April 10, 2012
Fundación ProAves, with the support of WLT-US, has established a new 7,076-acre nature reserve to protect the Chocó rainforest and buffer the threats to adjacent Embera indigenous communities. Located in Colombia, the rainforest contains one of the highest concentrations of endemic biodiversity in the world with many birds, plants, and amphibians at risk of extinction. The area is home to several rare and threatened bird species, including the Endangered Chocó Vireo and Gold-ringed Tanager, as well as other threatened species such as the spectacled bear and jaguar.
The Las Tangaras Nature Reserve is one of the most diverse and important tropical forest sites on earth and will protect a great elevational gradient--from 2,000 to 12,900 feet above sea level. This area protects the watershed of the Rio Atrato, the Chocó's most important river which serves as a vital economic resource for tens of thousands of inhabitants living in poor rural communities. A total of sixteen private colonist properties in the area were acquired to create the 7,076-acre reserve.
"We are strategically acquiring and protecting a critical area of privately held rainforest to create a buffer zone against colonization and strengthen the protection of adjacent indigenous communities that are besieged by gold-miners and ranchers," stated Dr. Paul Salaman, Chief Executive Officer of WLT-US, a champion of conservation action in the mega diverse Chocó Hotspot.
The Las Tangaras Nature Reserve, owned and operated by Fundación ProAves, is expected to be a major attraction to visiting birdwatchers and nature tourists. The area boasts remarkable opportunities for birding (over 250 species documented at the reserve so far) in a country that is home to more avian species than any other on the planet. A spacious, eight-bedroom lodge; a house for staff; and a restaurant featuring a balcony overlooking the Atrato river were just constructed. Other important species found in the reserve include the endangered Chestnut-bellied Flowerpiercer, Yellow-eared Parrot, the vulnerable Black-and-Gold Tanager, and Toucan Barbet.
At the end of March, Dr. Salaman traveled to Colombia to participate in the Reserve launch. We hope all of our supporters will consider visiting the Reserve if they have occasion to be in that area of Colombia so they can see first-hand what they helped to create.
"Visitors will be astounded how easy it is to see an incredible diversity of rare and little known biodiversity, including a dozen endemic bird species. We hope people will come from all over to visit and appreciate what the Colombian Chocó has to offer, be they from nearby Medellin or from Miami or London," commented Lina Daza, Executive Director of Fundación ProAves.
Visitor information: Located four hours by highway from the city of Medellin, the Las Tangaras reserve lies at the gateway from the Andean highlands into the Choco lowlands and offers spectacular scenery, lush forests, and some of Colombia's rarest wildlife attractions, all conveniently located around the spacious Mary Giles lodge in a meandering loop of the Rio Atrato.