Semana de Dantas/ Tapir Week


Con el fin de dar a conocer las experiencias, aciertos, errores y problemáticas que implica la investigación y conservación del tapir de montaña, esperamos juntar a especialistas de varios proyectos para brindar un ciclo de conferencias y exposiciones iniciando el día 9 de mayo, fecha establecida como el día nacional del Tapir en el Ecuador, durante el Taller de validación para la estrategia nacional para la conservación del tapires en el Ecuador; adicionalmente se realizará la exhibición de fotografías, y videos en una jornada de difusión para las comunidades locales.-  Juan Pablo Reyes

[Editor’s note: This is Tapir Week and our reserve manager, Juan Pablo Reyes, who studies the Mountain Tapir (Tapirus pinchaque), and other specialists have organized the following activities to promote awareness and conservation of tapirs. All are invited. Talks will be in Spanish.  This week we also have an exciting announcement to make about the conservation of our local Banos-area Mountain Tapirs…stay tuned! – Lou Jost]


9 de mayo Instituto de Biodiversidad. Parque la Carolina Rumipamba y Shyris

14:30-15:00   Biólogo Luis Sandoval. Experiencias con el tapir del pantanal Brazil.

15:00-15:30.   Biólogo Armando Castellanos. Nueva información sobre el tapir de montaña

15:30-16:00. 11 años del Proyecto Conservación del Tapir de montaña PCTA. Juan Pablo Reyes

10 de mayo Universidad Estatal Amazónica

16:00   La Danta de montaña en el Corredor Ecológico Llanganates Sangay. Juan Pablo Reyes

16:30  Evaluación socio ambiental de la cuenca alta del río Pastaza y Subcuenca del río Anzu. Andrés Tapia o Ruth Arias.

17:00 presentación de videos y fotos del tapir andino

11 de mayo, Fundación Oscar Efrén Reyes 12 de noviembre y Luis A. MArtinez y Ciudad de Baños Tungurahua

10:00 Exposición de fotos, videos y experiencias investigando el tapir

Exposición Itinerante tráfico de vida silvestre Instituto Nacional de Biodiversidad




Big cats in the Dracula Reserve

SnapShot(4)Puma photographed by our camera trap!


Male puma scent-marking in our Dracula Reserve.  (Ignore the date stamp, it was not properly set.)

Last month, as part of our investigation of land we are trying to purchase for our Dracula Reserve (sponsored by the Orchid Conservation Alliance, Rainforest Trust, University of Basel Botanical Garden, and their individual donors), Javier Robayo, Juan Pablo Reyes, Jorge Brito, and Hector Yela set up camera traps to observe the hidden mammal fauna of the area under consideration. As we have seen in our earlier camera trap operations about 14 km to the south, these forests are full of life that is never seen by humans. In the above video, a healthy male puma (Felis concolor) visits our banana baits and  makes a scent mark right in front of the camera. This is the same male that we had filmed in our earlier operation, confirming that all these properties are ecologically inter-connected.  We need to maintain their connectivity by linking our existing blocks of properties, and this is one of our current priorities here.

Next, the banana baits were visited by a forest rodent called an agouti, who sniffs the puma urine. This is probably the stuff of nightmares for a defenseless agouti.

The next visitor was a well-fed female puma, clearly very interested in the scent of the male.

There were also several other visitors to the banana baits, as well as animals passing through accidentally. The most interesting were several unusually patterned squirrels; we are not completely certain of their identity:

There were also a few birds, like this group of Dark-backed Wood-Quail (Odontophorus melanotus), a Choco endemic species:

Another passer-by was a Rufous-breasted Ant-Thrush (Formicarius rufipectus) who was captured in reflected infrared in near-darkness:

This is what the ant thrush looks like:158271066.Q9wtg8ln.RufousbreastedAntthrush

Rufous-breasted Ant-Thrush. Photo: Roger Ahlman.

Quite a busy spot! Please help us protect it by donating to our sponsors:

Orchid Conservation Alliance

Rainforest Trust

University of Basel Botanical Garden,

Lou Jost, EcoMinga Foundation

The Ecuadorian people have spoken: Protect the environment and toss out the career politicians


Amazon rainforest canopy near Yasuni National Park, Ecuador. Photo: Lou Jost

Yesterday Ecuador held a binding constitutional referendum which asked voters seven questions, two of which were directly aimed at controversial environmental issues. The first environmental question was about mining, which the previous government had been pushing hard. The question asked whether Ecuador should prohibit metal mining in protected areas and urban areas. The second environmental question was about Yasuni National Park, which our former president, Raphael Correa, opened up to petroleum exploitation. Correa’s administration lied to the populace and manipulated it to provide political cover for the oil drilling inside this most important national park. The referendum question asked the Ecuadorian people whether the area open to petroleum exploitation should be reduced to 1/3 of its previous value, and whether the “untouchable zone” in the park (designed to protect indigenous people) should be expanded by 50000 hectares.

Yasuni 2

Huaorani clan leader in Yasuni National Park. Photo: Lou Jost.

Another question relevant to EcoMinga asked whether the current very high tax on land sale profits should be rescinded. Many landowners whom we deal with had been afraid to sell their land to us for fear the government would take away most of the money we would pay them.

There was one other question relevant to all Ecuadorians and especially environmentally-conscious citizens: Should politicians be limited to  two terms? Correa had changed the laws so that he could run indefinitely, and he is widely believed to be plotting his return for the next election. This would be a disaster for the environment and for democracy here.

I am proud to say that the Ecuadorian people are very environmentally conscious, on the average, and they voted resoundingly for the added environmental protections, and against the extreme land tax, and against multiple re-elections, all by a 2:1 margin!


Golden-mantled Tamarin (Saguinus tripartitus), Yasuni national Park. Photo: Lou Jost

Rare lizard found this week in the Viscaya unit of our Naturetrek Reserves


Riama meleagris in our Naturetrek/Viscaya Reserve. Note the iridescence on the scales. Click to enlarge. Photo: Juan Pablo Reyes/EcoMinga.

A few days ago our reserve manager, herpetologist Juan Pablo Reyes, was working with community members in our Naturetrek/Viscaya Reserve a few kilometers north of the town of Banos (Tungurahua province) when he accidentally encountered a lizard he had never seen before. It proved to be Riama meleagris, a species that has  previously been recorded from only two other sites, both in Tungurahua province. Both those other localities are now now highly disturbed, and the species is classified as Near Threatened by the IUCN. Our reserve is the only protected area where this species has been found; it is good to know that it will be protected from deforestation here at least.


Rialma meleagris in our reserve. Click to enlarge. Photo: Juan Pablo Reyes/EcoMinga.


The former landowner, Jorge Peña, and his family, who now help us care for the reserve. Click to enlarge. Photo: Juan Pablo Reyes/EcoMinga.

Lou Jost, Fundacion EcoMinga


Moustached Puffbird, never before seen in Ecuador, has just been found in our Dracula Reserve


First record of the Moustached Puffbird (Malacoptila mystacalis) for Ecuador. Click to enlarge. Photo: Alex Boas.

Ecuador is one of the world’s richest countries for birds, and it just got richer. Jose Maria Loaiza B. (a noted professional ornithologist who is EcoMinga’s community relations person in our Manduriacu Reserve), Juan Carlos Crespo (also an experienced ornithologist), and Alex Boas (ornithologist and photographer) visited Cerro Oscuro in our Dracula Reserve last week, partly because they suspected that the riparian habitat near the base of Cerro Oscuro might be appropriate for the elegant Moustached Puffbird (Malacoptila mystacalis), previously known only from Colombia and Venezuela. Puffbirds are tough to spot, since they spend most of their time perched quietly in the forest looking for large insects, but they have distinctive calls. Jose Maria heard a puffbird call near the edge of the stream that flows past Cerro Oscuro, and when they tracked it down, they were thrilled to find the first Moustached Puffbird ever seen in Ecuador! Continued searching turned up the mate of the first bird, and also a second pair of Moustached Puffbirds nearby.  Fortunately Alex was able to take some excellent photos and video to document the find. The team was not able to find any Moustached Puffbirds outside of the Dracula Reserve.  So for now, our Dracula Reserve is the only place in Ecuador where this bird can be seen.

Alex Boas’ video of the Ecuadorian sighting of the Moustached Puffbird.

Here are Jose Maria’s own words on the discovery:

“Novedades en la Reserva Cerro Oscuro

Por: José María Loaiza B.

Este pasado fin de semana realizamos una visita a la Reserva Cerro Oscuro en el noroccidente del Carchi y nos encontramos con una increíble sorpresa: la presencia de Mosutached Puffbird / Malacoptila mystacalis, especie que es registrada por primera vez en el Ecuador. Por el momento, la única localidad conocida es la parte baja de esta Reserva.

Este descubrimiento no fue del todo fortuito, ya desde hace tiempo sospechábamos que este esponjoso pájaro podía estar entre la vegetación ribereña. Dos parejas fueron encontradas: la primera justo a la orilla del río y la segunda más arriba de la casa-estación. Este hallazgo también contribuye con la extensión de su rango de distribución, y nuestra reserva asegura la supervivencia de lo que podría constituir una pequeña población en la frontera  noroccidental del Ecuador, posiblemente la única en todo el país.

El comportamiento característico de esta especie (y todos los Puffbirds), perchada sigilosa  en el sotobosque y relativamente quieta,   nos permitió detectarla por su canto y luego hacer excelentes fotografías y videos.   El equipo en campo estuvo conformado por la experticia de Juan Carlos Crespo, la experiencia fotográfica de Alex Boas y el  oído de José María Loaiza….”

They also made a second thrilling discovery in Cerro Oscuro. More on that in a future post. EcoMinga thanks Joe Maria, Juan Carlos, and Alex for their dedication and curiosity about the avifauna of our reserve.


Lou Jost, EcoMinga Foundation