• Murray Cooper

    Peru: Rewilding of Spectacled Bear habitat

  • Tim Hopwood

    Peru: Rewilding of Spectacled Bear habitat

  • Ruthmery Pillco Huarcaya

    Peru: Rewilding of Spectacled Bear habitat

  • Ruthmery Pillco Huarcaya

    Peru: Rewilding of Spectacled Bear habitat

In Brief

Conservation Value:

The vast scale of Manú National Park—spanning Andean highlands, cloud forest and lowland Amazonian fortest—makes it a stronghold for apex predators and species with large home ranges or that are rare and widely distributed. The elevational range of Manú, from 300 feet to11,000 feet above sea level, enhances its importance for the ability of species to adapt to climate change. The spectacled bear (‘Ukuku’ in Quechua) is a cultural icon for the Quechua indigenous people because its movements replicate the seasonal migrations of the ancestral Quechua and traditional groups like the Keros Quechua, who migrate with the seasons to move crops and livestock into different life zones. These highly arboreal bears are one of the few large mammal species to move freely from cloud forest to upper elevation grasslands and thus may play an important role in seed dispersal. The species is designated as Vulnerable and its population is decreasing.

Threats:

The main threats to the highest cloud forest in the Amazon basin are overgrazing and burning from above and an upward shift in plant community assemblages from below.

Actions & Results:

The project combines engagement with local communities—to restore and rewild degraded areas in the upper limits of Amazonian cloud forests—with a study to understand the movements and diet of bears and their role in plant dispersal. Work underway since February 2021 entails:

  • Deployment of 120 camera traps at varying elevations. From this data, 20 individual spectacled bears have been identified and 40 medium to large mammal species, of which 11 have been found to have an increased elevational range in Peru. Sixteen species of plants important in the bear's diet have been identified from 19 fecal samples collected .
  • Tree nurseries were established in two Andean communities (Juan Velasco Alvarado and Jajahuana) and at the Wayqecha Biological Station. These have produced over 78,500 trees of 12 different species that bears consume, including 2 threatened species.
  • 78 hectares of land degraded by fire were restored and rewilded in the communities of Jajahuana and Juan Velasco Alvarado. Trees were planted along high Andean lagoons and headwaters of rivers to protect water sources for wildlife, human consumption, and agriculture.
  • An Andean bear interpretation center in being built near Wayqecha Biological Station, to open in May 2022.
  • In December 2021, ACCA hosted an Andean Bear festival (the 'Ukuku Raymi' in Quechua) in Challabamba, attended by 400.

Location:

Challabamba & Kosñipata district, Paucartambo province, Cusco Department, Peru

Goal:

To restore and rewild the upper limits of Amazonian cloud forests and learn more about spectacled bears there.

Project Field Partner:

Conservación Amazónica (ACCA)

Cost:

2021 budget (ICFC portion): US$7,868.

Size of Area Involved:

9,119 ha

Gallery

Click to enlarge an image

D. andean bear expedition - june 2021 (credit ruthmery pillco huarcaya)
E. andean bear expedition - june 2021 (credit ruthmery pillco huarcaya)
F. andean bear expedition - june 2021 (credit ruthmery pillco huarcaya)
H. andean bear expedition - june 2021 (credit ruthmery pillco huarcaya)

In More Depth...

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