ANDEAN SPECKLED BEAR
The spectacled bear (Tremarctos ornatus), also known as the Andean bear, is the last remaining short-faced bear . The spectacled bear is a relatively small species of bear native to South America, where it is second only to the three tapir species as the largest extant land mammal. It has black fur with a distinctive beige-coloured marking across its face and upper chest, though not all Andean bears have "spectacle" markings. They are found in several areas of northern and western South America, including eastern Panama,western Venezuela, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, western Bolivia, and northwestern Argentina. Spectacled bears are the only surviving species of bear native to South America, and the only surviving member of the subfamily Tremarctinae. Their survival has depended mostly on their ability to climb even the tallest trees of the Andes.
Although the bears tend to isolate themselves from one another to avoid competition, they are non-territorial. When encountered by humans or other spectacled bears, they will react in a docile but cautious manner, unless the intruder is seen as a threat or a mother's cubs are endangered. Like other bears, mothers are protective of their young and have attacked poachers. However, no deaths have been recorded by South American state governments. They usually attempt to retreat from humans, often by climbing trees.
Spectacled bears are more herbivorous than most other bears; normally about 5 to 7% of their diet is meat. The most common foods for these bears include cactus, palm nuts, orchid bulbs, fallen fruit on the forest floor and unopened palm leaves. Much of this vegetation is very tough to open or digest for most animals and the bear is one of the few to exploit these food sources. These bears also eat sugarcane, honey and corn and have been known to travel above the tree line for berries and bromeliads. Animal prey is usually quite small but these bears can predate adult deer, llama and domestic cattle and horses. Animal prey has included rabbits, mice, other rodents, birds at the nest (especially larger, ground-nesting birds). They are occasionally accused of killing livestock, especially cattle, and raiding corn fields. Allegedly, some bears become habituated to eating cattle but the bears are actually more likely to eat cattle as carrion and some farmers may accidentally assume the spectacled bear killed them. Due to fear of loss of stock, bears may be killed on sight.
The spectacled bear population is under threat for a number of reasons, including the above mentioned. The gall bladders of spectacled bears are also valued in traditional Chinese medicine and can fetch a high price on the international market. Extensive logging and farming have led to a loss of habitat for the bears. (Info. taken from wikipedia.com)
Our plan is to work with the Ecuadorian environmental police (UPMA) and existing bear rescue centers to take on bears who require reahbilitation & care. Once rehabilitated, return them back to their research center for release back into the wild.
The Andean bear rehabilitation process takes anywhere from 6 to 18 months, depending on the age and size of the rescued cub. Bears must be large enough to not be attacked by pumas or other predators before they can be released. The bears are offered the foods that they would find in the wild, firstly chopped up and ready to eat so that they get used to the taste and smell. Later they learn how to split open the bamboo, rip the middle out of palms and dig for worms and other insects.
Also, our efforts will focus on education and awareness for the community of farmers and children. The community awareness and education is important, as humans are the main threat to their survival. We will teach workshops on how farmers can coexist with bears and the importance of conservation. We will work with local schools and schools in and around the cloud forests where bear populations can be found.