[crb_slide image=”https://www.rainforesttrust.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/06/Chris-Barella.jpg” credits=”Photo by Chris Barella” title=”” text=””]
Since creation of the Dracula Reserve in 2014, park guards, visitors and camera traps in the Ecuadorian reserve have recorded an impressive array of flora and fauna: from namesake Dracula orchids to the critically endangered Brown-headed Spider Monkey.
Located in the Chocó rainforest of northern Ecuador, the 652-acre reserve offers permanent protection for endangered species in a landscape that is perilously threatened by forest destruction.
Although the reserve was established principally to protect rare, endemic Dracula Orchids, its presence is already proving of benefit to a variety of other species.
A male Spectacled Bear was recently caught on camera-trap scent-marking trees. Doing so allows Spectacled Bears to warn other bears of their presence and thereby establish their territory. They are threatened as a result of habitat loss throughout their range, which spans across the northern and central Andes. Their presence indicates that the reserve can help support even the largest mammals found in the Chocó rainforest.
Also caught on camera-trap was an Ocelot. These small, elusive cats are rarely spotted, and typically inhabit the densest forest areas. Although once hunted extensively for their fur, their population numbers have been improving thanks to successful conservation efforts.
|The Dracula Orchid
© Andreas Kay/CC
© Chris Barella/CC
Another important sighting took place when a visiting wildlife filmmaker acquired footage of the critically endangered Brown-headed Spider Monkey leaping through the canopy. These primates, a very rare, endemic subspecies of Black-headed spider monkeys, are found only in the northwest region of Ecuador. As a result of hunting and human encroachment, they have suffered dramatic population declines. The Dracula Reserve is providing these primates with critically-needed protection to help prevent extinction.
“We are thrilled by these recent findings,” said Christine Hodgdon, International Conservation Manager for Rainforest Trust. “From the beginning, it was clear that the reserve held incredible conservation potential for Ecuador but already – within a year – it is starting to exceed our expectations.”
Working with local partner Fundación EcoMinga, Rainforest Trust supported the creation of the Dracula Reserve in December of 2014.
The Chocó rainforest, which lies along the Pacific coast of Ecuador and Colombia, holds the world’s highest amount of orchid diversity, especially of the genus Dracula. Together, Colombia and Ecuador contain about 25 percent of the world’s orchid species.
Nearly a third of orchid species found in Ecuador and Colombia are threatened with extinction due to deforestation. It is believed that 14 Dracula species have already gone extinct for this reason. Orchid species also face threats from commercial collectors that supply Ecuadorian and international markets.
Rainforest Trust is currently working with Fundación EcoMinga to provide increased protection for Chocó orchids and wildlife by expanding the Dracula Reserve.