Spectacled bear – Andean Bear Foundation


Ours à lunettes © C. CORET

Spectacled bear
(Tremarctos ornatus)

  • Height: 1.30m to 1.90m
  • Shoulder height: 75cm
  • Weight: 70-175kg
  • Weight at birth: 300-500g
  • Reproduction: April to June. The female is sexually mature around 4 years old. The cubs are born between December and February.
  • Feeding: fruits, sugar cane, and a lot of other plants. Meat only represents about 5% of its diet (birds, insects, small rodents)
  • Characteristics: Black or dark brown fur, pretty long. Yellow or white patch around the eyes, muzzle and sometimes, forehead, neck and jowls. Each bear has different markings but they stay the same throughout its life.
  • Habitat: Andes, from Chile to Columbia and Venezuela.
  • Remaining population: A few thousands, not a reliable estimation.
  • Status IUCN: vulnerable
  • Life expectancy: 25 years

Update on 06/21/2016:
38 wristbands sold – 412€ collected 

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Partner organisation: Andean Bear Foundation

AVES France has been supporting the Andean Bear Foundation, based in Ecuador, for years. ABF nurses orphan spectacled bears cubs and reintroduces them to their natural habitat after a rehabilitation process that teaches them to survive on their own (what their mother would have taught).

ABF also works with local communities to help Ecuadorians to live with bears. They also conduct local studies to learn more about bears and tapirs.

Ecuador is currently facing a lot of changes: forests are razed by the palm oil and oil industries, wild animals are hunted by poachers and by farmers that blame bears for destroying their plantations.

Over the last 10 years, 8 orphan cubs have been saved by the ABF and the minister of the environment. Unfortunately, the rescue of the cubs was caused by poaching. The poachers left the cubs to fend for themselves after killing their mother. They wouldn’t stand a chance without the care of their mother.

There are more and more conflicts between the wildlife and humans in Ecuador and the illegal trade of bear cubs is growing rapidly. This is mostly caused by the loss of their habitat, forests are being transformed into farm land. It’s important to act fast to save this species from extinction.

ABF, with the support from AVES France, is trying to resolve those conflicts and protects the spectacled bear and its habitat. They monitor wild and reintroduced bears directly, or via radio-tracking devices. The main objective is to better our understanding of how they live by collecting data on their most basic needs. This center organises  the saving, rehabilitation and reintroduction of the cubs into their natural habitat to give them a second chance.

The rehabilitation helps the cub learn what its mother didn’t have time to teach to survive in the wild. By the end of the rehabilitation, if the cub’s physical and psychological state are deemed satisfactory, a reintroduction program can then start for him to bring him back to his roots. Over the last 10 years, ABF’s rehabilitation and reintroduction program has been 100% successful.

The spectacled bear is the only bear you can find in South America. Its name comes from the white patches around its eyes. It lives high in the Andes. It has a real ecological role as it helps regenerate forests: it disperses the seeds found in the food it eats.

This bear is one of the most rare and endangered in the world because of the massive deforestation caused by the expansion of farm lands. The spectacled bear is also hunted for its meat that is a rare delicacy in Peru, also for its fur, bile and fat, used in traditional medicine. The bears sometimes fed on the farmers’ corn and they thought they were attacking their livestock, but without any concrete proof. Since then, there’s even more pressure on them: they’re suspected of attacking tapirs and cows. Special pesticides have been used to keep the bears away.

This bear is mostly active from dusk until dawn. It eats berries, grass, sugar cane, corn or small mammals. During the dry season, they can survive by eating bark. It can easily climb trees (up to 15m) thanks to its claws and can even stay in the same tree for days after building a nest made of branches.

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