Conservamos La Vida: A Partnership for the Conservation of the Andean Bear

Timeframe: 2019 - 2021
Country/Region: Colombia
Partner: Wildlife Conservation Society

The Andean bear is the only bear species present in South America and the only extant species from the short-faced bear group. In Colombia, they are found in elevations of up to 4’267m in the Andes region that includes several ecosystems, such as páramos which is an ecoregion, montane Andean forests, moist forests, and humid forests of the piedmont. Its distribution also overlaps the tropical Andes, an area with some of the highest diversity and number of endemic species in the world.

This rare, charismatic bear is highly endangered, primarily due to habitat fragmentation that has caused bears to lose access to critical feeding areas. In addition, human-bear conflicts have increased resulting in more retaliatory killing and illegal hunting. Consequently, local communities are intolerant of the Andean bear, given their fear of real incidents of crop raiding and livestock killing by Andean bears. Lack of knowledge about these bears significantly compromises the conservation management for the species.

Research on bear distribution and populations is needed to design effective conservation strategies for these threatened species. Fondation Segré is supporting this project implemented by Wildlife Conservation Society that aims to study the population dynamics of bears and the drivers of human-bear conflict occurring in the Andean forests.

Specific measures are defined in four areas of work:

  • evaluation of the species’ population and threats, including the effect of habitat loss and human-bear conflict.
  • agreements with relevant stakeholders regarding the required management actions to reduce threats
  • implementation of management actions in prioritized areas; and
  • monitoring bear populations, threats, and conservation actions to inform future decisions.