Location: Andes of Ecuador
Research: The Don Oso Project: Andean Bear Research, Awareness, and Protection
Species/Topic: Andean Bear (Tremarctos ornatus)
Abstract: The Andean bear (Tremarctos ornatus) is threatened throughout its entire range, where the intrusion of agriculture, ranching, mining, and road-building activities has severely fragmented the original cover of montane forests. In Ecuador, over 30% of the native montane vegetation has been lost or severely fragmented, leading to perilous declines and isolation of remaining bear populations. This project aims to study and protect a large and potentially isolated population of Andean bears near the southern boundary of Sangay National Park. Activities include a study of indirect bear signs to estimate population densities, habitat suitability and use, and genetic diversity; as well as human-bear conflicts. Results will be used to a) assess the status of Andean bears in two watersheds, b) provide information for a regional bear conservation plan, and c) educate landowners about the need for bear protection. Results will be published in scientific journals and shared with local residents and authorities managing Ecuador's protected areas.