A recent wildlife survey led by SERNANP (Servicio Nacional de Áreas Naturales Protegidas por el Estado) and WCS (Wildlife Conservation Society) in the Historic Sanctuary of Machu Picchu in Peru has confirmed that the world-famous site is also home to a biologically important and iconic species: the Andean bear
The Andean Bean of South America is found from Venezuela to Northern Argentina. The Andean bears are also known as spectacled bears due to their rings of white or light fur around their eyes. According to the San Diego Zoo, the rings around their eyes can look like eyeglasses, or spectacles, against the rest of their dark brown fur.
San Diego Zoo’s website states, “These markings often extend down the chest, giving each bear a unique appearance and helping researchers identify each bear by its “mug shot”. The markings also give the bear its scientific name: Tremarctos ornatus, or decorated bear. “
In Venezuela, this species has 2 distinct ranges. The spectacled bears in Venezuela depend mainly on humid mountain forests along the Andes Cordillera. While the bear is now exploring new regions, it is also facing extinction. There are efforts in South America to protect the bear from extinction.
“The most effective measure for the conservation of Andean bears in Bolivia is the national system of protected areas,” Wallace told Mongabay Latam.” Although the hunting of Andean bears is rare, it usually relates to the conflict between humans and wildlife, either by an affectation to their livestock or corn crops.”
Earth Touch Network wrote about the survey revealing impressive findings.
“According to the survey, the species is much more common within the boundaries of the UNESCO site (and in the areas surrounding it) than we thought. Researchers found evidence of Andean bears in more than 95% of the 368-square-kilometre area studied, which includes the entirety of Machu Picchu. Although it was previously known that some bears lived within the study range, the survey revealed an unexpectedly large population.”
The unexpected surprise population is actually good news as the bear’s numbers are dwindling in South America. There are less than 3,000 of the Paddington look-alike bears left in the wild according to OEW.