SavingSpecies: Colombian Hummingbirds and Orchids

Video of Dr. Stuart Pimm exploring the project area and discovering the Dracula orchid on a National Geographic Expedition
Finding a home for Dracula (3:58 min)


An unknown Dracula orchid, discovered in SavingSpecies project area. (Photo by Stuart Pimm. Click for a hi-res image).

Thanks to your help this year, we’ve now made a second payment to buy degraded land on a remarkable piece of land in Colombia, South America. We need only $21,000 more to complete the plan. Last year, we bought the land shown in green outline in the satellite image below.

The second payment we’ve just made is towards buying and restoring forest to the open areas to the east. These areas are in desperate need of restoration. Its steep mountain slopes are in an area that gets a lot of rain. Without forest cover, the hillsides wash away — sometimes catastrophically. We know from other places nearby that with protection the forest quickly recovers.

The SavingSpecies team visited this forest in July 2012. Even forest only six years old has lots of birds and orchids. And, yes, these forests are really home to Dracula — a very lovely orchid. (All these visits are paid for by our personal funds and research funds.)

Why is this forest so very important?

The nearby forest is home to 11 species of threatened birds — including two that are critically endangered, including the dusky starfrontlet, a hummingbird only recently discovered.

The dusky starfrontlet is one of hundreds of bird species in the Colombian rainforest. (Photo by Luis Mazariegos)

The forest is also home to an amazing variety of plant life, especially orchids, which, well yes, include species of the genus Dracula!

Restoring the forest to the degraded land will soak up a lot of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere — this is a warm, wet place where trees grow quickly.

By the same token, heavy rainfall on steep mountain slopes means these area erode quickly once they lose their forests.

By restoring these forests, we’ll help create a much larger protected area and, most importantly, connect the existing reserve to other forests to the east and west.

What can you do to help?

This land is quite cheap — about $170 per hectare, or $80 an acre. Please buy an acre! (Remember, 100 percent of the money you give SavingSpecies goes to land purchases.) Will you ask your friends and loved ones to buy an acre? If they say no, buy an acre for them! Buy two acres and you are “carbon neutral” for the next 20 years as the forest grows back.

All money goes to land purchase through a 501c3 US-registered charity so it’s all tax deductible.

We’ve now raised $45,000 to buy degraded land.   We need another $21,000 to complete the purchase of all available land.  If 150 people like you donate $80 dollars we can achieve our goal. Please consider donating $80 today. Of course, every penny counts, so any amount helps. Even if you can’t donate, please tell your family and friends. Click on the Share buttons below to tell your friends on Facebook and Twitter.

We at SavingSpecies want you to know exactly where all your money goes. The answer is right here (in green outline):
Colombia Green Satellite Map







Please DONATE to help preserve Colombian orchids. Your donation is fully tax-deductible and all funds go directly to the cost of the land purchase.

More information

Saving Species Colombia Proposal 2012 (324KB PDF)
Full proposal and acceptance letter (2MB PDF)
National Geographic article by Stuart Pimm: Finding a home for Dracula
National Geographic article by Stuart Pimm: Finding orchids in Colombia’s other rainforest