Summer brings snapshots of kinkajous, monkeys and students all enjoying Reserva Las Gralarias!

June 2019

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Exciting Sightings!

By Jane A. Lyons

Vice-president, Las Gralarias Foundation

What great new sightings we have had at Reserva Las Gralarias (RLG) recently! I cannot list them all here, but the best is a video made on 25 May by RLG worker Segundo Imba of a small group of our critically endangered monkeys foraging in the trees off the back patio of one of the guest houses. 

We have had four reports over the years of these fairly small, nondescript brown monkeys somewhere in our mid-elevation Santa Rosa property but never any confirmation photo. The species of monkey is the Ecuadorian White-fronted Capuchin, once widespread in our area but now considered Critically Endangered. The video taken recently also recorded some interesting single note barking calls of the monkeys.

In addition, we finally confirmed on several occasions in early June that both Plate-billed Mountain-Toucans and Crimson-rumped Toucanets are now (finally!) feeding at our banana feeders. Another great sighting was a Black-and-chestnut Eagle calling, recorded and observed over the course of two days around our guest houses – maybe looking for monkeys to eat? If you're interested in hearing a short sound file of these calls, it's on our website in the "Recent News" section, accessible here.

At left, Plate-billed Mountain-Toucan at RLG banana feeder;
at right, night-time raid on RLG hummingbird feeder by a kinkajou

More great sightings include two groups of Toucan Barbets feeding constantly at our feeders, a kinkajou feeding late at night from our hummingbird feeders, agoutis under our banana feeders, Wattled Guan calling along Sister’s Loop trail and glimpsed by birders, many juvenile birds arriving to our feeders at the end of nesting season, and a new Buff-tailed Coronet nest with nestlings in the exact same place as last year. 

Summer 2019 seems like it is going to be a busy time of year!

Polar Bears in Ecuador? Yes!

By Katherine Krynak, Secretary, Las Gralarias Foundation


This June, Reserva Las Gralarias (RLG) and Jane Lyons graciously hosted my Ohio Northern University Tropical Biodiversity Conservation class. This trip provided students—most of whom had never traveled outside of the United States—the opportunity to experience the amazing biodiversity of the Andean cloud forest as they carried out research projects they had been diligently designing for the past six months.

For ten days, students hiked day and night, sampled streams for endemic catfish, observed hummingbird behavior, were amazed by brazen Toucan Barbets and sneaky kinkajou, identified moths, and studied the behavior of Gem Anoles and Rain Frogs. With each sighting, their eyes opened wider as they began to realize how very special this place is. 

Tropical Biodiversity Conservation class from Ohio Northern University, home of the Polar Bears. Standing, second from left, is Assistant Professor Katherine Krynak, and next to her (center) is Tim Krynak, president, Las Gralarias Foundation

Early in the trip we took my students up the road and past the neighboring tree tomato plantation. They stared across the vast fields of dead tree tomato plants. We described to the students how the land had been rented for the agribusiness and “cleaned” by cutting down the cloud forest, how the soil was heavily sprayed with Round-Up and subsequently planted with a crop ill-fitted to the area.

The plantation isn’t even a successful business, and the cost of greed and shortsightedness was devastatingly apparent to the students.

We then traveled past the plantation to RLG’s newly acquired 100-acre property and students helped begin biological surveys of the land. While only 250 meters higher than the portion of the reserve where they had been staying, they witnessed how much elevation influenced the inhabitants of the forest, observing different species of insects, plants, even bats! This visit to RLG's new property showed my students the impact one more acre can have to the preservation of biodiversity.

Even after witnessing firsthand the destructive ability of our fellow humans at the tree tomato farm, I have renewed faith in humanity as well as renewed hope: my students and our LGF supporters CAN and ARE making a positive impact on this world. 

Thank you for supporting LGF’s mission to protect the precious biodiversity of this region and to inspire the next generation of conservationists.   

For more great photos of my students making the most out of their time in the cloud forest, visit Las Gralarias Foundation and Ohio Northern University Environmental and Field Biology Facebook pages. 

Shouts of Thanks!!!

By Mary Ann Beauchemin, Membership, Las Gralarias Foundation

We want to shout out a very big thank you to all of you who responded so quickly to our Buy-an-Acre campaign to raise $160,000 to purchase the 87-hectare (217.5 acres) property recently put up for sale. This acreage is a critical purchase. It adjoins the heart of Reserva Las Gralarias and includes part of the Santa Rosa River as well as two other important and unique creek systems.

In just under one month, our Buy-an-Acre campaign has reached $30,901.65, enough to fund just about 39 of the 217.5 acres (at $800/acre) needed to buy this critical property!!!  

We also have $21,000 currently pledged as donations by folks who have written us to let us know their donations are on the way. When these pledges are fulfilled, they will fund an additional 26 acres of the property, bringing the total to approximately $52,000 and 65 acres!  

This amount is approaching one-third of the money we need to buy this important land, raised in LESS THAN ONE MONTH! What an amazing start to our Buy-an-Acre campaign!!!

We still have a way to go, but this start to our campaign, in the beginning of summer when many folks are away, proves that our goal is both important and achievable! The recent and rapid growth of land being bought and developed for agribusiness in the Mindo area and in many parts of Ecuador increases our urgency. If you missed Jane’s article in the May Chirp! about why the acreage is such a critical purchase, please check out the details by linking here. 

I can't help but include photos we've showed before. Every time I see them, I'm struck by just how much can be accomplished! Yes, it takes plenty of hard work. And beautiful cloud forest rain, many birds (and some mammals) to disperse millions of seeds, and wonderful volunteers to support all our efforts. But as the photos show, reforestation can be done!

This photo comparison provides ample evidence that we know how to regenerate a cow pasture into a healthy, vibrant cloud forest!

If you have not yet donated, can you help us prevent this property from being purchased by agribusiness, restore the current cow pasture to native cloud forest, and protect the Santa Rosa watershed along with the plants and animals that rely on the clean water it brings to the reserve?

Some folks have donated money for one acre, some for several acres; others have joined in with friends to collectively buy an acre or just donated what they could for part of an acre. Remember that donations to LGF are tax-deductible in the USA. Also note that 100% of all donations to Las Gralarias Foundation go to the purchase of this land as board members volunteer their time and cover all overhead costs.

Of course, if anyone wants to donate more than $800, that is fine too! We would also love to have everyone find two more people who might be interested in our project, or in nature conservation in general, to add to our mailing list or share this info on Facebook!  

Once more, a Special Thanks to all who have already donated for your generous and prompt support in the first month of this critical effort to protect Reserva Las Gralarias, the Santa Rosa watershed and all the amazing cloud forest plants and animals dependent on it. 

LGF logo

The Las Gralarias Foundation welcomes ALL contributions and 100% of your donation will be used to support the ongoing work at Reserva Las Gralarias. To contribute by check or via PayPal or to donate stock, visit our donate page
Credits:  Plate-billed Mountain-Toucan and kinkajou courtesy of Gunnar Stall; Black-and-chestnut Eagle, Northern Ohio University class, and RLG past and present courtesy of Jane A. Lyons; Fawn-breasted Brilliant Hummingbird courtesy of Greg Lambeth; Chirp! design by Francie Bolter.