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Spotted: The bear that inspired Paddington


The spectacled bear is extremely elusive and is considered ‘Vulnerable’ on the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) ‘Red List’. It is the only bear native to South America and was the inspiration for Michael Bond’s Paddington bear and a movie later this year featuring the voice of Colin Firth. Despite being the largest land carnivore on the continent, establishing accurate estimates of population numbers is a huge challenge.

Close up of a spectacled bearClose up of a spectacled bear. © Kevin Shafer/ WWF-UK

Also known as the Andean bear, it is found at various altitudes in the Andes and although it probably wouldn’t turn it’s nose up at a marmalade sandwich, its diet is predominantly vegetation based. Known for its adaptability, the Andean bear’s habitat is under threat as development grows in the region, which leads to fragmentation of habitats through the construction of roads and growing populations.

A spectacled bear in foliageA spectacled bear in foliage. © Kevin Shafer/ WWF-UK

WWF is working in Colombia to support the sustainable development of the Putumayo region. Part of the programme is funded by Sky Rainforest Rescue and some amazing footage of the Andean bear was captured by members of the local community in the Piedmont, who participate in the community monitoring initiative.

The collaborative support of the local communities is a key factor to the longevity of the programme and they are just one of the many organisations who are working together with us to protect this habitat and the species that take refuge there. Thanks to the community we are able to share the excitement of seeing the bears and I for one look forward to seeing what other surprises they find on their travels.

What do you think of spectacled bears? Leave us a comment on Karina’s blog.

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