrela montana and Ceiba trischistrandra.
The dry premontane tropical forest is found in the highest mountainous elevations of the Amotape Range. The vegetation is either tall forest or savannahs. Most common trees and shrubs associated with this area include Caesalpinia paipai, Tabebuia sp. and Terminalia valverdae (9).
The fauna is varied; there are species from the Peruvian coastal desert, the Pacific tropical forest, and the Andean Range (10). The park does not have high rates of biodiversity; rather it has a large number of endemic species. Species found in no other area of Peru include the Crocodylus acutus and Lutra longicaudis, both of which are endangered (11).
The crocodiles, and closely related caimans, are the only survivors of the prehistoric archosaurs reptile group. The American crocodile is the only crocodile species inhabiting Peru and America. It can grow to 7 m and weigh close to a half of a ton. Yet, because of overhunting during the last decades, the populations have been severely reduced and large individuals are extremely rare, if they exist at all, in nature. Habitat destruction is threatening this species even further; today it is on the verge of extinction (12).
The Noroeste Biosphere Reserve’s natural protected areas have 307 registered bird species, 63 mammal species, 28 amphibian species, and 44 reptile species. Species characteristic of Cerros de Amotape National Park include Pseudalopex sechurae, Odocoileus virginianus, Puma concolor, Tayassu tajacu, Iguana iguana, and Aratinga erythrogenis (13).
Threatened wildlife species inhabiting the protected area include mammals such as Felis colocolo, Felis pardalis, Felis yagouaroundi, Pantera onca, Tamandua mexicana, Tremarctos ornatus; birds such as Brotogeris pyrrhopterus, Falco peregrinus, Forpus xanthops, Ortalis erythroptera, Penelope albipennis, Phalacrocorax olivaceus, Pionus chalcopterus, Sarcoramphus papa, Vultur gryphus; and reptiles such as Crocodylus acutus, and Boa constrictor (14).