A group of conservationists has discovered a hidden population of spectacled bears thriving in an endangered area located in the highlands of Bolivia’s forest. The forest area is regarded as one of the last inter-Andean dry forests to survive. The conservationists are planning to launch actions that can help the hidden bears connect their small population with other bears.
Bolivia’s spectacled bears are the only bear specie in South America. Despite being the largest carnivore in the area, they consume only minimal amounts of meat, usually comprising only 5% of their regular food intakes. In fact, other native South American animals are heavier than the spectacled bears. Bolivia’s only bear species are known to be descendants of the giant Running Bear, the largest mammal known to have existed on Earth.
Conservationists to Find Out More about the Spectacled Bears of Bolivia
Conservation and research about the endangered spectacled bear or the Tremarctos ornatus is deemed as critical in Bolivia. Mainly because there is little, to no information about these bears since they account as one of the least studied terrestrial carnivores. As it is, there is considerable lack of information in relation to their participation in Andean culture and mythology, and about their role in the forest ecology.
The conservationists’ research was launched on the eastern side of the Apolobamba range located northeast of Lake Titicaca. The latter is a region well known for having the richest accumulation of terrestrial ecosystems in the world. That is presumably the reason why the hidden spectacled bears chose the area as their secret natural habitat,
What Caused the Endangerment of Bolivia’s Spectacled Bears?
Bolivia’s cloud forests have been deteriorating in the past years, due to poverty, ever since the rural folks allowed deforestation to take place in their forest areas.
When the bespectacled bears venture outside of their habitat, people in the rural areas kill the bears; or in some cases use the animals for livestock and in clearing out certain areas by allowing the bears to consume their crops.
Yet the foremost reason why Bolivia’s spectacled bears became endangered are the local traders who purchase the animals for local trading of different bear products; such as bear fat, bones, and bile as ingredients of local medicines. Bear bile is also highly traded internationally because they have been found to contain a rare chemical compound that sells for a price valued at multiple times more than that of heroin.