Three Spectacled Bear cubs were seen in reserves created by Rainforest Trust’s partner Fundación Jocotoco in Ecuador.
Spectacled Bear cubs—named for their distinctive spectacle– like facial markings— have been spotted at the Antisanilla and Tapichalaca Reserves in Ecuador. The only bear species found in South America, their populations are decreasing due to habitat destruction and fragmentation.
Rainforest Trust helped expand the Tapichalaca Reserve in southern Ecuador and supported partner Fundación Jocotoco’s conservation efforts to create the 6,100-acre Antisanilla Reserve in 2014. The Antisanilla Reserve encompasses a complex series of canyons and cliffs at the base of the 17,814-foot Volcan Antisana, and the high-altitude Protected Area is a haven for Andean Condors, Spectacled Bears and other threatened species. Just six months after its creation, the first Spectacled Bear was sighted in the Antisanilla Reserve. It was recently discovered that this individual is female, as she was seen feeding her cub. The Jocotoco team has been monitoring the mother bear for over two months, for two distinct reasons.
“First, we wanted to survey our bear population in the reserve. Through our camera traps we have identified at least three different adult bears. The mother bear is more than 10 years old, and identified by her nose color,” said Dr. Martin Schaefer, Fundación Jocotoco’s Executive Director.
“Second, we are monitoring the mother bear because there is still hunting going on adjacent to the reserve. Luckily, the mother bear has been very stationary, presumably because the cubs are too young to walk long distances.”
The images of the bear cubs show that the two reserves’ habitats are suitable for breeding, and provide hope for the continued population expansion of Spectacled Bears in the region. However, there is still work to be done to protect these bears from threats outside of the reserves, such as hunting. Fundación Jocotoco is currently working to include the Yanacocha Reserve into a contiguous Spectacled Bear corridor northwest of Ecuador’s capital, Quito. This expanded corridor will harbour an estimated bear population of 250 individuals, and will provide a haven where Spectacled Bear cubs can be raised undisturbed.
Header photo: A camera trap captures an image of a Spectacled Bear cub at the Tapichalaca Reserve. Photo courtesy of Fundación Jocotoco.