Naso Tjerdi – a brief explanation of the Naso people

The River Teribe and its tropical rainforests have been the homeland of the indigenous tribe of the „Naso“ (Teribes). The river marks the central element of the Naso community spiritually and by means of transportation. The name Teribe is derived from the Naso word „Tjerdi“ which is translated as river of the grandmother. The indigenous tribe counts a population of about 3525 people and is the last monarchy of the Americas. The Naso currently live in 12 small villages, Santa Rosa (pop. 200), So Di (pop. 200), Bon Llik (pop. 500), Solon (pop. 400), Dwluy Llik (pop. 150), Kuy Kin (pop. 100), Shey Llik (pop. 500), Shey King (pop. 500), Loma Bandera (pop. 75), San Dluy (pop. 500) and San San (pop. 200). The Naso capital Siellik and the largest settlement Sieyik are positioned across from each other along the river Teribe from each. They mark the entry into old, abandoned settlements of their ancestors upstream and primary rainforest habitat. During the last centuries the Naso had moved their settlements further downstream closer to the province capital Changuinola. The ancient and traditional settlements further upstream such as Shublollik can be identified by river banks planted with banana and other agricultural plants. These areas today are frequently visited on foot and by boat for purposes of harvesting and limited fishing and hunting. The lack of roads to the heart of the Naso homeland has saved the Naso culture from diminishing into „latino“ culture and saved the rainforest habitat from logging, cattle farming, extensive tourism, industrial or residential development. Nevertheless their homeland is under pressure from cattle ranches, hydroelectric dams and the neighboring, expanding Ngobe Bugle tribe. The Nasos unlike other tribes in Panama do not have a Comarca (semi-autonomous territory). They have been seeking recognition of their homeland and have been applying for a Comarca over the past 40 years. Sieykin and 8 other Naso villages can only be reached by boat or walking rainforest trails.



Publikation zur Tapirforschung in Bearbeitung – „Occurrence of Tapirus Bairdi in the settlement area of the indigenious tribe Naso along the River Teribe in Bocas del Toro, Panama“

Unter Mitwirkung von Lydia Möcklinghoff und Johanna Schultz haben wir die Tapirdaten aus Unserer Studie „Dbon Tjang Pjak Yo“ auf das Vorkommen des stark bedrohten Bairds Tapirs und anthropogene Einflüsse auf seine Verbreitung im Siedlungsgebiet des Naso Volkes untersucht und bereiten eine wissenschaftliche Publikation vor. In Anbetracht der Tatsache, daß die Bestandszahlen des Bairds Tapir in seinem Verbreitungsgebietes stark rückläufig sind, hat die Tapirforschung absolute Priorität. Derzeit arbeitet die Studentin und Angehörige des Naso Volkes Stephanie an Ihrer Bachelorarbeit und versucht Tapirbestandszahlen über die Identifizierung von Inividuen zu generieren. Hier vorab das Abstract in Rohfassung:

Occurrence of Tapirus Bairdi in the settlement area of the indigenious tribe Naso along the River Teribe in Bocas del Toro, Panama  

„Parque Internacional La Amistad“, Cordillera Talamanca, Tapirus Bairdii  

Jörn Ziegler, Johanna Schultz, Lydia Möcklinghoff  


In a mammal species diversity camera-trap survey within the settlement area of the Naso indigenous tribe in Bocas del Toro, Panama over the course of one year 77 videos of the endangered Baird`s tapir (Tapirus Bairdii), resulting in a relative abundance index of 0,36 per 1000 trapping nights, were recorded. Part of the area along the river Teribe is within the UNESCO World Natural Heritage Site „Parque Internacional La Amistad“ (*PILA) and has not yet been subject to scientific studies. The largest forest tract remaining in central America could serve as an important habitat for the survival of the species in the wild. The Nasos have lived in this area and protected its biodiversity. Generally indigenous territories are the last strongholds for the Tapirus Bardii species in Panama. Hydroelectric projects in that area have led to a higher degree of human influence and presence.  

Population numbers of tapirus bairdi have been cut in half over the past 30 years. Through deforestation, fragmentation, and hunting, the numbers of Tapirus Bardii have dropped to only about 3000 individuals and the species is currently marked as endangered (UNESCO). This article examines the tapir specific data from the survey in order to find out the possible influence of the Naso settlements on tapirs population distribution in order to better understand and protect the species. With one exception Tapirus Baiirdi was absent in areas within a 10 km aerial radius to the nearest village, which aligns with other studies, that show the avoidance of human settlement areas by Tapirs. Tapir documentation took place in 10,35 km to 15,67 km distance to the settlement. Elevation of tapir documentations ranged from 507 m to 962 m above sea level. Tapir activity patterns were analysed and showed highest activity between 5 pm and 5 am. This article attempts to give recommendations for further studies in cooperation with the local conservation initiative named ODESEN (Organización de Desarollo Sostenible y Eotúrismo Naso).  

Stand beim Tag des guten Lebens in Köln am 15.09.2019


Dieses Jahr stehen wir mit UNserem Stand in der Themenwelt „Globales Engagement“ an der Ecke Venloer Str. / Hospeltstr. am Sonntag, 15.09.2019 von 11-19Uhr auf dem Tag des guten Lebens in Köln-Ehrenfeld. Mit Arepas vom Grill, veganen Aufstrichen und einer Panelalimonade ist für das leibliche Wohl gesorgt. Für Spiel, Spaß und Spannung sorgt ein Kamerafallenrätsel. Wir sammeln Spenden und freuen Uns auf Besuch ! Alle Aktionen und Stände sind dem beigefügten Programmheft zu entnehmen.

„Dbon Tjang Pjak Yo – assessment of mammal species abundance in the traditional settlement area of the indigenous tribe Naso along the river Teribe (Ziegler, J. 2015)“

Abstract : The project named “Dbon Tjang Pjak Yo” was carried out by the Naso organization „ODESEN“ (Organizacion para el desarollo del Ecoturismo Naso) in cooperation with the german conservation organization „F.A.W.N. Deutschland e.V.“ (First Aid for Wonderful Nature) between August 2014 and August 2015. The name „Dbon Tjang Pjak Yo“ means „Jaguar project“ in the Naso language and refers to the jaguar as the apex predator and umbrella species among wildlife in Panama. The Naso organization ODESEN has been fostering cultural and ecological preservation over the past ten years. Odesen runs an ecotourism lodge named “Wekso” on the ruins of the old military jungle training camp called “Pana Jungla” in an agreement with the National Environmental Authority (ANAM). The organization serves as an entry for visitors to enter and explore Naso culture and the fauna and flora in the region. Using camera traps the objective of the project was to document diversity in mammal species, specifically feline species (panthera onca, puma concolor, leopardus pardalis, leopardus wiedii, puma yagouarundi) and endangered species occurring in the traditional Naso homeland along the Teribe river. Most important the motivation of this project was to deliver the Naso tribe a record of their natural richness and biodiversity which the tribe could utilize in their fight against further hydroelectric development and for cultural, geographical and political recognition.

The camera trap videos were also used to record activity patterns and to find out whether proximity of human settlements and activity had any influence on a species abundance, behavior and activity. The UNESCO has rewarded the Naso for their stewardship over the area. It was one of the objectives of this project to prove the value of this statement, to find out about possible conflicts and about the Naso`s role in protecting or diminishing wildlife populations. While areas inhabited by humans tend to suffer a loss in wildlife diversity it was questioned whether the Naso culture allows a more or less sustainable way of coexistence between wildlife and humans. Taking into consideration the close interaction of the Naso culture with their natural environment recording wildlife in their ancestral homeland also served to promote cultural identification. Local guides played the most important role for the projects execution. Their knowledge was highly valued throughout the project and showed future possible employment opportunities linking conservation work with financial compensation. Camera trapping videos were shown to local students to educate the students on wildlife species and more importantly to generate an empathic relationship with animal species fostering future local efforts in conservation, sustainable development and cultural identification. 

2114 trapping nights were accumulated over a time span of 293 days at 73 different sites in 10 areas. The project documented 25 medium to large sized mammal species including all 5 feline species of Panama as well as a population of the endangered Baird`s Tapir with a relative abundance index of 3,6 per 100 trapping nights. Further analysis of data revealed that some species such as the White lipped Peccary as well as the Baird`s Tapir do not tolerate human activity. Both species were present in the Shey region. While the camera trap videos were used to build empathy with wildlife among Naso school children we also questioned the Nasos influence on wildlife abundance as well as the tribe`s attitude towards the large feline species Jaguar and Puma.


«Jaguar» in Naso dem Volk am Rio Teribe, Bocas del Toro, Panama.