Southwild is the first wildlife company to be owned and operated by a world-class field biologist.
Over the past 30 years Dr. Charles Munn has created most of the major new wildlife destinations in South America.
The formula for creating unique wildlife adventures is simple but incredibly difficult:
Think like the animal. Brad Pitt’s character in A River Runs Through It says it will be two years until he can think like a fish. SouthWild’s scientists and guides can already think like jaguars, pumas, ocelots, condors, harpy eagles, macaws and even giant anteaters. Their years of training and field experience allow them to anticipate natural behaviors and discover even the most elusive wildlife. And they are aided by one of the largest global networks of scientific advisers.
Persuade the community. Parks and guards never protect animals as well as a community which understands that they are worth more alive than dead. South America’s wild animals, particularly the predators, are often still regarded and hunted as pests. SouthWild sometimes take years to persuade local people that the wildlife, if visible, can generate economic value much greater than the cost of damaged crops or cattle. It is even possible to turn bad hombres like poachers into zealous guides and guardians for the animals.
- Fight the right battles. Regulators and even some environmentalists frequently behave like foolish parents who refuse their children vaccines, not realizing that exposure is the only way to protect them. Exposure is the only way to effectively protect wildlife and sometimes SouthWild has to battle for years to be allowed to do it. But the legal team is headed up by one of Brazil’s best negotiators and SouthWild is winning far more battles than it is losing.
Have good friends. SouthWild is greatly aided by an intensely loyal community of clients and travel operators who are as passionate about wildlife adventures and conservation as we are. It allows SouthWild to promote new destinations and animals with minimal marketing effort.
Dr. Charles Munn is a field biologist who in 1984 earned a PhD at Princeton in evolution and ecology.
From 1984 to 2000, Charlie researched in the Amazon for the New York Zoological Society. His specialties were the biology of macaws and Giant Otters and the creation of new parks. From 1980 to 2000, Charlie led teams that created 15 million acres of Amazonian protected areas, an area that is equivalent in size to all the national parks of the western USA (or 15% the size of California). Burning of rainforests releases 20% of all carbon emitted into the atmosphere per year, and creating new national parks help slow deforestation, which helps slow climate change.
To help slow carbon release, in 2010, Charlie founded SouthWild, a South American travel company that has cracked the code on how to guarantee close-up viewing of Jaguars, Mountain Lions, Harpy Eagles and other top predators. The first person ever to offer a “Jaguar Guarantee”, Munn’s pioneering work in showcasing that 350-pound cat has led to the creation of 1,000 conservation-based jobs in one small corner of the Pantanal of Brazil. Each of the 50 habituated Jaguars there now is worth $1 mm per year to the country of Brazil.
Munn discovered a new parrot species for science, went undercover in South America to break up macaw-smuggling rings, and has been featured in two cover stories in National Geographic and in Emmy-award-winning TV documentaries. In 1994, TIME Magazine named Charlie “one of the planet’s 100 young leaders for the new millennium”, a list that also included Bill Gates and Condoleezza Rice.
Mariana Valqui is a Peruvian-German dual national who in 1995 earned a Bachelor’s of Science degree in Environmental Sciences from the University of Virginia.
She then immediately co-founded Peru Verde, one of the most important wildlife conservation organizations in Latin America. Mariana led Peru Verde in its purchase of 13,000 acres of critical cloud forest on the road next to Manu National Park and at Sandoval Lake in Tambopata National Reserve. Protection of these lands is paid for by ecotourism lodges built and operated by Peru Verde’s business units. These lodges represent the most extensive system of conservation tourism lodges in Latin America.
Additionally, Mariana was the driving force that led to the creation in 1997 of the Conservation Group for Flamingos of the High Andes (GCFA), which consists of a network of field scientists who monitor the conservation of the three spectacular flamingo species that are confined to Argentina, Peru, Bolivia and Chile.
Decades of simultaneous censuses carried out by GCFA in the South-Central Andes has produced the first global population counts for the globally-threatened Andean and James Flamingos. GCFA also is promoting legislation to create conservation units in key breeding locations of these endangered flamingos.
In 2010, Mariana co-founded SouthWild to help expand the notable successes of Peru Verde in adding value to wildlife and wilderness in South America.