Unusual Wildlife – NGOs at Work

Part 1

NGOs in Colombia provide numerous benefits to both wildlife and local communities. Firstly, they contribute to the conservation of Colombia’s rich biodiversity by conducting research, implementing conservation projects and advocating for the protection of endangered species and their habitats.

These organizations also play a crucial role in raising awareness about wildlife conservation issues and promoting sustainable practices among local communities.

Furthermore, NGOs often collaborate with government agencies, universities and other stakeholders to develop and implement effective conservation strategies. By working together, these organizations help to address threats such as habitat loss, poaching and human-wildlife conflict, ultimately contributing to the long-term survival of Colombia’s diverse flora and fauna.

Additionally, NGOs support ecotourism initiatives that generate income for local communities while promoting wildlife conservation and environmental education.

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Scientific name: Herpailurus yagouaroundi
Conservation status: stable

The jaguarundi is a species of wild cat native to the Americas. It can be found in most Central and South American countries, from Mexico to Argentina.

In Colombia, it can be observed on moors, in tropical forests and even on beaches, according to photo traps from the National Parks Service.

The jaguarundi is an elusive mammal and does not look like other species of felines that live in Colombia. It is a little larger than a domestic cat, does not have spots like ocelots or jaguars and the color of its fur varies between grey, brown, reddish and black, responding to the environment where it lives. It has a slender build with short legs and is medium-sized.

This wild cat is very elusive and alert and usually lives a solitary life, but can occasionally be found in pairs.

It has small rounded ears and is diurnal. For these reasons, it is confused with tairas, bush dogs, or cats. It feeds on birds, rodents and lizards among others.

The installation of the camera traps was achieved thanks to the Agro-forestry for Conservation Project, which is part of an international climate initiative, financed by the Ministry of the Environment of the German government, a project that seeks to reduce deforestation in the Colombian Amazon (Caquetá) through sustainable agro-forestry activity.


South American Tapir

Scientific name: Tapirus terrestris
Conservation status: Vulnerable

The South American tapir, also known as the Amazonian or maned tapir, is one of four species of tapir. Found in several areas of Colombia, it is native to South America and is the largest native terrestrial mammal in the Amazon. However, it remains as the smallest of the tapir species.

This tapir is a herbivore that uses its mobile nose to feed on buds, shoots, leaves and branches.
Tapirs average 2m/6.6’ in length but can range up to 2.5m/8.2’.  They are generally between 73 – 120cm/29 – 47” in height. 

Adult tapirs weigh between 150 – 400kgs/331 – 882lbs. The tapir is categorized as an endangered and vulnerable species and indeed is already extinct in El Salvador.

Estación Danta is an NGO undertaking preservation activities throughout Colombia. It is obtaining valuable data about tapirs that hopefully will lead to their preservation for future generations.


Hoffmann’s two-toed sloth

Scientific name: Choloepus hoffmanni
Conservation statusstable

Hoffmann’s two-toed sloth, also known as the northern two-toed sloth, is a species of sloth native to Central and South America. These animals, which are very unique, are famous for their slow movement. They are found in many parts of Colombia.

This sloth is solitary, arboreal and nocturnal, though it sleeps much of the time. It lives in rainforests and was named after the German naturalist Karl Hoffman, getting its name from the two toes at the end of each arm.

In Colombia, numbers are declining due to severe habitat degradation and fragmentation.
Captured wild sloths, especially young ones, are sold to tourists. This illegal trade is increasing and represents a cause of concern due to its impact on the wild population.

Humboldt Institute is an NGO working in Colombia to enhance the existence of many threatened species, including sloths.


Southern tamandua

Scientific name: Tamandua tetradactyl
Conservation status: stable

The southern tamandua, also known as the lesser anteater or the collared anteater, is a species of anteater native to much of South America. It inhabits different environments such as savannas and forests and lives a solitary life.

The South American anteater is an animal that has a tongue similar to that of a long worm, which is why it is classified in the sub-order vermi-lingua, which means worm tongue. The anteaters are predators specialized in eating insects, especially ants and termites.

Anteaters are distant cousins of sloths and armadillos and could easily become an endangered species, as habitat degradation continues, which is the main cause of displacement of the anteater from its natural habitat. 

Forced displacement affects their diet and as a result, their reproduction rates decrease.
As its name suggests, the tamandua feeds on ants but also bees and termites. To find food, it will break insect nests with its very strong foreclaws, which it also uses to defend itself.

Anteaters can swallow a total of 35,000 ants and/or termites per day. Their tongue flicks 150 times per minute and has thousands of tiny hooks and large amounts of saliva to eat ants or termites from trees and mounds.

The geographical distribution of anteaters in Colombia is extensive. However, despite their wide distribution, the best place to watch them is in the Eastern Plains of Casanare.

Ecotourism is a source of income to promote their study and conservation.

Volunteer World is a tremendous NGO that encourages people to help protect these fascinating animals from the threats they face in the wild.


Western mountain coati

Scientific name: Nasuella olivacea
Conservation status: threatened

The western mountain coati, also known as the western dwarf coati, is a small species of coati native to the cloud forests and páramo of Colombia, Venezuela and Ecuador.

It can be found at altitudes of 1,300 – 4,250m /4,270 – 13,940’  and lives in a narrow strip that runs from Ecuador to Venezuela.

Very little is known about this species and as a consequence they are now in a precarious situation.

World Coati Day is held every year in December to recognize and create conservative awareness for all species of Coatimundi.

World Coati Day happens in the middle of the Coati breeding season; creating awareness during their most critical time of the year.

People are encouraged to share the beauty and facts about Coatis over social media using #worldcoatiday.


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