Endangered Mountain Tapir Spotted in Chicuate-Chinguelas Private Conservation Area
This summer, aspiring conservationist Juan Pusma Coello led a group of young rangers into Chicuate-Chinguelas, a private conservation area established with your support in 2016. The group planned to record flora and fauna within the area’s biodiverse montane forests and paramo grasslands.
After 13 hours of exploration, the rangers encountered a rare and special species – an endangered mountain tapir! Juan managed to capture a few photos before the creature disappeared into the forest.
Mountain tapirs play a particularly important role in shaping and maintaining healthy ecosystems. Known as “Gardeners of the Forest,” they consume a variety of plants and fruits, and disperse the seeds through their scat. This helps maintain the genetic diversity of plants in the forest. It also spreads the seeds of slow-growing trees with dense wood – the very trees most important for storing carbon.
The species is classified as endangered primarily due to habitat destruction and hunting. Some experts estimate that there might be no more than 3,000 individuals left in the wild.
Chicuate-Chinguelas is just one area established with your support that helps protect their habitat! Created in 2016 in collaboration with local communities and World Land Trust, Chicuate-Chinguelas spans 66,954 acres. It is the largest conservation area in the Piura region of northern Peru.
The forests and paramo ecosystems of Chicuate-Chinguelas are part of the Tropical Andes Corridor and lie between Tabaconas Namballe National Sanctuary in Peru and Yacuri National Park in Ecuador. The creation of conservation areas protect the corridor and its remarkable wildlife from threats such as logging and illegal mining.
Chicuate-Chinguelas is protected and managed by the local community of Segunda y Cajas with support from Nature and Culture. As part of management efforts, Nature and Culture created “Rangers of the Future,” a program to train emerging conservation leaders like Juan to ensure the area remains protected and sustainably managed. The young rangers participate in wildlife excursions and discussions about the area’s biodiversity, and help in the community’s gardens and nurseries.
“I decided to be part of this program because I really want to help my community to continue protecting its mountains and its biodiversity,” says Juan. He hopes to one day become a nature guide to teach visitors about the natural wonders within Chicuate-Chinguelas.
We’re excited to see future discoveries made by Juan and his peers in Chicuate-Chinguelas!