In the framework of the Call4Projects Program promoted by nrg4SD, the prefectures of Azuay and Morona Santiago signed the agreement for the project “Comprehensive conservation of the spectacled bear (Tremarctos ornatus) and the mountain tapir (Tapirus pinchaque) as protected species in the Collay Protected Forest”. The aim of the project is to contribute with concrete actions to the conservation of biodiversity within the context of Azuay’s Strategy of Mitigation, Adaptation and Reversal of Climate Change (MAR Strategy) and, at the same time, promote the participation of Azuay’s and Morona Santiago’s inhabitants in the decision making and promotion of public policies on environmental issues. 

The spectacled bear and the mountain tapir are special creatures that have coexisted with the Andean and rain forests of Latin America from Venezuela to Peru, forming part of their lives and cosmovision. They travel great distances between forests and rain forests, playing their role in these ecosystems and ensuring the conservation of its biodiversity. They fulfil important roles such as pollinators and plant regenerators and guaranteeing the continuation of environmental services such as availability of water. 

The spectacled bear is an endangered species. It is a solitary animal, terrestrial and partially arboreal. It is mainly a herbivore although it can occasionally feed on animals or carrion. To find its food, it moves through habitats between different altitudes (1,000 to 4,300 meters above sea level). Endemic to the Andes, it is hunted for its meat, skin and fat and for destroying crops or for the death of cattle. Loss of habitat is a constant pressure and major threat to this species.

The mountain tapir is the biggest mammal from the ecosystem which it inhabits. Its diet is based only on plants and its distribution goes from the Andes of Colombia to northern Peru, moving around an altitude from 1500 to 4000 meters above sea level. Its state of conservation in Ecuador has been classified as critically endangered.

Both mammals are key for the protection and conservation of the rainforests, as they help to pollinate by spreading the seeds from its diet while it travels from different habitats. The spectacled bear knocks down bushes and branches looking for food, giving way to light to enter the forest and help with plant photosynthesis. On the other hand, the tapir stools help germinate more than 50 species of plants.

The project of monitoring and conservation of both species is being carried out in the Protected Forest of Collay. The forest has an extension of 29, 076 hectares, with 97% of its surface located in Azuay and 3% in Morona Santiago. The researches involved in the project use “trap cameras” that activate when they sense movement from the animals and takes pictures and videos that help study these species and better manage their conservation.

An Action Plan for the Conservation of the spectacled bear is currently under development with the help of the information taken from the trap cameras. Check out the video below detailing the work of Azuay and Morona Santiago Provinces and how they monitor and help protect these important species.