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Face-to-face encounter with Andean bear

Biologist Tashkin Meza meets a female Andean bear and her cub at Rainforest Concern's Neblina Reserve.
Rc Andeanbear Tashkin

On the 22nd of September, Tashkin Meza was in Neblina Reserve, Imbabura province of Ecuador, with his family, when he heard the sound of branches breaking. As he looked up towards the trees he was surprised to see a curious bear watching him from a fig tree, where she was breaking the branches to get at the figs, then he spotted the bear's cub waiting for her below.

When we looked up and peered through the trees, we found ourselves surprised by a curious bear watching us from a tree.

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Unfazed by Tashkin's presence, the bears carried on feeding and climbing the tree.

Competing with Andean Guans for the figs, Andean bears are primarily vegetarian and are known to eat bromeliads, fruit and palms. Reminiscent of pandas, they also feed on Andean bamboos.

Their heavy consumption of fruit and forest disturbance mean that these bears play an important role in forest ecology: the seeds they eat are excreted in their droppings as the bears move around, spreading the seeds over long distances for the production of the next generation of fruit trees throughout the forest.

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Research on the Andean bear

Tashkin, who also works with Cotacachi Cayapas Ecological Reserve located near to Neblina, collected some camera trap footage of a male spectacled bear scent marking. These camera traps were installed in Neblina Reserve as part of an AmbienConsul project with support of the GAD Municipal Santa Ana de Cotacachi.