Sunday, March 1, 2009

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The Spectacled Bear solo

By Andrés Sánchez

* Under the contest "The fair of Jucumaris", the main organizer, Eric Madrigal, seeing the importance of biology and knowledge of a threatened species commissioned me to write some asides on the biology of this bear. Thus I present a short summary of the basic knowledge of the bear, taken from several authors have carefully studied this species, including the same Bernie Peyton.


This amazing bear, scientifically named Tremarctos ornatus, is the only species of ursids (regarding the family Ursidae) that currently exists in South America, known by many names including the spectacled bear, spectacled bear, Andean bear, bear in South America, ucumari, spectacled, among others. Turn belongs to the subfamily Tremarctinae which descended from bears that crossed from Asia to North America around for more than two million years (Peyton 2000).

Conservation Status

One of the main problems facing the spectacled bear is the destruction and fragmentation of habitat due to logging and shifting cultivation with for timber. According to the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN ) is considered Vulnerable (VU) and is found in Appendix I of CITES , which means that this species is facing a high risk of extinction in the wild and trade of this is authorized only under exceptional circumstances, for example, for research (Goldstein et al. 2008).

Physical description They are bears

intermediate size compared to other species of bears, but they were larger mammals in South America. Have a weight ranging between 140 to 175kg and adult males have a size of 1.5 to 2.0m (Peyton 1998). The common name is because glasses yellow markings around the eyes and nostrils, but also appear in the chest, jaw and throat, the rest of his fur is usually black or dark brown. The forelegs are larger than hind paws with five toes and curved, with short tail, rounded ears and a short snout compared to other bears. They have a large molar teeth flat and jaw muscles that allows you to break down food, especially plants (Peyton 2000). Like the rest of the bears are plantigrade, this means that your feet are "flat" (walk across the floor supporting your feet on the surface) and provided an upright posture they use to look like to climb trees and rocks (Goldstein 2005).

habits are primarily diurnal but sometimes are active at night. The marks found on trees, leaning trees and broken branches show a significant arboreal activity, since it is used to build a rudimentary nest or feed on the trees, where they find much of their food (some fruits and bromeliads) (Peyton 1998 .) In wooded areas down trails that allow quick scrolling between remote areas and communication with other members of the same species by marking through scratches and smell (pheromones).


The spectacled bear's body is well adapted to an herbivorous diet, their food of preference are fruit trees (cherry, berry, cactus fruit, etc.). in which usually climb no matter how slim are the stems of these plants, for it has claws that allow you to embrace the trunks and branches to climb. It also feeds on fibrous plants, with its jaws specialized in the role of this food macerate (Peyton 1998), within these plants are the Puya sp. Bromeliads and spp. of which also water extracts, in particular has a great love for the former, for consumption goes through the boulders and climb the trees and once found between eating pointy leaves fleshy bases (Peyton 2000). So the Andean bear can consume a large variety of plant species, including different climatic zones, this allows you to not become dependent on a single factor, like predators stabilizes populations without reducing the density of a single species.

Habitat and distribution

Unlike his other relatives, the spectacled bear is different in the wide variety habitat that is able to explore. The preferred habitat of the spectacled bear are the rainforests, however, is resistant to other environments, as has been found in coastal areas of Panama and Peru, in arid desert with a rainfall of 25 mm (Peyton 2000). Although the spectacled bear has adaptations that allow it to be in a fairly wide area, no adjustments against human predation or against the destruction and fragmentation of their habitat and these are the main causes that put you in danger of extinction.

As mentioned this bear has the ability to cover large areas and this is how it can be found in the three mountain ranges of the Andes, from the Cordillera de Merida in Venezuela to the southern region of Bolivia, through mountain ranges of Colombia, Ecuador and Peru (Yerena 1998; Peyton 1998, Suarez 1998). May still be in the northeast of Argentina isolated individuals (Peyton 1998, Suarez 1998) and there are some reports of the presence of bears in the regions of Panama and Darien in Caledonia but more recent studies of these populations in the Darien and in northern Argentina, have not given conclusive evidence the presence of a bear (Goldstein et al. 2008).

Spectacled Bear Distribution, Tremarctos ornatus (InfoNatura 2007)

also can be found by a fairly wide latitudinal range from 250 to 4750 meters, and given its preference for moist forest (which are among the 500 to 1000 m) the highest densities of spectacled bears are in Colombia and northern Peru, as these have most of these forests to other South American countries, where they are subtropical forests are prevalent (Peyton 1998). Females with their young occupy areas with high resources and relative inaccessibility (Peyton 1998) which ensures the survival of offspring, natural enemies of these are mountain lions and bears often attack males pups found in its territory.

The future of the spectacled bear

Unfortunately, studies indicate that spectacled bear populations are declining and are likely to be reduced by more than 30% within a window of 30 years, which together with a loss of habitat at a rate of 2 to 4% per year makes the situation worse (Goldstein et al. 2008). Equally Despite the many protected areas were created in the last 20 years and will soon be added, the protection of these areas are only a fraction of the remaining habitat spectacled bear inhabits. Moreover, even within protected areas, bears are vulnerable to habitat destruction and poaching, because many areas are not well controlled (Goldstein et al. 2008). As mentioned the spectacled bear contemplated by the IUCN Red List and CITES, as protected by the laws of each country. However, there are problems in the laws by which the bears can be (and therefore often are) dead or removed from nature (Smith 1999, Yerena 1999, Goldstein et al. 2008). An uncertain future awaits even the spectacled bear populations if we do not address the problem in time, with the help of everyone we can assure a better future.


  • Peyton, B. 2000. Conservation in Latin America, the Andean bear. National Geographic, 6 (4)
  • Peyton, B. 1998. Spectacled bear conservation action plan. Pp 157-164 in Servheen, C., Smith, S., and Peyton, B. (Ed.). Bears Status Survey and Conservation Action Plan. IUCN / SSC Bear and Polar Bear Specialist Groups. IUCN, Gland, Switzerland and Cambridge, UK.
  • Orejuela, J. Jorgenson, J.P. 1998. Status and management of the spectacled bear in Colombia. Pp. 168-179 en Servheen, C., Herrero, S., and Peyton, B. (compilers). Bears Status Survey and Conservation Action Plan. IUCN/SSC Bear and Polar Bear Specialist Groups. IUCN, Gland, Switzerland and Cambridge, UK.
  • Ruiz-García, M. 2003. Molecular population genetic analysis of the spectacled bear (Tremarctos ornatus) in the northern Andean area. Hereditas 138: 81–93.
  • Rodríguez, E.D. Cuesta, F. Goldstein, I. Naranjo, L.G. Hernández O.L. (Editores). 2002. Ecorregional strategy for the conservation of the spectacled bear (Tremarctos ornatus) in the northen Andes. WWF Colombian Comunications
  • Yerena, E. 1998. Status and management of the spectacled bear in Venezuela. Pp. 182-193 en Servheen, C., Herrero, S., and Peyton, B. (compilers). Bears Status Survey and Conservation Action Plan. IUCN/SSC Bear and Polar Bear Specialist Groups. IUCN, Gland, Switzerland and Cambridge, UK.
  • Suarez, L. 1998. Status and management of the spectacled bear in Ecuador. Pp. en Servheen, C., Herrero, S., and Peyton, B. (compilers). Bears Status Survey and Conservation Action Plan. IUCN/SSC Bear and Polar Bear Specialist Groups. IUCN, Gland, Switzerland and Cambridge, UK.
  • InfoNatura: Animals and Ecosystems of Latin America. 2007. Version 5.0 . Arlington, Virginia (USA): NatureServe. < >
  • Goldstein, I., Velez-Liendo, X., Paisley, S. & Garshelis, D.L. 2008. Tremarctos ornatus. En: IUCN 2008. 2008 IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. < >
  • Tree of Life Web Project. 2008. Tremarctos ornatus . Spectacled Bear. Version 12 October 2008 (temporary). EN The Tree of Life Web Project,
* Estudiante Biology -


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