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Fundación ProAves’ El Dorado Nature Reserve is part of the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta mountain range which boasts the highest concentration of endemic birds in the world and protects a breeding stronghold of the Santa Marta Parakeet, along with a variety of rare amphibians and plants.
Unfortunately, these species are now struggling to survive amidst the tragic destruction of their habitats. Though the reserve is a designated protected area which prevents logging and other negative land uses, it has been drastically impacted by recent ecological disasters.
In the spring, two fires swept through the reserve and spread rapidly since they occurred during the dry season. This catastrophe damaged nearly 124 acres of forest habitat, including the nest boxes for the Endangered Santa Marta Parakeet.
This fall, Hurricane Matthew caused major damage to the reserve’s infrastructure and trees, and wildlife populations that depend on this land severely suffered. The ProAves staff witnessed heartbreaking scenes when surveying the destruction, including lifeless hummingbirds and a Scarlet-fronted Parakeet that had plummeted to its death because of the intense storm, a branch still clutched in its claw.
Fortunately no humans were hurt, but it will take momentous efforts to return this reserve to its spectacular nature. With your help, El Dorado Nature Reserve can once again be a safe refuge for the species that call this place home.
Sierra de Santa Marta, Northeastern Colombia
Santa Marta Parakeet (EN), Santa Marta Toro (DD), San Lorenzo Harlequin Frog (CR)
Uncontrolled colonization, conversion for pasture, habitat degradation from human activities
Disaster relief for the El Dorado Nature Reserve
Numerous scientific publications and every major international conservation organizations has identified the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta as the planet’s single most important site for threatened and endemic biodiversity.
Boasting the highest rates of bird endemism in the world, the range is home to over 600 bird species, including more than 20 found nowhere else, such as the Santa Marta Parakeet (Pyrrhura viridicata) and the Santa Marta Warbler (Basileuterus basilicus). The Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta also hosts a stunning diversity of rare and endemic amphibians species, including the critically endangered Harlequin frog (Atelopus nahumae),that are threatened by habitat loss. Isolated from other mountainous regions, many of the species found in the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta evolved there and are not found anywhere else in the world. While many of its species have already been identified, the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta still holds biological secrets. In 2011, the Santa Marta Toro, a cute hamster-like mammal long-thought extinct, was rediscovered after an absence of 110 years. Laura and Bella Carriker, direct descendents of South American naturalist Melbourne Carriker, help tell the story of the urgent need to save the irreplaceable land and wildlife of the Colombian rainforest.
Major ecological disasters have negatively impacted the wildlife habitats at El Dorado Nature Reserve. Two fires swept through the property this spring and destroyed nearly 124 acres of forest, and Hurricane Matthew caused major damage to the trees and infrastructure of the reserve.
Following decades of uncontrolled colonization and agricultural expansion, only 15% of the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta’s original vegetation remains unaltered. Principle threats include the expansion of farms, pasturelands, and coffee plantations. In addition, the construction of new vacation homes poses a growing danger to forests. Many endemic species are found at altitudes between 4,300-9,200 feet, where their range comprises less than 190 square miles. Deterioration of this habitat poses a critical risk of extinction for many of these species.
Deep in Colombia’s Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta Mountains live 20,000 indigenous Kogi people. A culturally intact pre-Colombian society, the Kogi have lived in remote conditions since Spanish conquest.
The Kogi have been joined in more recent times by Colombian colonists that survive on a local economy dedicated to cattle ranching and coffee production.
Thanks to the generous support of our Board members and other supporters who cover all of our operating expenses, Rainforest Trust is able to allocate 100% of donations to conservation action. No board member receives financial benefit and our staff salaries are modest.
Rainforest Trust is a registered 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization.
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