May 30, 2009
Thanks to our donors we have just helped acquire and protect 3,215 acres of unique dry forest that represents the first protected area for many critically endangered plant and animal species, including the Niceforo’s Wren with only 50 surviving individuals.
WLT-US has supported our Colombian partner, Fundacion ProAves to take a significant step forward towards protecting the endangered flora and fauna restricted to the last remnants of dry forest in the Chicamocha Valley of the eastern Andes of Colombia.
The purchase of 3,215 acres of vital remaining dry forest habitat--some of the highest quality remaining forest of this type in the entire region--has resulted in the creation of a new reserve that constitutes the first ever protection for many endangered species, including the Critically Endangered Niceforo’s Wren along with many endemic flora and fauna species. This was possible thanks to the generous support of WLT-US donors, especially Luanne Lemmer and Eric Veach, and American Bird Conservancy.
This extraordinary ecosystem is completely unprotected, despite high levels of endemism in birds, reptiles, and flora in the Chicamocha valley. As a consequence of intense seasonal burning and grazing from goats and cattle, unfortunately very little vegetation remains in a natural state. For example, the endemic and attractive Chicamocha Cavanillesia tree (Cavanillesia chicamochae) is Critically Endangered and the new reserve is a stronghold for the Endangered Chestnut-bellied Hummingbird.
Intensive surveys and studies by Fundacion ProAves established that the wren is one of the most imperiled bird species in the world, with a global population of fewer than 25 pairs and a core population of 14 pairs. WLT-US and ProAves acted decisively to acquire the private properties containing the core population and remove over 500 goats and 50 cattle. The new reserve is called the "Cucarachero del Chicamocha Nature Reserve," named after the local name for Niceforo's Wren.
“To be able to give an entire ecosystem and its unique assemblege of flora and fauna on the verge of extinction another chance at survival is a thrilling opportunity,” said Dr. Paul Salaman, WLT-US’s Conservation Director. “We are tremendously indebted to our supporters who have made this opportunity a reality, and thank the dedication of our partner ProAves who ensure the success of this fabulous new protected area.”
“We are extremely grateful to the support of WLT-US to allow us to make a tangible difference to saving some of the most threatened flora and fauna in the Americas,” commented Sara Lara, Executive Director of Fundación ProAves, “For the first time we can say that tomorrow holds a brighter future for the Niceforo’s Wren and the many other threatened and endemic animals and plants that share its unique habitat.”
The new reserve, located near the town of Zapatoca, and just one hour from Bucaramanga International airport, is open to visitors to see and learn about this important and spectacular dry forest ecosystem.
For more information on the site and learn how you can support the purchase of additional critical dry forest habitat, go to the project page here.
Click here to see photos of Cucarachero del Chicamocha Nature Reserve.
Thank you again to all our donors who made this a great success.