Archive for July, 2010

Wild Eyed Primate Thought To Be Extinct Caught on Camera For The First TIme

Saturday, July 31st, 2010

As you know species are going extinct today 1000 times faster than historical natural cycles.  Our mission is to protect endangered land and those species that live on the land.

So we were very excited when we read this article about the Horton Plains Slender Loris, a small nocturnal animal that can grow up to 6 inches long, thought to be extinct, being caught on camera in the forests of Sri Lanka for the first time.  However, the loris maybe in trouble as a species if deforestation in Sri Lanka is not controlled.

Experts say that deforestation in Sri Lanka, due to cutting down the forests to create tea plantations, was the biggest threat to the loris.  The destruction of their natural forest for both farming and logging has cut off the loris from their partners.  Because they can’t move to one anther, they can’t mate and breed. Therefore there are real implications for the survival of the loris.

The Horton Plains Slender Loris is one of the world’s most threatened primates. Experts estimate there are just 100 left or even fewer. Their numbers may even be below 60 – which would make it the rarest primate species.

Because for many years they were thought to be extinct, very little or almost nothing is known about them. Unless their natural habitat is preserved and we do something to protect them they will be extinct.

Read the complete article about the Horton Plains Slender Loris here

The Mamoni Valley as Part of the Mesoamerica Biodiversity Hotspot

Wednesday, July 14th, 2010

ecoReserve’s first reserve is located in the Mamoni Valley in Panama and is part of the Mesoamerica Biodiversity Hotspot. Will Cadell, our geospatial engineer, provided a map that shows the location of the Mesoamerica Biodiversity Hotspot and the location of the Mamoni Valley in the hotspot (the red lines delimit outer boundaries of the Mamoni Valley).

Mesoamerica Biodiversity Hotspot

The term biodiversity hotspot refers to 34 biologically rich areas around the world that have lost at least 70 percent of their original habitat. The remaining land in these hotspots amounts to just 1.4 percent of the land surface of the planet, yet these hotspots support almost 60 percent of the world’s plant, bird, mammal, reptile, and amphibian species. The Mesoamerican forests are the third largest among the world’s hotspots. As we discussed in an earlier post, the Mesoamerica Biodiversity Hotspot spans most of Central America, encompassing all subtropical and tropical ecosystems from central Mexico to the Panama Canal and includes the Mamoni Valley.

The Mesoamerica Biodiversity Hotspot is very important for biodiversity as it represents the place where the animals and plants from two regions come together (the Nearctic of North America and the Neotropical of South and Central America). About 3 million years ago, sections of Central America rose above sea level and formed a land bridge between the north and the south. After that occurred, species began to flow in both directions between the continents, and this helped to facilitate Mesoamerica’s unique and diverse variety of animals and plants. Because the mountains that exist in this hotspot are a barrier, there are many differences in both the animals and the plants between the Pacific and Caribbean coasts. However, the valleys and lowlands running parallel to the mountains are natural corridors for animal and human migrations and help facilitate the unique and diverse variety of plants. The Mamoni Valley is an important natural corridor for these animal migrations.

This map provides more detail of the area and the Mamoni Valley, the location of ecoReserve’s first reserve.

Biodiversity includes both flora and fauna (plants and animals endemic to the area). The Mesoamerica Biodiversity Hotspot is home to many animals, including over 400 species of mammals. The Mamoni Valley is home to many of these species of mammals, including the Silky Anteater. The status of the Silky Anteater (Cyclopes didactylus) is vulnerable but going up. Lider Sucre, the director of the Biodiversity Museum, says, “Yes, we have these guys, and they are somewhat common in numbers but HARD to find!! The local name is “Tapacara”, meaning “Face covered”, you can see from the picture that when found they cover their face as if embarrassed.”

Silky Anteater

Our junior researcher reports that they were named for their coat texture and that these guys live in cotton plants, have hooks for claws, and have prehensile tails. Their diet consists of ants, termites, bees, and ladybugs. (They’re immune to the poison.) The silky anteater is only one of the species that lives in the Mesoamerica Biodiversity Hotspot and the Mamoni Valley. There are many more species that are native to the area and need to be protected to ensure their survival.

Biological Corridors Needed to Protect Species at Risk: Report From Canada

Monday, July 12th, 2010

Biological Corridors and the Importance of Biological Corridors to Ensure Species Survival

We thought we would take a moment to discuss another part of the world where species are endangered and where biological corridors are needed. Let’s recall the idea of a biological corridor. A wildlife corridor is a route comprising a continuous, or nearly continuous, stretch of open land, woodland or water, which facilitates the movement of wildlife species, the aim of which is to prevent the genetic isolation of wildlife populations.

As we talked about in an earlier entry, ecoReserve is part of the Mesoamerican Biological Corridor and It was started in 1998 to keep 106 critically endangered species from going extinct. Biological corridors are required everywhere to ensure species survival.

A new report out of Canada says that ” Ensuring Canada’s woodland caribou, eastern wolf and other at-risk species survival will require bigger, more interconnected parks”. This report points to the importance of biological corridors being started in Canada to protect the survival of those at-risk species and once again highlighting the importance of setting up Biological Corridors around the world as a means of protecting all at-risk species and their habitats.

The report writes that “Canada’s parks are an uneven patchwork in terms of how much protection they offer endangered wildlife, and concluded the third annual review of how wildlife are faring in Canada’s parks released Friday by the Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society.

“There are quite a few [species] that in fact rely very heavily on parks as their main habitat,” said Eric Hébert-Daly, the group’s executive director. “Having really big parks, to keep large habitat in tact, having them connected to other protected areas is quite essential.”

“The smaller ones that aren’t connected tend to be the ones that have a hard time.””

The report praises the Canadian government and its efforts to create more parks, including the recently announced Gwaii Haanas National Marine Conservation Area in B.C., Sable Island in Nova Scotia and the Mealy Mountains in Newfoundland and Labrador.

It also notes that other efforts such as establishing a protective zone around Ontario’s Algonquin Park and connecting parks in the Rocky Mountains have had a positive effect on species like the eastern wolf and grizzly bear.

However some species (such as woodland caribou) are still struggling and this is mostly due to human activity.

“The moment you start developing roads, the predator-prey relationship gets unbalanced,” he said. Caribou may have a harder time fleeing and hiding from wolves, for example, and are very sensitive to development.”

Read more: CBC News

The Mesoamerican Biological Corridor – What is it, why is it significant?

Thursday, July 8th, 2010

The Mesoamerican Biological Corridor – What is it and why is it significant?

dark green = current reserves | light green = developing reserves

The ecoReserve project in Panama is located within the Mesoamerican Biological Corridor, which is also known as the Jaguar Trail or Path of the Panther.  We thought we’d take a moment to talk about why this is significant.

First, what is a biological corridor (also known as wildlife corridor)?  A wildlife corridor is a route comprising a continuous, or nearly continuous, stretch of open land, woodland or water, which facilitates the movement of wildlife species, the aim of which is to prevent the genetic isolation of wildlife populations.

The Mesoamerican Biological Corridor, specifically, is a large habitat corridor in , stretching from southeastward through most of Central America, connecting several national parks. It was started in 1998 to keep 106 critically endangered species from going extinct.

Mesoamerica is made up of the five southern states of Mexico and the Central American countries of Guatemala, Belize, El Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, and Panama.  These governments agreed to coordinate their efforts to encourage a huge system of interconnected parks, reserves and wildlife corridors that literally link North America to South America.  ecoReserve will be adding one additional reserve to this system.

The Mesoamerican region is very large and covers 768,990 square kilometers. It includes lowland rainforests, pine savannas, semi-arid woodlands, grasslands, high mountain forests, and coral reefs. Although the region contains only 0.5 percent of the world’s land surface, Mesoamerica is home about 7 percent of the earth’s biological diversity.

In recent decades, Mesoamerica has seen some of the highest deforestation rates in the world; between 1980 and 1990, deforestation averaged 1.4 percent annually, and it is estimated that 80 percent of the area’s original habitat has been cleared or severely modified. More than half of Mesoamerica’s forests have been lost and approximately 90 percent of its primary or “frontier” forests have been logged, converted to agriculture, or replaced with tree plantations.

Wildlife corridors become especially important in the face of human activities such as roads, development, or logging that may bisect the routes that animals normally traverse.  Animal movement allows an exchange of individuals between populations, which may help prevent the negative effects of inbreeding and reduced genetic diversity that often occur within isolated populations.

In the Mamoni Valley, where the ecoReserve project will be located, the wildlife corridor has been partially degraded by logging and cattle-ranching which has turned primary forest into pastures or barren dirt.  Animals are reluctant to traverse these open areas because it makes them vulnerable to predators.

ecoReserve will be reforesting and restoring degraded land and protecting primary rainforest that still exists within the Mamoni Valley.  The ecoReserve reserve will also provide a buffer zone for the protected primary rainforest land of the indigenous Kuna that is still intact. We are looking forward to providing one more link in the chain of reserves that protect the famed Jaguar Trail.