Help with wildlife conservation in Ecuador on a scientific research project collecting radio telemetry data and hair samples of the Andean or spectacled bear. You’ll be tracking Andean bears in the mountains, cloud forests and páramo of northern Ecuador. South America’s only bear species, Tremarctos ornatus, is classed as “vulnerable” due to habitat loss and hunting (farmers illegally kill bears which eat their maize).
This scientific research project run by biologist and bear expert Armando Castellanos is investigating the ranges and habits of the Andean bear. With this information we will create a land management plan to avoid human-conflict in agricultural areas.
Andean bears are timid, solitary creatures living in dense cloud forests and are rarely seen by humans. Despite being large mammals, little is known about them. Your volunteer work here will extend the world’s understanding of the bears´ ecology and behaviour in the hope of saving them from extinction.
This volunteer position is a fantastic opportunity for biology students or graduates to gain practical experience in the field. For those wanting a career as a wildlife biologist working in conservation biology or mammal monitoring, participating in this internationally-respected project will provide valuable data collection experience. At times there might be chances to be involved in bear capture, and in January – March we may be searching for the dens where the female bears give birth.
Volunteers must be patient, adaptable, healthy and fit enough to walk at altitude in variable weather conditions and difficult terrain.
Thesis topics for which the Andean Bear project may consider accepting a research student or graduate include:
• Genetics (population genetics, pedigree, etc.) of the Andean or spectacled bear, Tremarctos ornatus
• Marking behavior of Andean bears
• The role of the Andean bear as a seed disperser
• Bromatology – nutritional value of the various components of the bears’ diet
This is a fantastic opportunity for a Spanish-speaking Masters or PhD student with a genuine interest in bears to do their thesis research on this endangered species. You’ll be based in northern Ecuador in an area of beautiful cloud forests and mountains.