*A group of botany students and professors undertaking fieldwork at RÃo ZuÃ±ac Reserve were thrilled to witness a Spectacled Bear at close range. *
The footage, captured by Keeper of the Wild Santiago Recalde, was a welcome surprise for the group who were visiting the reserve to study trees in the Araliaceae family, which includes the popular houseplant Schefflera. FundaciÃ³n Ecominga”s Keepers of the Wild, funded by WLT supporters, accompanied the group as field assistants and tree climbers.
Sightings of Spectacled Bear have increased in the cloud forest of Ecuador since WLT”s Forests in the Sky campaign, which created the Rio Machay Reserve and secured protection of a wildlife corridor between the Llanganates and Sangay national parks. These bears require vast areas of forest to roam, so Ecominga”s conservation work has protected the species, classified as Vulnerable on the IUCN Red List, from the threat of deforestation and habitat fragmentation. The KOTW have also worked to eliminate hunting in the area and have spent much time educating the members of their communities , to encourage co-existence with the bears.
Rio ZuÃ±ac Reserve lies in the foothills of the eastern Andes, along the western edge of the Amazon Basin in Ecuador. This area is home to a rich biodiversity of rare and endangered plants, including many species endemic to the reserves, which makes it an important site for scientific research. The group was well cared for by the Keepers of the Wild; even when the scientists were at work deep in the forests, the rangers hiked to the workstation with freshly-cooked hot meals.
It was a successful visit for the researchers, who discovered an unexpected five new species from the Araliaceae tree family. One of the trees will be named in honour of the reserve”s Keepers of the Wild, while another will be named after long-time WLT corporate supporter Puro Coffee, who have supported conservation in 9 countries since their WLT support began, including in Ecuador. This will be the third new species in Ecuador named after the coffee brand, joining the Puro Frog, discovered by ranger Juan Pablo Reyes and the Puro Orchid, discovered by Fundacion Ecominga”s Founder and Executive Director, Lou Jost.
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