Ecuador’s Chocó forests are some of the world’s most biodiverse and endemic-rich ecosystems. But they are also some of the most threatened — Ecuador has one of the highest deforestation rates in South America. Rainforest Trust and local partner Fundación EcoMinga have been working to protect this region for years.
And once again, these efforts have paid off. Recently, the project around and in the Dracula Reserve acquired two more properties for a total of 153 acres. These properties expand the reserve and offer even more protection to this unique corner of the rainforest.
The Dracula Reserve derives its name from the “Dracula” orchids, or those in the genus Dracula. They’re named as such due to their doom-inspiring flowers, which often have long “fangs” and come in deep purples and oranges. The entire Chocó, stretching between both Ecuador and Colombia, is an orchid diversity hotspot — with new species discovered regularly. In fact, 30% percent of all known orchid species live in Ecuador and Colombia.
But the region has more than just flowers. Threatened birds such as the Endangered Chocó Vireo call the Dracula Reserve home, as does the Vulnerable Long-wattled Umbrellabird and Endangered Banded Ground-cuckoo. Researchers recently discovered a new frog species in the reserve and donated the naming rights to Rainforest Trust’s Species Legacy Auction last year.
“Further protecting this incredibly diverse forest is an amazing and much needed protection for species, both known and unknown,” said Angela Yang, Rainforest Trust’s Chief Conservation Officer. “It’s incredible that in this area alone, researchers keep discovering new orchid species ranging from the size of a pinhead to the size of a baseball.”
These new protected properties offer more hope to the incredible and imperiled wildlife of Ecuador’s Chocó. Rainforest Trust and Fundación EcoMinga look forward to continuing their work protecting this magnificent ecosystem. In time, Fundación EcoMinga plans to connect each protected corner of the forests to create a large, united reserve for these species.
Header photo by Luis Baquero and Gabriel Iturralde.
This project is made possible by gifts to the Rainforest Trust Conservation Action Fund and the SAVES Challenge. We would like to thank the Orchid Conservation Alliance, Maria Flowers, George and Cathy Ledec, Bihua Chen and Jackson Loomis and Bojan Ninic for their leadership support.