The Andean bear is the only bear species native to South America. They live in temperate and tropical regions in the Andean mountain ranges within Venezuela, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, Bolivia, and Argentina. There are historic records of them in Panama, but the species in no longer found there. Its altitude range varies from 200 to 4300 masl. Its habitat includes paramo grasslands, rainforests, cloud forests, and dry forests.

The Andean bear population is declining. The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) estimates between 2500 and 10,000 mature individuals. The largest populations are found in Colombia, Ecuador and Peru. The species is rapidly disappearing. Human population growth has led to habitat loss and encroachment from productive activities such as livestock and agriculture. Additionally, Andean bears are illegally hunted for trophy and to “protect” livestock and crops. They are vulnerable to climate disruption, as it could severely affect their habitat and food supply.

The Andean bear is listed as vulnerable by IUCN and in Appendix I of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES). Appendix, which highlights that its trade is prohibited. One of the main approaches for its conservation has been the establishment of the Protected Natural Areas. According to IUCN data, there is a record of 58 protected areas consistent with its distribution. However, there is a large part of the territory where it lives that still needs protection. There are several research and conservation programs led by governments, organizations, universities, and zoos working towards protecting this species.

Common name ANDEAN BEAR

Scientific name (Tremarctos ornatus)

Status IUCN Vulnerable

Population 2,500 - 10,000 individuals

Trend Declining

Threats Habitat loss and illegal hunting