Table-top mountains that inspired animated movie Up among the world's most vulnerable nature reserves, say scientists

  • The Formaciones de Tepuyes included in top ten 'irreplaceable' sites
  • The table-top mountains of Venezuela inspired 2009 film Up
  • It is included in list of 78 sites critical to preventing species' extinction

The Formaciones de Tepuyes, a nature reserve in Venezuela that inspired Disney Pixar’s Up, has been identified as one of the Earth’s most vulnerable nature reserves by scientists.

The Tepuyes, or ‘the table-top mountains’ in English, are the ‘real-life’ Paradise Falls from the 2009 film, and have been branded irreplaceable following an analysis of the planet’s nature reserves.

It is included in a list of 78 sites in 34 countries most critical to preventing extinctions of the world’s mammals, birds and amphibians.

Paradise (nearly) lost: Angel Falls and Mount Auyantepuy are among the Formaciones de Tepuyes in Venezuela which have been named as one of the top ten 'irreplaceable' nature reserves on Earth

On the big screen: Russell and Carl drag the house behind them through 'Paradise Falls' which was inspired by the Tepuyes of Venezuela, in 2009 film Up

The team from the CEFE-CNRS institute in France assessed 21,500 endangered species living in 173,000 nature reserves and came up with the list of ‘irreplaceable’ areas.

The analysis compares the contribution each protected area makes to the long-term survival of species.

The isolated plateaus of the Tepuyes have seen unique species evolve, including the saffron-breasted redstart bird, the Sapito Rojo Del Yapacana frog and Fernandez's sword-nosed bat which is on the brink of extinction.

This landed the area among the top ten most vulnerable nature reserves in the study by the French scientists

Like no other: Areas like Gran Sabana, 'Great Savanna' located on top of one of the Tepuys in Venezuela are home to species which cannot be found anywhere else on the planet

Animal kingdom: The isolated Tepuys plateaus' fauna include the saffron-breasted redstart bird and the near-extinct Fernandez's sword-nosed bat

Needing protection: The Canaima waterfalls in the Venezuelan rainforests

The Tepuyes, a name which means 'house of the gods' in the native tongue of the local Pemon people, inspired Up director Pete Docter to create the film’s Paradise Falls.

The animation team even travelled out to the table-top mountains and spent three days and nights painting and sketching to perfect the place where the Academy Award winning film it set.

The Formaciones de Tepuyes is also thought to have inspired Arthur Conan Doyle’s classic novel The Lost World.

Also in the top ten are The Galapagos islands, the largest of all the 78 sites listed, and home to some of the world's most unusual animals such as the Galapagos giant tortoise and Darwin's finch.

Unique: Isla Bartholome, one of the Galapagos Islands, an area also named on the top ten 'irreplaceable' reserves due to it's wildlife

Needing protection: Darwin's Finch, also known as the Galapagos Finch or as Geospizinae, can be found exclusively in the Galapagos Islands

Like nowhere else: The Western Ghats world heritage site in India is home to several endangered species, including Asian elephants, lion-tailed macaques, but is threatened by construction and mining

Giants under threat: The rainforest on the Western Ghats hillsides is home to the endangered Asian elephant

Human evil: The influence of the modern world and society's hunger for natural resources threatens areas such as the Western Ghats

The Western Ghats hills in India is home to the rare Asian elephant and the lion-tailed macaque, species which struggle to survive as modern society demands to share their space.

Old plantations have already destroyed parts of the vulnerable rainforest, and mining and roadworks are further threatening the delicate hillssides.

'It is one of the world's biodiversity hotspots that also has the highest population density, ' Dr TR Shankar Raman, head of India's Nature Conservation Foundation, told The Guardian.

'India is in a  growth stage, there are many species that are really irreplaceable that will be lost.'

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