Fundacion EcoMinga admitted to the International Union for the Conservation of Nature

IUCN-top2

Last week our foundation was accepted as a member of the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN), one of the world’s most prominent global conservation organizations. We are happy to join this network of several hundred government agencies and 1100 conservation NGOs. The most visible product of this network is the authoritative global Red List of threatened and endangered species:

http://www.iucnredlist.org/

This is a well-curated list of threat levels for species all over the world; many of our species are on the list, though many more are listed as “Data Deficient” because they have not been evaluated yet.

We are pleased to be a member of this network, and we thank the Rainforest Trust for inviting  us to join and for paying this year’s membership fee.

Lou Jost, Fundacion EcoMinga

 

 

An even closer encounter with a Mountain Tapir in our Rio Zunac Reserve!

 

A few days ago I posted Alyssa Kullberg’s video of a Spectacled Bear (Tremarctos ornatus) that came to dinner at our research station in the Rio Zunac Reserve. On the same trip, she and our staff ran into this fearless Mountain Tapir (Tapirus pinchaque). Our guard Santiago Recalde caught the encounter on video.  These are extraordinary sightings of rare animals that seem to have lost all fear of humans, after being protected by us for the last dozen years.

Spectacled Bear close encounter in our Rio Zunac Reserve

Dinner guest in the Rio Zunac Reserve. Video by Alyssa Kullberg.

Two weeks ago we posted our reserve guard Santiago Recalde’s video of a close encounter with a fearless Mountain Tapir (Tapirus pinchaque) in our Rio Zunac Reserve. Last week Santiago returned to the same reserve with Alyssa Kullberg, a Fulbright Scholar who has just arrived here to spend the next nine months studying our new Magnolia species. They have just come back from the reserve this evening with news of their an astounding encounter with another of our large mammals, a Spectacled Bear (Tremarctos ornatus).

Alyssa told me that during the whole 4 hour hike from the roadhead to our very remote research station, they were seeing fresh Mountain Tapir, Spectacled Bear, and Puma tracks on the trail. They stayed a week in the reserve, and one day, while they were in the forest, a Spectacled Bear entered the station and stole some food. Later, while Alyssa and Santiago were eating dinner, the bear came back for more food, and approached the station quite closely (even though Alyssa and Santiago were loudly conversing) until it caught their scent. Even after catching their scent, the bear did not seem very frightened, as it paused to think about eating a young palm tree next to the trail.

20180920_170027small

Spectacled Bear coming to share dinner with Alyssa and Santiago. Note the Magnolia buds on the table in the foreground; most neotropical Magnolia species open only at night, so we have to collect the buds and care for them until nightfall. Photo: Alyssa Kullberg.

While we have seen tracks around the cabin before, and have had some minor bear damage in the past, this is the first time a bear has been this bold. We may be the victims of our own success in protecting this reserve– the animals are losing their fear of humans, so we may be heading for the kinds of bear problems that are common in North American national parks. We will try to be extra careful to protect our food, though this will not be easy. In any case, I’d rather have this problem than the problem of not having bears!

Lou Jost, EcoMinga Foundation

 

 

 

Mountain Tapir close encounter

 

Our pair of Black-and-chestnut Eagles (Spizaetus isidori) has been nesting again in our Rio Zunac Reserve. The Peregrine Fund has hired two of our guards’ family members, Abel Recalde and Andi Salazar, to monitor this nest and record details of prey items, etc. We’ll report on that data after the Peregrine Fund finishes analyzing it.

A few days ago, as Abel climbed the trail to the nest, he encountered a completely tame Mountain Tapir (Tapirus pinchaque). This endangered mammal is a special treat to see. He excitedly pulled out his cell phone and made the video posted above at close range. It is strong evidence that our wardens are doing a good job; our animals are loosing their fear of humans, because no one hurts them anymore.

By the way, the eagles successfully fledged a baby this year!

Screenshot_20180719-085231

Black-and-chestnut Eagle (Spizaetus isidori) baby, Generation 2018. Photo: Abel Recalde and Andi Salazar,  Peregrine Fund

Lou Jost. EcoMinga Foundation

New orchid species discovered in our Dracula Reserve: Pleurothallis chicalensis

P1510856

Pleurothallis chicalensis. Photo: Andreas Kay

Our Dracula Reserve in northwest Ecuador has been the source of many orchid discoveries lately, so many in fact that I am rather far behind in reporting them here.  This is the newest discovery, just published yesterday by M. Jimenez, L. Baquero, M. Wilson, and G. Iturralde in the journal Lankesteriana. It is a bright yellow Pleurothallis which was first found by Javier Robayo (EcoMinga’s executive director), Hector Yela (our reserve guard) and Andreas Kay (photographer and author of the web page Ecuador Megadiverso) in 2013 in what is now the Cerro Oscuro unit of our Dracula Reserve. The first scientific collection was made in 2016 by Luis Baquero, one of the architects of our reserve design. He found it near what is now the Cerro Colorado unit of the Dracula Reserve, and again on Cerro Oscuro. It was also recognized in a photograph taken near the La Planada reserve in nearby Colombia. The authors named it after the small town of Chical, the nearest community, so that community members might feel some pride in the biodiversity of the magnificent forests which still survive there.

P1510852

Pleurothallis chicalensis plant. Note flower at far right. Photo: Andreas Kay.