Rio Cauto, a river treasure in the eastern region

Rio Cauto, a river treasure in the eastern region

Environment

Alina Gomez

When we talk about rivers in Cuba, the name of Cauto immediately  arises, the longest in the Caribbean island and the Antilles, 343 kilometers long, home to a rich biodiversity, and also of history. 

Due to the configuration of the island's territory - narrow and elongated, like an alligator -and the keys that surround it and belong to it-, the Caribbean country does not have its rivers as great economic resources, for example, in electricity production.

But it promotes day-to-day life from a privileged nature, conceive future projects for the conservation of such great environment and show visitors of the eastern region of the country. The waterway begins at 600 meters above sea level in the town of La Estrella, Santiago de Cuba territory, crosses the provinces of Las Tunas, Holguín and Granma, and empties into the southeastern Gulf of Guacanayabo, in the Caribbean Sea.

Aboriginal communities settled on its margins in pre-Columbian times, pirates used their current for smuggling and from 1550, with the founding of the town Cauto Embarcadero, trade in the eastern region grew. 

Its 9,540-square-kilometer basin is home to around a million people, who use its waters in different ways, including agricultural purposes.

Territories of the provinces of Granma and Las Tunas constitute the Delta of Cauto protected area, of 66,370 hectares, a Wildlife Refuge with international recognition as a Ramsar Site and an Important Area for the Conservation of Birds (IBA).

In its wide biodiversity, 163 bird species stand out, with 11 endemic, among them the long-tailed hawk (Accipiter gundlachi), catey (Aratinga euops), tocororo (Priotelus temnurus), churroso woodpecker (Colaptes fernandinae) and flamingo (Phoenicopterus ruber).

The irrational exploitation of its resources in the past and climatic factors affected the ecosystem, with measures against desertification, reforestation and waste treatment, in national projects and with the support of international organizations.

A natural symbol of Cuba, the Cauto River offers varied possibilities to know and enjoy this privileged territory, such as archaeological sites, bird watching, hiking, fishing, nautical tours ... and contact with its hospitable people.