| Dracula Orchid © Andreas Kay
| Cachabi Frog in proposed reserve © Andreas Kay
| 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 www.rainforesttrust.org/projects/urgent-appeals/dracula-reserve/
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.