Critical wildlife habitat now permanently protected in Ecuador

02 May 2014 | News story

A consortium of partners including the IUCN SSC Amphibian Specialist Group/Amphibian Survival Alliance, Rainforest Trust (RT), Global Wildlife Conservation (GWC) and the American Bird Conservancy (ABC) have come together to enable local partner Fundación Jocotoco to purchase 6,100 acres of critical wildlife habitat in Ecuador. Previously Fundación Jocotoco had purchased Sunfohuayco, an adjoining property of close to 6,000 acres. The mammoth property acquisition will create a permanent refuge for three threatened species of frogs which are found nowhere else, and the largest population of Andean Condor (Vultur gryphus) in the Northern Andes.

The final 6,100 acre property, called Hacienda Antisanilla, was acquired to complete a project by the Ministry of Natural Resources of Ecuador, Fundación Jocotoco, the Municipality of Quito, and the Quito Water Authority that will both protect endangered species and secure an important source of drinking water for Ecuador’s capital city. The total protected area by this group amounts to approximately 270,000 acres.

“The purchase of Hacienda Antisanilla was critical, as this property held the most important site for roosting and nesting Andean Condors – Ecuador’s National bird and emblazoned on our national flag.” noted Fundación Jocotoco Executive Director Rocio Merino. “So after years of struggling, we were able to purchase and protect the area thanks to the constant support of the Rainforest Trust and Quito authorities.”

The glaciers of the 3.5 mile-high Antisana Volcano give way to unique highland steppe and descend into lush subtropical forests on the Andean slopes and into Amazonian rainforest. Located just 20 miles from Quito, this enormous but undeveloped area first attracted the attention of conservationists in the 1980s. The Ecuadorian government declared it an ecological reserve in 1993, but the area remained in private hands. Much of the land continued to be farmed, and wildlife was increasingly threatened by over-grazing, fires, and poaching.

Home to the largest single population of condors in the Northern Andes, Antisana is also frequented by Cougars, Spectacled Bears, and the endangered Woolly Tapir. Antisana is of critical global importance for biodiversity and highlighted as an Alliance for Zero Extinction site due to the presence of no less than three species of threatened frogs - Papallacta robber frog (Pristimantis acerus), Fire robber frog (Pristimantis ignicolor) and Antisana robber frog (Pristimantis lividus).

“This enormous land protection project is even more significant as not only does it help to protect the most critical source of water for the ever-expanding city of Quito but it also connects to two adjacent protected areas, Cayambe-Coca Ecological Reserve and Gran Sumaco National Park,” said Dr Paul Salaman, CEO of Rainforest Trust, “Combined, these protected areas safeguard 1.8 million acres of biologically diverse Andean and Amazonian ecosystems.”

This land purchase project was made possible by the efforts of the Paul G. Allen Family Foundation, Fundación Jocotoco, Rainforest Trust, Ministry of Environment, the Quito Municipality, the Quito Water Authority (EMAAP), the Quito Water Fund (FONAG), EcoFondo, American Bird Conservancy, Blue Moon Foundation, Global Wildlife Conservation, Andrew Sabin Family Foundation, March Foundation, and private donors.


For more information, please contact:

Candace M. Hansen, Amphibian Survival Alliance; cmhansen@amphibians.org
 


This image shows the courtship behavior of Indian Bull frogs (Holobatrachus tigerinus). During the monsoon, the breeding males become bright yellow in color, while females remain dull. The prominent blue vocal sacs of male produce strong nasal mating call.