Unusual Wildlife – NGOs at Work

Part 2

Across Colombia’s diverse landscapes, a network of dedicated NGOs acts as a lifeline for wild animals. These organizations tackle a multitude of challenges:

  • Habitat protection: They establish and manage protected areas, restore degraded ecosystems and advocate for sustainable land-use practices to safeguard vital habitats.
  • Combating threats: From tackling illegal wildlife trade and poaching to mitigating human-wildlife conflict, NGOs work tirelessly to address the diverse threats animals face.
  • Research and monitoring: Through scientific studies and population monitoring, they gather crucial data to understand species needs and inform effective conservation strategies.
  • Community engagement: NGOs foster understanding and appreciation for wildlife among local communities, promoting responsible interactions and encouraging participation in conservation efforts.
  • Raising awareness: By educating the public and advocating for policy changes, they generate broader support for animal conservation and inspire collective action.

Through these multifaceted efforts, NGOs play a pivotal role in ensuring the survival of Colombia’s remarkable wildlife heritage for generations to come.

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Crab-eating raccoon

Scientific name: Procyon cancrivorus
Conservation status: not endangered

The crab-eating raccoon is a species of raccoon native to much of South America and It can usually be seen in jungle and marshy areas.

As its name suggests, this raccoon mainly eats crabs, but also crayfish, lobster and crustaceans. Like other raccoons, it is an omnivore and will feed on whatever it can find, from turtle eggs to fruits and small amphibians.

This raccoon is a captivating species native to the lush coastal environments of Colombia. Renowned for its distinctive preference for crabs, this raccoon species has earned its name due to its unique diet and exceptional hunting skills. Sporting a mix of dark and light bands on its fur, the Crab-eating Raccoon boasts adaptive paws and limbs designed for catching and consuming crabs with remarkable efficiency.

The normal habitat for the raccoon is coastal environments, including mangroves, estuaries and marshes, while it is also adaptable to urban settings.

Nocturnal in nature it exhibits tool use and problem-solving skills while hunting. An adept swimmer, it utilizes aquatic environments for hunting and navigation.

The raccoon contributes to ecosystem balance by controlling crab and insect populations, and interacting with other species in complex ecological webs.

Not currently classified as an endangered species, it does face threats from habitat loss and pollution, prompting conservation efforts.

Cabildo Verde is an NGO dedicated to the rescue, rehabilitation and release of captive wild animals with the hope of contributing to the health of Colombia’s wild animal populations and ecosystems.
They also provide confiscated wild animals (victims of the illegal wildlife trade) who have been exploited in the tourist or entertainment industry, sold as pets or trafficked, a safe home in an environment as close to nature as possible.


Collared peccary

Scientific name: Pecari tajacu
Conservation status: not presently endangered, but habitat shrinking.

The collared peccary, also known as the javelina or báquiro, is a species of even-toed mammals native to South America, usually found in tropical and subtropical areas.
It is a herbivore that feeds on fruits, roots, palm nuts, cactus and other similar vegetation. However, it does occasionally eat deceased birds, rodents and lizards if needs be.

Collared peccaries are diurnal creatures that live in groups of up to twenty. They frequently sleep at night in burrows, under the roots of trees. The peccaries mostly inhabit deserts and xeric shrublands, tropical grasslands and savannas.

SELVA is an NGO founded in Colombia in 2009, by a group who dedicate their lives to research and conservation in the neo-tropics. They generate knowledge about the bio-diversity of the neo-tropics and contribute to its conservation to achieve the balance between humans and nature.

In this way, they hope to inspire sustainable changes for the comprehensive protection of the natural heritage by promoting the development of new talents and collective learning.


Golden Poison Frog

Scientific name: Phyllobates terribilis
Conservation status: endangered

The golden poison frog, also known as the golden dart frog, is a species of poison dart frog endemic to the Pacific coast of Colombia.

The Golden Poison Dart Frog (La Rana Kokoi in Spanish), named after the ancestral people Eperara Siapidara, is a species of amphibian belonging to the Dendrobatidae family. 

It is one of the most famous Colombian animals and is the most poisonous vertebrate on the planet. Its entire body is covered with a toxin common to dart frogs. Like other dart frogs, it is poisonous but not venomous, meaning it does not voluntarily transfer the poison but uses it for self-defense.

La Rana Kokoi is relatively large, with adult individuals reaching about 5cms/2”.  Despite their name, not all Golden Poison Dart Frogs are golden; there are three different color morphs in the region. In their natural habitat, these frogs are diurnal and they tend to look for food mainly in the morning and early afternoon. It is a carnivorous animal, whose diet consists of insects, mainly ants, although they also catch crickets, caterpillars, flies, cockroaches and beetles, among other insects.

The Golden Poison Dart Frog is listed as an endangered species, according to the IUCN Red List, despite having a powerful defense system against predators. 

The survival of this amphibian is mainly threatened by human interference in its habitat due to hunting, capture and deforestation. Illegal wildlife trafficking in many places has caused enormous damage to populations leading to extinction.

World Land Trust is an international conservation charity that protects the world’s most biologically significant and threatened habitats.

Working through a network of partner organizations around the world, WLT funds the creation of reserves and provides permanent protection for habitats and wildlife.

Partnerships are developed with established and highly respected local organizations that engage support and commitment among the local community.


Crab-eating fox

Scientific name: Cerdocyon thous
Conservation status: Stable

Also known as the wood fox, or the maikong, the crab-eating fox is a medium-sized species of canid endemic to central South America. Outside of crabs, it will feed on insects, rodents and birds, and is an opportunistic omnivore. It plays an important role in controlling the populations of rodents and harmful insects.

The Crab Eating Fox is an amazing but small animal only about 25”/64cms in total body length (this measurement excludes the tail). This appendage measures about 11”/28 cm in length, with its weight reaching as much as 17 lbs/4.5kgs.

The creature has a mostly greyish-brown color, with some areas of red on the face and legs. Further, the throat and stomach often appear as a creamy white. In addition, the fur is relatively thick and short.
The ears are of a decidedly rounded shape, set comparatively widely apart and often appear tipped with black.

The fox generally resides in thickets on the open llanos (plains), preferring, when possible to live near riverbanks. Partly due to this tendency, the species draws its common name from its rather unique diet.
During the wet season, many will hunt for crabs on the floodplains. The species evolved as an opportunistic omnivore. However, it will also consume insects, eggs, fruit, lizards and even birds. Hunting usually is done in small packs.

The resourceful fox usually places its burrows near bushes or in areas of tall grass. This helps conceal it from its own predators. Most individuals will construct their own nest if necessary but prefer to utilize those left by other creatures.

The Canid Specialist Group is the world’s chief body of scientific and practical expertise on the status and conservation of all Canid species.

Their mission is to promote the long-term conservation of all wild Canidae species throughout their ranges.


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