The fight against illegal wildlife trade in Bolivia

The Andean bear, also known as the spectacled bear, is South America’s only bear species and one of the largest mammals in the region. Found across countries like Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, and Bolivia, these bears inhabit Andean landscapes, facing threats such as poaching and illegal wildlife trade, particularly in Bolivia.

Biologist Omar Rocha, from the Vesty Pakos Municipal Biopark, highlights the spectacled bear’s symbolic importance and the risks it faces due to poaching and trafficking. In Bolivia, these bears are distributed across regions like La Paz, Cochabamba, Santa Cruz, and Tarija, often finding refuge in protected areas like Cotapata and Madidi reserves.

Despite their critical ecological role, spectacled bears are sometimes targeted by rural communities for crop damage, although the impact is minimal. To address these issues, efforts are coordinated with organizations like the Forestry and Environmental Protection Police to rescue bears and place them in conservation centers.

Several bears, including Juqui, Luna, Cucho, Eddi, Balú, Rufina, and Ajayu, have been rescued from illegal trade and conflict situations and brought to the Vesty Pakos Biopark. Juqui, the youngest bear, was rescued from a private home in Cochabamba in 2020, where he was kept as a “pet.” After undergoing quarantine and rehabilitation, Juqui now shares a large space with other bears and receives attentive care from the park’s technical team.

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