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Reserva Nacional de Paracas

Site Facts

Country, State, Province/Region:

Peru, Department of Ica

Relative Location:

District of Paracas, 200 km southeast of Lima


13.83 S, 76.28 W



Basis for Designation:

More than 20,000 shorebirds annually.


335,000 hectares (827,803 acres)


May 1991

Site Owner/Steward:

National Institute of Natural Resources

Site Partners:


Human Population within 100 km:



Bió. Cynthia Céspedes Madalengoitia
Chief, Paracas National Reserve



The Paracas National Reserve was designated a WHSRN Site of Regional Importance in 1991 because of its importance as a stopover and staging area for a great diversity of Nearctic shorebirds, some with populations in a state of decline. This reserve marks the southernmost part of the Western Sandpiper (Calidris mauri)’s Pacific distribution range. The site is a desert coast along a very productive ocean. The area contains sandy beaches, rocky intertidal zones, and rocky cliffs. 

High Counts from the International Shorebird Survey (ISS) include (total shorebirds):

10,000 birds on January 28, 1978 (P. Donahue);
13,692 birds on February 7, 1978 (P. Donahue), and
"ca. 50,000" birds on September 1, 1978 (K. Anderson).

Dominant species are Sanderling (Calidris alba), Western Sandpiper (Calidris mauri), Semipalmated Sandpiper (Calidris pusilla), and Black-bellied Plover (Pluvialis squatarola).

Aerial censuses by the Canadian Wildlife Service (1985) revealed 7,700 Calidris alba (8.1% of the Pacific coast population). Morrison and Ross recommended the reserve for WHSRN incorporation as a regional site based on percentage criteria. There are tens of thousands of shorebirds that feed about 15 miles north at the Río Pisco Mouth, and spend the night within the reserve boundaries. These birds are not included in any of the diurnal censuses mentioned above. If included, the total number of shorebirds in Paracas would reach close to 100,000 birds.

The Paracas National Reserve is the most important point along the Peruvian coast for many species of mammals, including two species of seals, 160 species of birds, and numerous fish and shellfish. It hosts large colonies of guano birds.

In the News

Improving the Conservation of the Paracas WHSRN Site

Strengthening Shorebird Conservation at Peruvian WHSRN Sites

Ecology & Conservation

The Paracas National Reserve is considered one of the most important in Peru, by Peruvian authorities and non-governmental organizations. It therefore always receives extensive media attention. This prominence among protected areas in Peru is an important asset that helps facilitate its conservation.


Bió. Cynthia Céspedes Madalengoitia
Chief, Paracas National Reserve

Lic. Luis Alfaro Lozano
Chief, National Protected Natural Areas Service of Peru (SERNANP, in Spanish)

Additional Resources

Programa Nacional de Parques Nacionales de Peru y el Vice Ministerio de Turismo, Fondo de Promoción Turistica. 1992. Plan Operativo Bianual: Reserva Nacional de Paracas. 

Red Hemisférica de Reservas para Aves Playeras. 1988. Taller de Trabajo para Gestores Ambientales. 266 p.

Rivera Tosi, J. Editor. 1992. Paracas: Manual de Aves. Fundación Peruana para Conservación de la Naturaleza y la Red Hemisférica de Reservas Para Aves Playeras. 39 pp.

Sallaberry, M. J Arenas, E. Flores, C. Guillén, J Quispe, A. Novak, J. Ortiz y M. Ushiñahua. 1991. Censos de Aves Limícolas y Marinas en la Bahía de la Reserva Nacional de Paracas. El Volante Migratorio No 17. pp. 16-36.