Andean bears in Ecuador
Andean, or ‘spectacled’ bears, made famous by Paddington, are the only bears that live in South America. Found in the Tropical Andes, a narrow strip of land running from Venezuela to Bolivia, these animals are under severe threat from habitat loss, habitat fragmentation and illegal killing. With your help, we’ve been supporting The Rainforest Concern to extend a protected reserve.
The diversity of the mountains
With PTES funding, The Rainforest Concern has extended the mountainous forested Neblina Reserve in Ecuador to over 1,670 hectares. Our money has helped identify which areas of land are being used by the vulnerable spectacled bear, and other native mammals, and are therefore critical for the animals’ future.
A team of rangers has been busy setting up camera traps in the northern part of the reserve. They have captured evidence of 13 mammal species using the forest including puma, two species of coati, tayra – a type of mustelid – and little red brocket deer. They also got photos of the striped hog-nosed skunk and oncilla, a little spotted wild cat. It’s fascinating to get an insight into the diversity of the region.
Shaping the landscape
Andean bears are not just important in their own right but help to shape the evergreen, montane forests that they live in. These bears feed on over 300 plant species, which rely on the bears to disperse the seeds widely across the mountains as they roam vast distances. Without the bears, the entire landscape would look very different. So it’s critical, for all the other animals that live in the ecosystem, that the Andean bears are protected.
During the second phase of the project, the team will move the cameras to the southern forests and gather evidence on the species living there. They will also start their community involvement work now that they’ve had a year to collate the information they need.
The team has extensively updated and enlarged the Forest Guards’ Handbook. It contains a mammal recognition guide so the guards can more easily identify footprints and photos of the animals themselves. And it details how to set camera traps and monitor which animals are where throughout the reserve. We look forward to reporting on what they find later next year.
See the array of wildlife in the region from their impressive camera trap images:
Images above from left to right: Andean fox (Lycalopex culpaeus), Dwarf red brocket (Mazama rufina), Cougar (Puma concolor), Andean white eared opossom (Didelphis pernigra). All images credit Rainforest Concern.
Thank you for helping us fund this vital work to save Andean bears in Ecuador
This project is now half way through. If you’d like to support it, please donate or set up a direct debit here today: