A recently established core protected area in Ecuador’s northwestern region of Tesoro Escondido safeguards one of the largest remaining populations of the Critically Endangered Brown-headed Spider Monkey and provides a haven for Great Green Macaws, Jaguars and other threatened species.
The Tesoro Escondido Reserve in Ecuador was recently expanded by 1,516 acres, thanks to the efforts of Rainforest Trust and local partner Cambugán Foundation. The reserve’s combined 2,965 acres are now protected from threats such as deforestation and encroachment of oil palm plantations, through direct land purchases that include vital habitat for the Brown-headed Spider Monkey.
The Critically Endangered Brown-headed Spider Monkey has been identified as one of the 25 most endangered primates in the world and is found only in Ecuador’s Chocóan rainforests, which are in part protected by the new Tesoro Escondido Reserve. An estimated population of 150 individuals exist in the region of Tesoro Escondido, leading this site to be regarded as a global priority for the species. These spider monkeys play a critical role in maintaining forest diversity as they disperse the seeds of numerous tree species, and until the creation of the new reserve they had been drastically impacted by loss of their forest habitat, hunting and expanding oil palm pressures that threatened their survival. This summer, infant Brown-headed Spider Monkeys were seen in the reserve, which is a positive sign of the species’ ability to rebound and thrive in the protected area.
In addition to being a stronghold for the Brown-headed Spider Monkey, Tesoro Escondido is home to one of the last populations of western Ecuadorian Jaguars and 44 percent of mammal species recorded in Ecuador. Several globally threatened birds have been observed in this area, including the Endangered Great Green Macaw and the Baudo Guan, as well as multiple Endangered amphibians (such as Cochranella mache, Pristimantis colomai and Hyloxalus toachi).
Rainforest Trust thanks all of its supporters that helped with the expansion of the Tesoro Escondido Reserve, including an anonymous donor, the Scott Rasmussen Family Trust and the University of Sussex.