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|June 2, 3:05 am CT|
Help Save The Maned Wolf From Extinction
The maned wolf is a unique canid species. Despite its appearance, it is not closely related to foxes, wolves, jackals, or to domestic dogs; instead it may be the only modern survivor of a group of South American canids that went extinct about six million years ago. At one point, its one-of-a-kind "roar-bark" could be heard throughout much of eastern Bolivia.
Now the maned wolf is classified as a threatened species. In Bolivia, where less than a thousand of these fascinating creatures remain, its habitat is rapidly being cleared for agricultural production. This includes the Beni savanna, a biologically rich area that is home not only to the elusive maned wolf, but also to the critically endangered blue-throated Macaw and other rare animals.
Preserve the Blue-Throated Macaw
EcologyFund is working with Rainforest Trust to help protect and preserve the Critically Endangered Blue-throated Macaw, which is found in only one place on earth: the Beni Savannas of Bolivia. This complex ecosystem of grasslands, marshes, forest islands and gallery forest is largely in the hands of cattle ranchers and every year untold habitat is lost to intentional burning for pastureland. Today, less than 400 Blue-throated Macaws remain.
In July 2008 WLT-US, in conjunction with American Bird Conservancy and local partner Asociación Armonía Bolivia, helped create the Barba Azul Nature Reserve in the Santa Ana District of the Beni, the first and only protected area for the Critically Endangered Blue-throated Macaw. The 12,261 acre Barba Azul Nature Reserve protects several threatened bird species and the neglected Beni Bolivian grassland habitat.
The Beni Savannah is one of only two endemic ecosystems in Bolivia with five distinctive habitat types: savannah, treed savannah (Cerrado), forest islands, gallery forest and marsh wetlands. It is considered an Endangered Critical ecosystem yet the habitat is not nationally protected. The area has undergone hundreds of years of logging and cattle ranching disturbing, the grasslands with overgrazing, yearly burning and replanting with exotic grassland species. The habitat is also threatened by the impending expansion of mechanized farming for biofuels in the near future.
The Barba Azul Nature Reserve protects the IUCN red listed Maned Wolf as well as high concentrations of Giant Anteater, Pampas deer (both Near threatened), Southern Tamandua, Black Howler Monkey, Jaguar, Puma, Capybara. Many of these are landscape species which require large expanses of protected areas to maintain viable populations.
Four years of field work searching for the birds has revealed that the Santa Ana district is the only site in the world with gregarious groups of Blue-throated Macaws. The highest census count recorded over 109 Blue-throated Macaws wintering in the Barba Azul Nature Reserve. All other areas of the macaw’s range consist of isolated pairs or pairs with chicks. Before the discovery of the Santa Ana district area, flocks of Blue-throated Macaw had never been seen. Given the global importance of this single site, it is a priority for the conservation of the species to protect as much of the area as possible.
Protect the Endangered Cotton-Top Tamarin
Help save critically endangered cotton-top tamarin habitat that will otherwise be sold to destructive cattle ranching interests.
The tiny cotton-top tamarin numbers less than 6,000 individuals, and has already suffered the loss of 80% of its habitat -- 30% in just the last decade. It lives only in northwest Colombia, in a rainforest that also supports hundreds of bird species and many other mammals, including the elusive jaguar and the spectacled bear.
But much of the remaining habitat is owned privately - and in addition to being threatened by agriculture, fuel, and housing, now cattle interests want to buy it, and tear down the rainforest to create grazing land.
Rainforest Trust (WLT-US) has a great reputation for fairness and land management among the Colombian people, and most would prefer to sell their land for conservation rather than destructive cattle ranching. The WLT-US program includes the initial land purchase, long-term habitat protection and management for species survival, training local indigenous people to monitor the land, and making the reserve self-sustaining through locally directed ecotourism.