Farmers in Colombia threaten the elusive Andean bear | Global Ideas | DW | 09.09.2020

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Global Ideas

Farmers in Colombia threaten the elusive Andean bear

The Andean bear faces threats from poachers, farmers and disappearing habitat in the jungles of South America. Two scientists are on a mission to protect them.

Watch video 07:10

Colombia: Guardians of the spectacled bear

Project goal: Protecting the animals and raising awareness of their importance to Colombia's Andean jungles.

Project implementation: Studying the bear and its behavior, organizing workshops to educate farmers in the region on how to protect the creature as an essential species for the environment.

Project partners: Wii Foundation and Bioandina Foundation, which runs "The Sanctuary for Andean Bears."

With its shy nature, shaggy fur and patches around the eyes that resemble spectacles, the Andean bear doesn't seem like much of a threat. Farmers in the Andean region of South America feel differently, however, and hunt them because they believe the only bear on the continent is a threat to their cattle.

Hunting is one of the reasons, alongside deforestation and the spread of towns into bear habitat, that the animal is under threat.

Biologist Daniel Rodriguez has been studying the Andean bear for more than 30 years. Together with vet and director of Bioandina, Orlando Feliciano, he's been on a mission to protect the vulnerable species, create an understanding of the animal's importance for the region and provide a sanctuary for wounded bears in Colombia's Andean mountains.

Each time the researchers return an Andean bear to the wild and follow up on their breeding success, they know all the hard work is worth it.

A film by Carolina Chimoy and Carlos Rincon

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