Seeing The Future: A High Number Of Cubs Observed

November through March is spring and summer in Peru. This is the time of year when we see the most spectacled bear activity in the dry forest.  After spending a long winter on the high mountain ridges in the Leche river basin, bears descend to feed on calorie-rich sapote and overo tree fruits that are in season at lower elevation. Each year our field season coincides with this period.

In comparison to past field seasons, we recorded a high number of newborn cubs and older cubs leaving the care of their mothers. Seeing cubs survive to independence is an extremely positive sign that our conservation actions are working. Over the last decade cub survival rate was only 30-40% each year.

We recorded 5 new cubs. Cubs typically stay with their mothers for about 18 months learning the important skills they will need to survive on their own.

High mortality rates are due to deforestation and habitat fragmentation because many female bears are unable to access vital sapote fruit. Consequently, they are often unable to gain enough weight to continue lactating and feeding their cubs through the winter months.

Seeing 4 young bears who became independent from their mothers in the last year is very encouraging. The bears shown below have survived the hardest part of their lives, but they still have a tough road ahead.

This photo of Vicente was taken during direct observation by our field team.
Camera traps are our "eyes in the field" that document important bear activity. Photos like these help us identify new cubs and document their presence from year to year. This is how we estimate cub survival rate each year.

These cubs are the future of this vulnerable bear population. Seeing them inspires us to keep doing everything we possibly can to ensure they have a fighting chance to survive in the wild.

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