Andean Bear Project Venezuela
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F I NA L R EP O R T OCT OBE R 1999 Andean Bear Project Venezuela Fostering International Cooperation in a World of Rapid Change Contact Address: Apartado Postal 210, Mérida 5101-A, Estado Mérida, Venezuela. E-mail: email@example.com Web Site: http://andigena.cjb.net 2 Final Report: Andean Bear Project – Venezuela. October 1999. TABLE OF CONTENTS Page 1. INTRODUCTION………………………………………………………………………… 3 2. OBJECTIVES OF THE ORIGINAL PROPOSAL……………………………………………. 4 3. PROJECT LOCATION……………………………………………………………………. 4 4. RESULTS………………………………………………………………………………… 5 4.2. ENVIRONMENTAL EDUCATION ACTIVITIES………………………………………... 6 4.3. TRAVELING EXHIBIT……………………………………………………………….... 8 5. ANDEAN BEAR PROJECT @ INTERNET………………………………………………….. 12 6. INTER-INSTITUTIONAL RELATIONSHIPS………………………………………………... 13 7. MASS MEDIA CAMPAIGN……………………………………………………………….. 14 8. DISCUSSION…………………………………………………………………………….. 14 9. RECOMMENDATIONS…………………………………………………………………... 15 10. DISTINCTIVE FEATURES OF THE PROJECT……………………………………………... 15 11. CITED REFERENCES……………………………………………………………………... 16 12. ACKNOWLEDGMENTS…………………………………………………………………... 17 3 Final Report: Andean Bear Project – Venezuela. October 1999. Report written by: Denis Alexander Torres (*) President, Fundación AndígenA. (*) Member of the IUCN/ SSC Bear Specialist Group and the International Association for Bear Research and Management, U.S.A. 1. INTRODUCTION In 1980, during the V International Conference on Bear Research and Management, held in Madison, Wisconsin, USA, a group of 22 biologists met informally to discuss the creation of a specialist group devoted to research and conservation of the Andean Bear (Tremarctos ornatus). At that time, the species was virtually unknown to science, and published reports on its natural history were almost non-existent (SBSG 1980). Thus, using the model of other specialist groups within the Species Survival Commission of the World Conservation Union (then, the International Union for the Conservation of Nature), the group decided to create the Spectacled Bear Specialist Group (SBSG). From its beginnings, the SBSG was under the direction of Bernard Peyton and Jeffrey Jorgenson, two North American biologists who were carrying out field research on the species in Peru and Colombia, respectively. The contagious enthusiasm of Peyton and Jorgenson generated field research, numerous educational programs, and the creation of new conservation organizations throughout the Andean countries. The SBSG maintained a high level of activity during the following decade, publishing 14 bulletins, and facilitating the participation of Latin American scientists in professional meetings and field technique workshops in the United States (Jorgenson 1989). In 1988, Peyton and Jorgenson decided to step down and let Latin American scientists occupy their places as President and Secretary/Treasurer of the SBSG, respectively. That year, during the First International Symposium on Spectacled Bears, held at the Lincoln Park Zoo, Chicago, USA, the presidency of SBSG was transferred to the Colombian biologist, Jorge Orejuela (SBSG 1989). Orejuela had been actively involved in Andean Bear conservation, particularly since he became director of La Planada Nature Reserve in southern Colombia, a protected area that is the site of a successful captive breeding program for the species. The position of Secretary/Treasurer was accepted by Luis Suárez, who had experience with Andean Bear diet and habitat use research in Ecuador (Suárez 1985). Unfortunately, this was not a good change for the SBSG, and the activities of the specialist group gradually declined. In an attempt to rescue the group, Diana Weinhardt, then an Andean Bear keeper at Lincoln Park Zoo, joined Orejuela and Suárez in the steering committee. Nonetheless, the trend continued and the SBSG disintegrated by the mid 1990’s. Among the numerous initiatives strengthened by the SBSG before its decline was Venezuela’s Spectacled Bear Project (SBP) coordinated by PROVITA. Contrary to the history of the SBSG, however, SBP continued growing, largely due to early and continuous support from PROVITA (Venezuela), the Lincoln Park Zoo (Chicago, USA), Calgary Zoo (Canada), and People’s Trust for Endangered Species (London, United Kingdom), and recent funding from Cleveland Metroparks Zoo (USA) and Silver Springs Attractions (Florida, USA). Until 1998 PROVITA was the only Venezuelan non-governmental organization (NGO) that has uninterruptedly supported the SBP for more than a decade. Our leading role in Venezuela has allowed us to build an active network of collaborators and develop innovative conservation and research programs. This accumulated experience motivated the development of a new project that aims to bring together South American researchers and organizations for the conservation of the Andean bear. In this way, since 1999 SBP is coordinated by a new Venezuelan NGO named AndígenA. Several projects on Andean Bear are being carried out by different organizations throughout our region. For example, in Bolivia, Colombia and Venezuela, The Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) is currently supporting field research (Rumiz et al. 1997, Susanna Paisley, Sergio Sandoval, Isaac 4 Final Report: Andean Bear Project – Venezuela. October 1999. Goldstein pers. com.); in Ecuador, the World Society for the Protection of Animals (WSPA) is funding a field research and educational campaign (Armando Castellanos pers. com., Cuesta 1998); and in Venezuela, environmental education projects are being supported by Cleveland Metroparks Zoo. Andean Bear conservation can only be achieved by joining efforts. Without coordination, we run the risk of duplicating projects and using resources in an inefficient way. This is especially critical when national or regional governmental funds for conservation are scarce or non-existent. We still remember the “glory years” of the SBSG, and though the organization does not exist anymore, the will to assure the survival of the Andean Bear is alive and well. This proposal builds on SBP’s past work in Venezuela and initiates a process for reviving the rich collaboration between Latin American organizations involved in the conservation of the region’s natural resources in this rapidly changing world. Solutions are not simple, and it would be easy to despair in a complex landscape of often- contradictory social, economic, and environmental needs. But Andean bears and the soaring beauty of the Andes deserve our recognition and our help. Too much is at stake. As the Bear can scale precarious cliffs, so humans can resolve the uphill battles for conservation of the Andes. This report summarizes the results of a program entitled “Andean Bear Conservation Project: Fostering International Cooperation in a World of Rapid Change”, developed as an multi-institutional cooperative venture of Venezuelan and North American organizations, led by Foundation AndígenA and Cleveland Metroparks Zoo. 2. OBJECTIVES OF THE ORIGINAL PROPOSAL At the International Level: • Reinforce public interest for Andean Bear conservation throughout its South American range. • Establish an Andean regional cooperation program for the exchange of experiences, and the development of joint research and educational activities on behalf of Andean Bears. • Produce and distribute throughout the Andes a high-quality poster on Andean Bear biology and conservation. • Promote Andean Bear conservation among environmental law-enforcement agencies in the Andean countries. At the National Level: • Improve bear conservation in the rural Andes by strengthening and expanding the ongoing environmental education program, “The Andean Bear comes to school”. • Increase awareness among governmental officials on the importance of enforcing existing wildlife conservation laws. 3. PROJECT LOCATION Our activities were carried out mainly in the urban area of Mérida State, located in the middle portion of the Venezuelan Andean Cordillera. We selected this area because of its proximity to 2 national parks where bear populations exist; the potential for integrating concepts of bear conservation with those of the protection of its habitat and the great interest demonstrated by the local people. The pilot experience was thus aimed at developing interest among the local inhabitants about the conservation of plant and animal communities in these ecosystems. Likewise, we highlighted the value of the watershed in terms of its benefits to human settlements (i.e., water and electricity), and the importance of the Sierra Nevada and Sierra de La Culata (which is adjacent to Sierra Nevada) national parks as instruments to protect biodiversity and the services it provides. 5 Final Report: Andean Bear Project – Venezuela. October 1999. 4. RESULTS Month-by-Month Account of Program Development: In the original proposal we estimated that the program would last six months. The education program began in May 1998 and was completed by July 1998. To fulfill all stages, however, including development, implementation, monitoring, and final evaluation of the program we required eight months. Below is a month by month narrative. April • Contacts with other South American researchers and organizations were established with the purpose of joining forces for Andean Bear conservation. A preliminary design for a poster, based on material produced by the “The Andean Bear comes to school” program, was considered as model. • Environmental education instructors were selected for the work in the schools. • Preliminary visit to Bararida Zoo in Barquisimeto was done to define future collaboration. • A set of Andean Bear slides were offered by the British photographer Jim Clare for the production of environmental education material for the Spectacled Bear Project - Venezuela. • 500 Posters on Andean Bear biology and conservation were reprinted. • 3,000 Pamphlets were reprinted. • First answers were received from the Colombian Environment Ministry (Ministerio del Medio Ambiente) and Fundación Zoobreviven, Ecuador, in reference to their interest to participate in the poster project. • A Workshop for environmental education instructors was held in Mérida City (April 24). May • Teacher’s manual was reprinted. • A workshop for schoolteachers was held in Mérida City (May 7). • Environmental education activities began (weekly visits to urban schools started in Mérida, Ejido and Tabay). • Consultancy was offered for a thesis project on graphic design in the University of the Andes focused on the Andean bear. • New positive answers were received from Peru, Bolivia and Colombia. June • Continuation of environmental education activities. • A complete article on Andean Bear Project in Venezuela was published in “Reto” magazine. • A rural settlement was visited and bear skins were found, a sign of illegal hunting • The production of a Web site for the Andean Bears began. • The distribution of pamphlets and posters in other Andean states (Táchira and Lara States) commenced. • A plan was structured to visit rural settlements and to make public presentations on the conservation of Andean Bears and its habitat. • On 29, a large meeting was celebrated in Mucuchíes town, where more than 500 children spoke about Andean Bear Conservation. July • Continuation of environmental education activities. The fourth chapter of teacher’s manual was executed. • Andean Bear Project goes on line with the AndígenA Official Web Site. • After a few weeks of discussion, the Poster Project was changed and began the design of a traveling exhibit as focus of the international cooperation. • School activities finalize with the end of school year. 6 Final Report: Andean Bear Project – Venezuela. October 1999. August • Began the distribution of pamphlets and posters in other Andean states (Trujillo and Lara). • The production of the Traveling Exhibit was started. • The Bararida Zoo in Barquisimeto was contacted in order to expand the coverage of the project to Lara State, the easternmost limit of the range of the species. September • The Traveling Exhibit receives the official support from environmental organization in each country from the Andean bear range in South America. • After a hard work, finally the Traveling Exhibit was finished. October-November • The Traveling Exhibit was officially inaugurated during the "I Congreso Nor-Andino de Derecho Ambiental, Políticas e Instituciones", organized by World Wildlife Fund and held in the Universidad Simón Bolívar, Caracas. • The Traveling Exhibit was presented internationally in Colombia during the "Cuarta Conferencia Nacional de Páramos y Bosques Altoandinos y Conferencia Internacional", organized by IUCN, CENSAT, Ministerio del Medio Ambiente - Colombia, Universidad Industrial de Santander and World Wildlife Fund. • Final report is written and sent to Cleveland Metroparks Zoo. 4.1. ENVIRONMENTAL EDUCATION ACTIVITIES Prior to this proposal, SBP’s environmental education program was concentrated mainly at rural populations in, or adjacent to the Sierra Nevada national park. In this new phase, we attend the urban population from Mérida and Lara States. Our partner in this expansion was the Barquisimeto Zoo, who were interested to promote the Bear Conservation throughout the northern region of the Venezuelan Andes. SBP provided the necessary materials (teacher’s manual, pamphlets and posters), as well as to serve as advisors throughout the process. Over the course of three months we regularly visited the selected schools within the Mérida, Ejido and Tabay cities. Our purpose was to introduce the teacher’s manual developed for the “The Andean Bear Comes to School” program during 1998. The pilot stage of this program was developed during 1998 in the rural areas from the Santo Domingo river basin, located in the southwestern portion of the Sierra Nevada National Park in the states of Mérida and Barinas (Torres 1998). The accumulated experience for “The Andean Bear comes to school” program was the basis for the second workshop. Participants received enough information, simulating the activities that would be carried out in a school over the course of a regular term. Examples from past participating schools served to illustrate the process. An integral component of the expansion of SBP’s activities to the urban school was the constant exchanges with the local mass media. Several contacts with reporters, newspapers, radio and television stations already exist. During this stage of the program, we visited the schools once a week, beginning on May. Initially, these visits were supported by videos, color slides, posters and pamphlets, developed or acquired by AndígenA. For this second stage of the program, however, we developed our own printed materials (Education game Sheets and Slides). These were adapted to the needs of the area, as identified by the workshop, and proved to be very useful. One extremely successful item was a poster designed last year. 7 Final Report: Andean Bear Project – Venezuela. October 1999. We used the same pamphlets on the Andean Bear and its environment designed by Ediciones Neotrópico in Caracas due its utility, such that they could be used by a wide audience including children as well as adults, and people in urban as well as in rural populations. We distributed a total of 2,000 posters and 3,000 pamphlets during this stage. Training Workshops: A workshop on Andean Bear biology and conservation was organized and directed to urban teachers from schools located within the Mérida City. The workshop was carried out on May 7, 1999, with the participation of 10 school teachers and the AndígenA’s team of instructors (Table 1). Denis Torres (program coordinator) did a presentation with color slides and videos that outlined Andean Bear biology and its importance for the conservation of the cloud forests. Immediately after the presentation, workshop participants engaged in a general discussion about nature conservation. Finally, the teacher’s manual was presented and its content discussed among the workshop participants. The workshop was very productive and the participants generated interesting discussions. A large proportion of the assistants expressed interest in testing the entire program during the following months. For many, this sort of activities is very different to what they are used to, or they are a challenge to insert into their already developed teaching programs. However, five schools agreed to develop the program in full. The results of the workshop helped us identify basic topics that need to be emphasized on any printed material to be produced for the program. Among the most important ones are: 1) general information about Andean Bears and their status in Venezuela, and 2) human attitude changes that would reduce the likelihood of extinction of bears in Venezuela. Table 1. Workshop participants. Escuela Básica Nacional “Juan Ruiz Fajardo”, Mérida, Mérida State. May 7, 1999. NAME INSTITUTION Elva Segovia • Unidad Educativa “Nuestra Señora del Rosario”. Nelly de Gavidia • Unidad Educativa “Nuestra Señora del Rosario”. Briceida Ruiz • Colegio San Juan Bosco. • Escuela Básica Nacional “Juan Ruiz Fajardo”. María Bastidas • Escuela Básica Nacional “Juan Ruiz Fajardo”. Coromoto de Quintero • Escuela Básica Nacional “Juan Ruiz Fajardo”. Megdys Ruiz • Escuela Básica Nacional “Juan Ruiz Fajardo”. Nardys de Rivero • Escuela Básica Nacional “Juan Ruiz Fajardo”. • CEAPULA. 8 Final Report: Andean Bear Project – Venezuela. October 1999. Judith Sánchez de Trejo • Escuela Básica “Estado Apure”, Tabay. Zorayda Marquina de Rodríguez • Colegio “San Pío X”, Ejido. María Gabriela Moreno • Preescolar “Estado Apure”, Tabay. Omar Torres • Fundación AndígenA. Yadira Sánchez • Fundación AndígenA. Rikke Mangunssen • Fundación AndígenA. Denis Alexander Torres • Fundación AndígenA. Mario Zambrano • Fundación AndígenA. Working in the Schools: We visited weekly the five schools that agreed to carry out the entire program. Jointly with school teachers, the team of environmental education instructors initiated the coverage of the first chapters of the teacher’s manual. Each chapter required approximately fifty days. Although the manual focuses on Andean Bears, the instructors took every possible opportunity to speak about other Andean species and habitats, as for example condors, Andean cock-of-the rock, northern helmeted curassow, etc. Among the many activities performed by children we can quote that they wrote stories, created bulletin boards, drawings, and made masks that resemble Andean Bear faces (Annex). The constant presence of AndígenA’s team and the Foundation Bioandina’s Coordinator for Environmental Education, was perceived as an encouraging sign: city-folk had stopped by, not only to say what should be done about nature conservation (the usual approach), but had actually become involved in the process. In several opportunities we combined a presentation on Andean Bears with information on condor conservation, as this is the species Fundación Bioandina is currently working on. The demand for such presentations surpassed our capacity to deliver them, mostly because of the logistical difficulties related to depending on public transportation and funds. However, the educational program was successful, and by July the entire content of the teacher’s manual had been completed by the five schools. 4.2. TRAVELING EXHIBIT Reviving International Cooperation: In 1989, the Jersey Wildlife Preservation Trust carried out the first project that explicitly integrated efforts for Andean bear conservation across all Andean countries. At the center of this project was a full-color poster aimed at building awareness among Andean people on the need to protect their native bear species. Although the poster was successfully distributed throughout the region, its message was too generic and inadequately adapted to the local people’s perception of bears. The poster did have an important impact, however, because it used a photograph, and not an illustration. For most Andean people, this was the first time they saw what an Andean Bear really looked like. Until then, they had only heard of bears through local myths and legends (e.g. see Herrera et al. 1994) or, at best, seen an artist’s interpretation of the bear’s appearance. Unfortunately, the picture captured all the attention, and people often cut out the text when displaying the poster. Eight thousand posters were distributed as the last recorded activity of the SBSG (Weinhardt 1990). For Venezuela-SBP an integral component of educational campaigns is their evaluation, and the use of this information to plan subsequent stages. During the SBP’s more than ten years of activities, we have produced and distributed three different poster designs. In 1987, the Andean Bear was practically unknown to Venezuelans. Thus, SBP’s first poster was limited to introducing it to the public as a native endangered species. The success of this campaign surpassed all our expectations. With time, the bear has become an authentic symbol for the conservation of Andean 9 Final Report: Andean Bear Project – Venezuela. October 1999. forests, to the extent that the governor of Mérida declared it “Emblematic Mammal of the State” on 5 June, 1997 (Dávila-Barrios 1998). The next stage of SBP’s work focused on ethnozoological research. We were interested in understanding the details of human-bear conflicts in order to design conservation strategies adapted to varying socio-economic contexts in different locations (Herrera et al. 1992, 1994). This stage led to the establishment of important links with human communities located within the bear’s range, including contacts with several known poachers. Field studies also produced new ecological data on habitat use, diet, and their seasonal variations (Torres & Ascanio 1993, Torres et al. 1995). SBP’s field experience has led us to believe that national parks play a key role for Andean Bear conservation in Venezuela. Despite the fact that illegal hunting inside Andean parks is widespread, most remnant wilderness areas of the region are protected (Yerena 1995, 1999; Yerena & Torres 1994). The second of SBP’s posters was produced in 1997 with the purpose of drawing attention to the fact that protecting the Andean Bear and conserving national parks were two sides of the same coin. In 1998, we launched a new phase in the SBP’s work aimed exclusively at environmental education in rural towns, with emphasis on the state of Mérida. A pilot educational program “The Andean Bear comes to school” provided the opportunity for a third poster with information on the biology and conservation of Andean Bears. For the first time, we used an excellent photograph of a bear in the wild (generously provided by the WSPA), and directly addressed the problem of illegal bear hunting, as this is the main cause of continuing population declines in the Venezuelan Andes (Torres et al. 1995). Of all the printed materials SBP has produced, posters have been the most successful. On the one hand, they are usually exhibited in public places (schools, cultural centers, libraries, zoos, national park visitor centers, etc.) and thus reach a large audience. On the other hand, people are less likely to discard posters than leaflets or pamphlets, giving them a longer life transmitting of the conservation message. We proposed to use the production and distribution of a high-quality poster as the first activity of a new international program for cooperation on behalf of Andean Bears. We believed that this first action would capture the attention of the general public throughout the Andes, at the same time that it provides an opportunity for prior SBSG members and other interested organizations to undertake a concrete short-term project. However, after a long period of discussion and cost evaluation, we decided to change the proposal. Unfortunately, it was a very expensive plan for the funds raised. In this way, the new effort would be focused on a "Traveling" or "Itinerant Exhibit on the Andean Bear". Making contact: Based in Venezuela, biologist Edgard Yerena has taken active steps toward reestablishing the network of collaborators previously served by the SBSG. He calls it Red Oso Andino (Andean Bear Network) and later Red Tremarctos with support from Andrés Eloy Bracho. This is an Internet-based information exchange system with an official Web Site (http://tremarctos.cjb.net) and a Discussion Forum. The majority of researchers at Latin American universities and NGOs are frequent users of e- mail and habitually access the WWW, reducing the cost and expediting the speed of information flow. Through this way, we already established links with a series of people and organizations that are willing to serve as partners in the design and promotion of the Traveling Exhibit in each of the Andean countries: 1) Colombia: Sergio Sandoval, John Poveda, Claudia Rodríguez, Pedro Moreno and Jeffrey Jorgenson from the Universidad Javeriana, Ministerio del Medio Ambiente and Reserva Natural La Planada; 10 Final Report: Andean Bear Project – Venezuela. October 1999. 2) Ecuador: Armando Castellanos, from Fundación Zoobreviven. 3) Peru: Marcelo Stucchi and Judith Figueroa from Instituto Nacional de Recursos Naturales; 4) Bolivia: biologists Boris Ríos and Oscar Rendón. Traveling Exhibit Production and Distribution: During the production of the poster we distributed a questionnaire, through Red Tremarctos, among partners and other organizations in the different countries. The poster should be universal in its content, while taking into account variations in local names, public perception towards bears, principal threats, and their role in the traditional Andean cultures. During the process, some of the partner organizations suggested interesting ideas about the content. All this information was very useful for the production of the new project: The Traveling Exhibit. AndígenA’s office in Mérida organized the information gathered (maps, pictures, biological data, etc.) for its use in the Exhibit design. The Exhibit was developed with support of a team of graphical designers, journalists, psychologists, school teachers, and biologists. Ten "Big Posters" or "Panels" (1.80 x 0.90 m) were designed for the exhibit. Every panel has specific information on a topic of the bear life and its relationship with the Andean people. The final product was: • 1 Introduction Panel on "Bears of the World". • 1 Panel on "Evolution of the Subfamily Tremarctinae". This panel was developed with the assistant of Marcelo Stucchi from Peru, and Manuel Soibelzon, from La Plata Museum, Dept. of Paleontology, Argentina. • 1 Panel on "Spectacled Bear Biology". • 1 Panel on "The Spectacled Bear and the Cloud Forest". • 1 Panel on "The Spectacled Bear and the Páramo". • 1 Panel on "Spectacled Bear in Andean Culture". • 1 Panel on "Myths and Realities on the Spectacled Bear" • 1 Panel on "Bear Research in South America". • 2 Panels on "Spectacled Bear Conservation". Every partner organization will receive a copy of the exhibit in digital format for its printing. Unfortunately, the exhibit production was very expensive and no funds were available for sending a printed copy to every country. However, the partner organizations accepted this condition as part of the cooperation. We requested to keep a detailed record of their activities while presenting exhibit, and invited to use them in the context of larger conservation programs they may be currently developing. Special emphasis will be given to the exhibit presentation as part of environmental education programs in rural areas. The success of the program will be quantified by focusing on indicators, such as: 1) number of times Andean Bear conservation is covered by the mass media, 2) number of places were the exhibit is exhibited in public places during a period of 6 months. Monitoring of these indicators began with the exhibit inauguration, held in October during the "I Congreso Nor-Andino de Derecho Ambiental, Políticas e Instituciones, organized by World Wildlife Fund in the Universidad Simón Bolívar from Caracas. 11 Final Report: Andean Bear Project – Venezuela. October 1999. Brief reports from all partners will be incorporated into the general report to funding organizations. As the project consolidates, this will open the door for future joint activities in the Bear Range in South America. Strengthening Local Action: In addition to the actions mentioned above, activities in Venezuela were focused on two areas: 1) expansion of the environmental education program, and 2) strengthening the links between governmental agencies and the non-governmental sector, particularly with respect to environmental law enforcement. In both cases, the main strategy was intensive cooperation for providing basic information and tools to potential multipliers. Partners Institution in the Itinerant Exhibit Project: VENEZUELA: • Fundación AndígenA (national and international coordination). • Fondo Mundial para la Vida Silvestre (WWF). COLOMBIA: • Fundación para la Educación Superior (FES), Reserva Natural La Planada. • Pontificia Universidad Javeriana, Santafé de Bogotá. • Ministerio del Medio Ambiente (national coordination). ECUADOR: • Fundación ZOOBREVIVEN (national coordination). PERU: • Instituto Nacional de Recursos Naturales (national coordination). BOLIVIA: • Asociación Conservación y Medio Ambiente (CYMA) (national coordination). • Ministerio de Desarrollo Sostenible y Planificación, Dirección General de Biodiversidad, Unidad de Vida Silvestre. SPAIN: • Fondo para la Protección de los Animales Salvajes (FAPAS) (national coordination). USA: • Cleveland Metroparks Zoo (national coordination). Staff of the Andean Bear Project: • Denis Alexander Torres, General Coordinator. • Blanca Méndez, Geography student, University of the Andes. • Rolando Vera, Geography student, University of the Andes. • Omar Torres, High School Graduated. • Yadira Sánchez, University Student. 12 Final Report: Andean Bear Project – Venezuela. October 1999. Collaborators: • Environmental Group "Dinira", local volunteers (veterinary students) at the Barquisimeto Zoo, Lara State. • Juan Manuel Romero, Fundación Bioandina. • Jaime Bautista, Publicist and wildlife photographer. Foreign Collaborator: • Rikke Mangunssen (Denmark) Academic and Technical Supervision: • Edgard Yerena, M.Sc., Biologist, specialist in Andean Bear conservation. • Jon Paul Rodríguez, M. A., Biologist, Ph.D. candidate at Princeton University, USA. Specialist in threatened species conservation. • Jaime Bautista, Publicist and wildlife photographer. • Carlos Saavedra, Graphical designer. • Tomás Uzcátegui, Graphical designer. • Manuel Pernalete, Veterinarian, Barquisimeto Zoo, Venezuela. Key Figures: • Number of schools participating in full program: 5 • Number of schools where presentations were made: 19 • Number of participating children: near 1,500 • Number of research projects associated to the program: 5 5. ANDEAN BEAR PROJECT @ INTERNET We created a Web Site for the Andean Bear Project and Fundación AndígenA. One of the main components of this page is the link to information about the “The Andean Bear Comes to School” program. The purpose of this Web Site is to provide information about the Andean Bear and the joint projects of AndígenA and the Cleveland Metroparks Zoo. Likewise, it seeks to promote the integration of those working on behalf of Andean Bears in Venezuela and abroad. The Web Site is located at: http://www.andigena.cjb.net On the other hand, AndígenA has supported the creation of two Web Sites on Andean Bears developed in Venezuela: Red Tremarctos' Web Site (http://tremarctos.cjb.net) and The Spectacled Bear in Venezuela (www.spectacledbear.org) developed in partnership with the biologist Isaac Goldstein. We also distributed the electronic bulletin on Andean Bear Conservation, named "UkukU" (http://ukuku.cjb.net). This publication is developed in joint with the Colombian bear researcher, Sergio Sandoval. 6. INTER-INSTITUTIONAL RELATIONSHIPS During 1999 AndígenA has maintained inter-institutional links with numerous national and international organizations. 13 Final Report: Andean Bear Project – Venezuela. October 1999. Our links with International Organizations has grown and become richer everyday. They have provided logistical support for most of our field activities, and we have gradually become involved in the development of joint initiatives. Further strengthening of this collaboration is one of our main priorities for the future. Among the numerous organizations we have collaborated with or received collaboration from during the last eight months, we can count: International Level: • International Association for Bear Research and Management, U.S.A. • IUCN/SSC Bear Specialist Group, U.S.A. • World Society for the Protection of Animals – WSPA (LIBEARTY Campaign), UK. • Fondo para la Protección de los Animales Salvajes, Spain. • Lincoln Park Zoological Gardens, U.S.A. • Birdlife International (Pan American office), Ecuador. • Zoológico de Buenos Aires, Argentina. • Asociación Estudiantil de Ecología (ECOLIMA), Universidad de Lima, Peru. • IUCN/SSC Tapir Specialist Group, U.S.A. • Pontificia Universidad Javeriana, Santafé de Bogotá, Colombia • Cleveland Metroparks Zoo, U.S.A. • Andean Tapir Fund, U.S.A. - Ecuador. • Fundación Zoobreviven, Ecuador. • Fundación para la Educación Superior (FES), Reserva Natural La Planada, Colombia. • Ministerio del Medio Ambiente, Colombia. • Bear Watch, Canada. • World Wildlife Fund (WWF). • Instituto Nacional de Recursos Naturales, Peru. • Asociación Conservación y Medio Ambiente (CYMA). • Ministerio de Desarrollo Sostenible y Planificación, Dirección General de Biodiversidad, Unidad de Vida Silvestre, Bolivia • TRAFFIC Latin America, Ecuador. • National Geographic Television, USA. • London BBC, England. National Level: • Facultad de Ciencias Forestales y Ambientales, Universidad de Los Andes. • Fundación Bioandina, Mérida. • Gobernación del Estado Mérida. • Sociedad Ambiental Araguaney, Mérida. • Parque Zoológico Chorros de Milla, Mérida. • Parque Zoológico “Bararida”, Barquisimeto, Lara. • Parque Zoológico “Gustavo Rivera”, Punta Cardón, Falcón. • Instituto Nacional de Parques (INPARQUES), Caracas. • Sociedad Conservacionista Audubon de Venezuela, Caracas. • Silabaria Producción Editorial, Caracas. • Novo Publicidad, Mérida. • Optivisión Canal 51, Mérida. • Diario Frontera, Mérida. 14 Final Report: Andean Bear Project – Venezuela. October 1999. 7. MASS MEDIA CAMPAIGN During 1999 AndígenA’s Andean Bear Project was object of several articles in the national and regional press. One of the most interesting reports appeared in the Magazine RETO on the number 47 March/June, 1999. Seven full color pages, entitled "S.O.S: Oso en Peligro" summarized in rich detail the history and main achievements of the Andean Bear Status in Venezuela and the work developed by Denis Torres, general coordinator of the Andean Bear Project and President of AndígenA. Finally, we responded to invitations to participate in regional and national radio programs. 8. DISCUSSION Though some of our original objectives remain to be achieved, bear conservation in South America has advanced greatly; specially highlighted with the international cooperation between the Andean nations. A large and persistent problem has been our limited success in raising all the necessary funds to implement each project’s goals. The Andean Bear is still endangered at a national level (Rodríguez & Rojas-Suárez 1999) but due to AndígenA’s sustained work, many individuals and institutions are actively involved in assuring the persistence and expansion of its wild populations. Additionally, the environmental education program developed by AndígenA and Cleveland Metroparks Zoo received positive reviews from teachers involved in the pilot test of the teacher’s manual and people from environmental organizations in Colombia and Ecuador. In this context, we began discussing the possibility of including part of the content of our teacher’s manual into the state’s official program. Schools are expected to begin offering these new courses in the upcoming millennium. Among the many satisfactions of working on behalf of Bears in the Andean region is the increasing interest of local authorities, as well as the general public, schools and the private sector. During the last stage of the environmental education program, we were invited to develop a collaborative program with the Bararida Zoo and Gustavo Rivera Zoo, both Venezuelan institutions with captive breeding program for the Andean Bear. Bararida Zoo is concerned by the degree of threat to wild bears in Lara, where small remnant populations remain at the species’ distribution edge in Venezuela. We are considering the expansion of the environmental education program to schools in towns adjacent to Yacambú, Dinira and Terepaima national parks, the last local refuges for Andean Bears. In this way, a member of the AndígenA's board of directors, Rolando Vera, has begun a field research on bear distribution in the Terepaima National Park as part of his thesis at the University of the Andes. Main problems encountered during the development of the environmental education program: • Logistical difficulties for the field work. Our extension work in the rural areas (for the environmental education activities and field research) is limited due to logistical limitations. One of the main future priorities of the project is the acquisition of a vehicle and field equipment: photographic cameras, GPS, tents, sleeping bags, etc. • Socio-Political Instability. 1999 was a difficult year for developing any action with governmental organizations. The change of president and directors from almost all the national agencies was a reason to change some of our original objectives. It was very difficult to organize the workshops on environmental law application proposed for the national guards 15 Final Report: Andean Bear Project – Venezuela. October 1999. and the National park Institute personnel. However, due to the expensiveness of the program during this stage, the money raised was used for the traveling exhibit production. 9. RECOMMENDATIONS Two topics stand out as necessary short-term guidelines for Andean Bear conservation in Venezuela: 1) strengthening of environmental education activities and the bear research through the establishment of a conservation fund; and 2) strengthening the capacity to control illegal bear hunting through a training program for national guards, park guards, and wildlife service personnel. Although these are the most urgent activities, ongoing field research must not be abandoned, rather it should be expanded. • Environmental Education: the main target for environmental education should be schools in rural and urban areas within the range of the Andean Bear, with emphasis on those located near protected areas. Based on AndígenA’s accumulated knowledge on human-bear interactions, such activities should be designed in accordance with local people’s perceptions and misconceptions of bears. In the case of urban schools, it is important to develop innovative tools, such as documentaries and interactive CD-ROM software packages for wide distribution. • Law Enforcement: illegal hunting is the main short-term threat to Andean bear populations in Venezuela. The species is protected by law through two specific decrees (No. 1485 and 1486), and most of its remnant populations are in national parks, where hunting is not allowed (Rodríguez & Rojas-Suárez 1995). Governmental bodies responsible for environmental law enforcement must do so more effectively than has been possible in the past. Among the activities that could be promoted to this end are: a) creation of state-funded environmental brigades that patrol protected areas in the region; b) preparation of a formal workshop series on environmental legislation and legal procedures to deal with wildlife law offenders, targeted at the personnel of the National Parks Institute, the National Guard, and the regional offices of the Ministry of the Environment; c) development of a public pressure campaign to urge the Ministry of the Environment to strictly enforce environmental protection laws in the Andean region, as it is not only bears that are threatened, but also many other species, such as parrots, parakeets, wild cats (pumas, ocelots and jaguars), and condors. • Research: there are still many aspects of the Andean Bear natural history that remain unknown and would be valuable to improve management actions. The establishment of an active field research group that combines expertise from different universities, non-governmental organizations, and governmental agencies is a priority. Patterns of habitat use, size of home range, and population sizes are still unknown. Baseline field data is crucial for population monitoring, the assessment of trends in population size, and the estimation of extinction risk. Field research projects are currently being developed in Bolivia, Colombia, Ecuador and Venezuela. These could serve as models for field-based regional training workshops for students and researchers interested in pursuing Andean Bear research in the future. 10. DISTINCTIVE FEATURES OF THE PROJECT This proposal covered a relatively short period of time within a long-term conservation project. Over more than a decade members of AndígenA, have accumulated a large amount of experience on Andean Bear conservation and, year after year design a set of short-term activities that address what we perceive to be the problems at the time. These activities are carried out against the background of a permanent public awareness campaign on behalf of the conservation of Andean habitats, using the Andean Bear as a flagship species. Among the program’s unique features are: • Uninterrupted conservation, research, and education projects throughout the Andean region. 16 Final Report: Andean Bear Project – Venezuela. October 1999. • Stable and productive interinstitutional links between governmental and non-governmental organizations in Venezuela and South America. • Emphasis on strengthening the role of local people in the active management of conservation programs, with the ultimate purpose of achieving self-sufficiency. • Development of a standardized methodology that can be replicated by conservation initiatives in other Latin American countries. Future Directions: "Andean Bear Conservation Project: Fostering International Cooperation in a World of Rapid Change" marked a new stage in the work on Andean Bear conservation in South America. The methods and activities in this proposal served as a model for implementation throughout the species’ South American range. We expect the program to become more international, and focus on actions that can be replicated throughout the region, gradually including the following components: • A locally-driven Andean Bear Monitoring Program will be introduced in the Venezuelan Andes. Positions will be offered to people in the community to monitor bear sightings and report hunting events. • Bear specialists from the region will participate in joint field research and environmental education projects. • Other partners will be encouraged to join the collaborative effort (other NGOs, universities, etc.). • The existing educational program will be expanded to other schools throughout the Venezuelan Andes and more instructors will be trained. • Educational programs specific to the issues relevant in each region will be designed. • A new international cooperation program will be created in order to fill the gap left by the dissolution of the Andean Bear Specialist Group (SBSG). 11. REFERENCES CITED Cuesta, F. 1998. Informe de Avance (octubre 1997 - junio 1998). Proyecto Investigación y Educación Ambiental sobre el Oso de Anteojos en la Reserva Ecológica Cayambe-Coca, Componente de Educación Ambiental. EcoCiencia- INEFAN-WSPA. Unpublished Manuscript. Dávila-Barrios, W. 1998. Discurso del Gobernador. Pp 4-5, in: Símbolos Emblemáticos Ambientales del Estado Mérida. Comisionaduría para la Preservación del Ambiente del Gobierno del Estado Mérida, Venezuela. 11 pp. Herrera, A. M., J. Nassar, F. Michelangeli, J. P. Rodríguez & D. Torres. 1992. The Spectacled Bear in the Sierra Nevada National Park of Venezuela. Pp: 61-81, in: Weinhardt, D. (ed.) International Studbook for the Spectacled Bear 1991. Lincoln Park Zoological Gardens. Chicago, USA. Herrera, A. M., J. Nassar, F. Michelangeli, J. P. Rodríguez & D. Torres. 1994. The Spectacled Bear in the Sierra Nevada National Park of Venezuela. Int. Conf. Bear Res. and Manage., 9(1): 149-156. Jorgenson, J. 1989. The Spectacled Bear Specialist Group: past, present and future. Pp: 17-32. In: M. Rosenthal (ed). 1989. Proceedings of the First International Symposium On the Spectacled Bear. Lincoln Park Zoological Gardens, Chicago, USA. Rodríguez, J. P. & F. Rojas-Suárez. 1999. Libro Rojo de la Fauna Venezolana. 2da. edición. PROVITA, Fundación Polar. Caracas, Venezuela. 472 pp. Rumiz, D., Ch. Eulert & R. Arispe. 1997. Estado del Conocimiento y Prioridades de Conservación del Oso Andino (Tremarctos ornatus Cuvier) en Bolivia. Un taller organizado durante el III 17 Final Report: Andean Bear Project – Venezuela. October 1999. Congreso Internacional Sobre Manejo de Fauna Silvestre en La Amazonia. Santa Cruz de La Sierra, Bolivia. 7 de Diciembre de 1997. Unpublished Manuscript. SBSG. 1980. Newsletter Nº 1. Spectacled Bear Specialist Group (SBSG), Species Survival Commission, IUCN. SBSG. 1989. Newsletter Nº 13. (Spanish version) Spectacled Bear Specialist Group (SBSG), Species Survival Commission, IUCN. Suárez, L. 1985. Hábitos alimenticios y distribución estacional del oso de anteojos, Tremarctos ornatus, en el páramo suroriental del volcán Antisana, Ecuador. Tesis de Grado. Departamento de Biología, Pontificia Universidad Católica del Ecuador. 60 pp. Torres, D. 1998. Andean Bear Project: environmental education program. Final Report presented to Cleveland Metroparks Zoo and Silver Springs. Unpublished document. 26 pp. Torres, D. & R. Ascanio. 1993. Contribution to the Knowledge of Seasonal Use of Páramo El Tambor by Spectacled Bear (Tremarctos ornatus) and its Interaction with Human Beings in the Adjacent Zones, Mérida State, Venezuela. International Bear News, 2(4): 7. Torres, D., A. Lobo, R. Ascanio & G. Lobo. 1995. Monitoring the spectacled bear (Tremarctos ornatus) populations in the watershed of the Capaz river, Mérida State, Venezuela. Sociedad de Ciencias Naturales La Salle. Memoria, 55(143): 25-40. Weinhardt, D (ed.). 1990. International Studbook for the Spectacled Bear Tremarctos ornatus (F. Cuvier, 1825) 1989. Lincoln Park Zoological Gardens, Chicago, U.S.A. 80 pp. Yerena, E. 1995. Las Areas Protegidas para el Oso Andino en Sudamérica. Sociedad de Ciencias Naturales La Salle. Memoria, 55 (143): 15-23. Caracas, Venezuela. Yerena, E. (coordinator). 1999. Status and management of the spectacled bear in Venezuela. Pp: 193-198. In: Servheen, C., Herrero, S., & B. Peyton (compilers). Bears, Status Survey and Conservation Action Plan. IUCN/SSC Bear and Polar Bear Specialist Groups. IUCN, Gland, Switzerland and Cambridge, UK. 309 pp. Yerena, E. & D. Torres (1994) Spectacled bear conservation and dispersal corridors in Venezuela. Int. Conf. Bear Res. and Manage., 9(1): 169-172. 12. ACKNOWLEDGMENTS This most recent stage of AndígenA’s Andean Bear Project benefited from the collaboration and participation of numerous individuals and organizations, without which it would not have been possible. We are grateful to all. We must also mention certain people and the organizations they work with, which during this period have provided us with continuous support. Without the help of Dr. Hugh Quinn, Vicki Davison, Stan Searles and Tammie Bettinger from Cleveland Metroparks Zoo (U.S.A), and funding from this organization, as well as from World Wildlife Fund (Venezuela) and Fondo para la Protección de los Animales Salvajes (Spain), the project would not have been more than a dream. In Venezuela, we must reiterate our gratitude to Jaime Bautista and María Rosa Cuesta who have always provided support. Finally, we cannot end without thanking the teachers, children and people of Mérida. A new regional cause is gaining strength, giving us certainty that this cooperative effort that combines the concerns of individuals, private and public institutions of Venezuela and abroad will continue strengthening the conservation of the Andean Bear. Many thanks to all! 18 Final Report: Andean Bear Project – Venezuela. October 1999. ANNEX. ENVIRONMENTAL EDUCATION ACTIVITIES IN THE SCHOOLS. 19 Final Report: Andean Bear Project – Venezuela. October 1999.