Four Ways to Celebrate Halloween

Halloween Dracula Orchid © Creative Commons
Rainforest Explorer Costume Idea © Real Simple
© Andreas Kay / flickr modifiedArt Contest © Andreas Kay / flickr modified

With Halloween less than a week away, now is the time to get prepared. Here are four creative suggestions from the Rainforest Trust Team to put the “howl” into Halloween this year.

1. Save Dracula

That’s right – the rare Dracula Orchid is going extinct and needs your help. Named for its frightening resemblance to the world’s most famous vampire, the Dracula orchid is severely threatened by deforestation. Help us create a new reserve to ensure its survival in Ecuador’s imperiled Chocó rainforest.

2. Join Our Costume Contest

Post a photo of your best rainforest-inspired costume on Rainforest Trust’s Facebook page for your chance to win a $25 REI gift certificate. Need inspiration? Check out our Halloween Pinterest board for ideasAll ages welcome.

3. Throw a Rainforest-themed Party

Visit our Pinterest project board for ideas about how to create jungle-themed party favors, decorations and other crafts to infuse your Halloween with a little rainforest flavor.

4. Draw Dracula (Orchid) Contest for Kids

Kids are encouraged to imagine what the ghoulish face of the Dracula Orchid might look like and then grab crayons, paint, or pencils to put their ideas on the medium of their choice. This could be paper, pumpkins or even faces – the sky’s the limit. Young artists will be entered in a drawing to win a $10 Baskin-Robbins gift certificate. Please send all entries to Jesse Lewis, Rainforest Trust’s Education Coordinator, at



News Release: Rainforest Trust Announces Halloween Drive to Create Dracula Reserve in Ecuador

for web Dracula Orchid © Andreas Kay
for web3 Cachabi Frog in proposed reserve © Andreas Kay
for web2 Chocó Rainforest © Andreas Kay

Warrenton, VA – October 22, 2014 – Rainforest Trust, a nonprofit conservation organization focused on protecting threatened tropical lands and saving endangered species, has announced a Halloween fundraising drive to raise $28,000 to protect the Dracula orchid and other threatened species in Ecuador.

Rainforest Trust, local conservation partner Fundación EcoMinga and the Botanical Garden of the University of Basel are collaborating to purchase 309 acres, which will be added to an earlier acquisition, to establish a new 652-acre protected area in Ecuador’s threatened Chocó rainforest. The reserve will protect two species of the rare Dracula orchid.

Dracula orchids, named for the blood red color of their sepals, are highly endemic, with 90 percent of all species found at three or fewer localities. Because these orchids are so restricted in their habitat requirements, they are inherently susceptible to extinction by forest loss. It is estimated that 14 Dracula species have already gone extinct due to deforestation events.

Ecuador has one of the highest rates of deforestation in South America. Despite being one of the most biodiverse areas in the world, Ecuador’s Chocó region is also one of the most threatened, with less than 10 percent of the original forest still intact. Threats to this region include logging and agricultural expansion.

“The real fear for me this Halloween is the possibility of losing the last remnants of the Chocó rainforest and the rare and endemic species it supports,” said Dr. Paul Salaman, CEO of Rainforest Trust. “The Dracula Reserve will be an incredible repository of this rainforest’s rich biodiversity and provide habitat for scores of endemic plants, frogs, birds and mammals, including the Spectacled Bear.”

Twenty-five percent of all known orchid species are found in Colombia and Ecuador. In total, these countries contain more than 7,000 orchid species. Due to rapid rates of deforestation in Andean forests, however, nearly a third of these species are threatened with extinction.

This Halloween drive will help Rainforest Trust reach its total fundraising goal of $59,000 to create this reserve. To donate or learn more about the project, visit

Rainforest Trust is a nonprofit conservation organization focused on saving rainforest and endangered species in partnership with local conservation leaders and indigenous communities. Since its founding in 1988, Rainforest Trust has saved nearly 8 million acres of rainforest and other tropical habitats and has 85 projects across 22 countries.

Spectacled Bears Take Refuge in Antisanilla Reserve

Ichishima - Copy (2) Spectacled Bear © Ichishima
Foto Oso 3 Recent sighting © Jocotoco
antisana3 Volcan Antisana © Jocotoco

October 7, 2014

Ecuador’s Antisanilla Reserve is the confirmed refuge of South America’s only bear species, the Spectacled Bear.

Manual Cuichan, a park guard employed by Rainforest Trust’s Ecuadorian conservation partner Jocotoco, spotted a Spectacled Bear in the new Antisanilla reserve two weeks ago.

“This marks the second time Spectacled Bears have been spotted in the reserve this year. And it’s wonderful news since it’s clear that the bears are now using the reserve as a real refuge,” said Francisco Sornoza, Conservation Director for Jocotoco.

The total population of the Spectacled Bear, a threatened species, is expected to decline by more than 30% in the next thirty years. These small- to mid-sized mammals  are the only surviving relative of the Giant Short-faced Bear, a species that went extinct in the Late Pleistocene.

Although typically found in Andean cloud forests, the Spectacled Bear is an extremely versatile species that can also survive in alpine areas, known as páramo, and deserts.

Primary threats to Spectacled Bears stem from poaching and habitat loss. Each year the species’ habitat shrinks by an estimated 2-4% due to agricultural expansion, road construction, and other development projects.

The 6,100-acre Antisanilla Reserve was created earlier this year with support from Rainforest Trust, the Amphibian Survival Alliance, the Andrew Sabin Foundation and other conservation organizations working in collaboration with Ecuadorian partner Fundación Jocotoco.

“One of the iconic mammals of the Andes, the endangered Spectacled Bear has always been relatively rare, and now it is much persecuted almost throughout its range for alleged cattle depredations,” said Dr. Robert S. Ridgely, President of Rainforest Trust.

“I knew that Spectacled Bears used to occur at Antisanilla and I hoped maybe one might wander in,” Ridgely added. “But never did I think that, hardly six months after Antisanilla’s purchase, two bears would have already been sighted on the páramo!”

The Antisanilla Reserve was established primarily to protect Andean Condors, which breed and nest in its rocky canyons. Only 50 Condors are believed to remain in Ecuador and the majority live in the reserve.

Earlier this year a four-day amphibian survey in Ecuador’s new Antisanilla Reserve resulted in a new register of the San Lucas Marsupial Frog (Gastrotheca pseustes). The 270,000-acre Antisana Reserve, which is contiguous to the Antisanilla Reserve, is recognized as an Alliance for Zero Extinction (AZE) site based on the occurrence of extremely endangered amphibians.

Strategic Expansion Helps Form Colombian Wildlife Corridor

Black-and-gold Tanager - Copy Black and Gold Tanager © ProAves
4554884546_f3bf2b352a_o  Park guard in the Las Tangaras Reserve © ProAves
 rana de cristal- centrolene macho. rna las tangaras  (4) - CopyCrystal frog © ProAves

October 2, 2014

Rainforest Trust’s local partner ProAves purchased a key property located in the municipality of Carmen de Atrato in the lowlands of Colombia’s Chocó department. Playa Larga is comprised of 1,772 acres of tropical rainforest and neighbors the Las Tangaras Nature Reserve, that protects almost 8,000 acres of Chocó cloud forests located on the western flank of Colombia’s Western Cordillera.

Playa Larga helps form the core of a large conservation corridor comprised of a mosaic of protected areas, including three ProAves reserves, two Emberá indigenous reserves, and a proposed regional park that would, in total, conserve approximately 346,000 acres of forests.

ProAves is establishing this conservation corridor as means to protect habitat and ensure the survival of over 230 species of birds, including the Endangered Gold-ringed Tanager, the Rose-faced Parrot, and 13 endemic species which are found nowhere else in the world.

Other imperiled species found in Playa Larga include the endangered Baird’s Tapir and the critically endangered Red-banded Poison Frog.

The lowland Chocó rainforest faces many threats, including mining and logging. The acquisition of this property, however, will help ensure its protection not only for many wildlife species, but also for the indigenous Emberá communities that inhabit the reservations in the area.

The presence of Emberá reservations gives ProAves the opportunity to create alliances with these communities and to develop sustainable initiatives to promote conservation in the Chocó.

“Rainforest Trust was delighted to support this strategic property purchase which is pivotal for assisting ProAves to realizing their goal of creating a larger conservation corridor critical for the survival of bird, mammal, and amphibian species alike,” said Christine Hodgdon, International Conservation Manager for Rainforest Trust.

Rainforest Trust helped establish the Las Tangaras Reserve in 2012.

The purchase was completed in cooperation with World Land Trust. A special thanks is also due to Luanne Lemmer and Eric Veach as well as Robert and Ana Giles for their invaluable support.