The isolation of the Cerros del Sira from the main Andean chain and its rugged and remote landscape has both allowed the evolution of unique wildlife found nowhere else and provided threatened wildlife a high elevation refuge away from human disturbance. Below we introduce some of the Sira's most iconic inhabitants.
Status: Critically endangered
An endemic species to the Sira reserve; with as few as 250 adult individuals estimate to exist, and only found between 1100-1700 m a.s.l. Our project gathered the first ever camera trap photos and videos of the species, and showed camera trap technology to be a useful tool to detect Sira Curassow. As such, this technology could be used to model occupancy for the species throughout the range and across seasons. Hunting and climate change pose a significant threat to this flagship species of the reserve.
The basis for the famous character Paddington bear, the Spectacled Bear is under serious threat from loss of habitat and persecution by humans (often where tasty crops lie close to their distribution). We detected Spectacled Bear along our transect; 100km from its nearest known distribution projected on the IUCN red list of threatened species. The bears are particularly inquisitive with the camera traps and were responsible for pushing a few of our cameras into useless positions!
This beautiful little toad is endemic to the Sira reserve, and only found at elevations >1350m a.s.l. Unusually for a toad, these little guys are arboreal and come climb up onto the shrubby vegetation during the night. They are wonderfully painted with little red and yellow spots, and have a vibrant orange belly. Climate change is a serious threat for a species that depends on the highest elevations and cooler temperatures.
Status: Near Threatened
The emblematic Jaguar not only roams the lowland forests throughout the Amazon, but has been captured on our cameras from the base of our transect right up to the summit at 1930m a.s.l. The high elevations of the Sira likely acts as a refuge for a species that has lost vast swathes of habitat in lower lying areas and is killed by people when they come into direct contact.
Status: Not evaluated
The Bushmaster is the longest viper in the world, believed to exist strictly within primary or old growth forest habitat. The team have encountered two large individuals inside the Sira reserve, one at 950m a.s.l. and a second individual at 1400m a.s.l. Much like the Jaguar, this species is regularly killed by local people. Despite its potent venom, the Bushmaster is a reserved and secretive species, preferring to avoid contact with people.