Spectacled Bears making a comback at Machu Picchu

Spectacled Bears making a comback at Machu Picchu

It seems that tourists are not the only ones exploring the Machu Picchu Sanctuary in ever greater numbers. Spectacled bears appear to be thriving in the protected World Heritage park.

Machu Picchu's natural inhabitants, endangered Spectacled Bears, are spreading out across the sanctuary, and it's good news for Conservation!José Carlos Nieto, Machu Picchu’s chief of Peru’s National Service of Protected Natural Areas (Sernanp), says monitoring of Andean bears over the past three years reveals the presence of the species in more than 95 percent of the 91,250 acres of protected natural area.

A previous study had shown that the Andean bears’ habitat covered only a northwest portion of the sanctuary, occupying less than 30 percent of the greater Machu Picchu protected zone.

“Andean Bears are very reclusive by nature and rarely seen in the wild, making species monitoring and evaluation a difficult task,” according to the Wildlife Conservation Society, which helped carry out the studies. “Currently the bear is listed by the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species as Vulnerable and WCS scientists in Andean bear range countries are developing new tools and protocols to evaluate and understand the current distribution of bear populations.”

Establishing the spectacled bear population and habitat growth is important “to set the baseline for future assessments and planning activities Of management that allow its long-term conservation,” Nieto told state-run news agency Andina.

The research results were announced as part of the activities celebrating the 36th anniversary of Machu Picchu being declared a Historic Sanctuary on January 8, 1981. It was declared a World Heritage site by UNESCO in 1983.

There were six reported sightings of spectacled bears during 2016. Tourists rarely see the reclusive creatures. One exception happened last May, when a young bear was spooked by the din of an army helicopter, possibly piloted by former President Ollanta Humala, himself.

The bear made a dash through Machu Picchu, crossing paths with tourists. Cable news station Canal N broadcast a video of the bear’s rare daylight incursion into Peru’s premier tourist attraction.

The little guy was reportedly caught by park guards and returned to his mother in the cloud forest.

Authored by: Rick Vecchio

Rick Vecchio, Fertur’s director of development and marketing, was educated at the New School for Social Research and Columbia Graduate School of Journalism. He worked for Pacifica Radio WBAI and as a daily reporter for newspapers in New Jersey, New York and Massachusetts. Then in 1996, he decided it was time to realize a life-long dream of traveling to Peru. He never went back. While serving as Peru country manager for the South American Explorers from 1997-1999, he fell in love with Fertur's founder, Siduith Ferrer, and they married. Over the next six years, he worked as a correspondent for The Associated Press. Meanwhile, Siduith built the business, which he joined in January 2007. Now he designs custom educational and adventure tour packages for corporate and institutional clients, oversees Fertur’s Internet platform and occasionally leads special trips, always with an eye open for a good story to write about.

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