Female olinguito, in SavingSpecies’ La Mesenia Reserve, Colombia. Photo by SavingSpecies/Gustavo Suarez.
Yesterday, we reported on the discovery of a new mammal carnivore species, the olinguito, whose range encompasses SavingSpecies’ La Mesenia Reserve conservation project. We fervently hoped that the new species did indeed live in La Mesenia, but could not be 100% sure… until today!
We have just received word that the olinguito has indeed been spotted and photographed in La Mesenia! Dr. Roland Kays, one of the species’ discovering scientists, confirmed the photos were of the olinguito. So, of course, we couldn’t wait to share the great news and the photos with you.
These photos were taken in a forest near one of the project cabins, where SavingSpecies’ conservation partners and scientists conduct their research and restoration work. The first picture is of the female olinguito. The second photo shows her cub. We believe this may be the first confirmed photo of an olinguito cub. The presence of the olinguito–not to mention the olinguito nest–emphasizes the importance of the site and our efforts to connect surrounding forest, protect existing habitat and to restore degraded land in the vicinity.
Dr. Stuart Pimm, President of SavingSpecies commented on the new find, “This is exactly the kind of species that our projects help protect — scarce, wide ranging predators are hit hardest when forests become fragmented. By reconnecting a large piece of forest that was almost pinched off, we knew we could make a huge difference. This find shows that we have.”
SavingSpecies raises funds to support in-country conservation groups that purchase and restore land for biodiversity. For nearly two years, SavingSpecies has partnered with Dr. Luis Mazariegos, a Colombian conservation biologist, to purchase and restore a strategic area of forest in the La Mesenia Reserve–land that will connect formerly fragmented cloud forests for wildlife. Our partnership is helping to protect hummingbirds, rare orchids, amphibians, and now, yes, even the newly-discovered olinguito!
Occurring in the fragile cloud forests of the Western Andes, the olinguito was “missed” by scientists for decades. The discovery in one of our own project sites comes off the heels of the discovery last year of nine new frog species in the same area! Clearly this is one of the world’s highest biodiversity areas–and who knows what scientists will find next–if the habitat is connected, protected and restored!
We are just tickled to know that, with your support, we have been helping to protect an animal that was unknown to science less than 48 hours ago—and have been helping to restore its habitat for years!
This is the kind of day we live for at SavingSpecies—and we could not be celebrating our contribution to the olinguito without you.