Project Ortalis ’96

Robert Pople

The principle aim of this bird conservation project - which was run by Ecuadorian, Argentine and British biologists - was to identify the forest remnants adjacent to Bosque Protector Cerro Blanco that contained populations of globally threatened and endemic bird species sufficient to justify their immediate protection and incorporation into the Bosque Protector. In Jul-Aug 1996, four sites within the BP Cerro Blanco and one adjacent private property were surveyed. The team conducted intensive surveys of the outlying areas, collecting baseline data required by Fundación Pro-Bosque to identify the next area for purchase. The project recorded 12 threatened or near-threatened bird species, including the poorly known Ochre-bellied Dove. A similar survey was carried out at the Reserva Ecologica Manglares-Churunte in Aug-Sep. (A second stage to the project, researching other unknown areas in Cordillera de la Costa and Machalilla National Park is currently being developed.). A report was published in March 1997 by CSB Conservation Publications.

Project update: 22/3/97. Project Ortalis ‘96 conducted surveys of the birds and large mammals of dry and humid forest in Guayas Province, western Ecuador, between July and September 1996 (the dry season). Three sites were surveyed, two of which were existing reserves, the third being a private property, biologically unknown prior to our visit. Fieldwork was carried out from sea-level to 680 m, and in a variety of habitats, including dry scrub, semi-deciduous, evergreen and very humid premontane forest. A total of 261 bird species were recorded, including nine globally threatened species and two near-threatened species. In addition, 25 large mammal species and seven genera of bats were recorded during fieldwork at the three sites. The presence of eight threatened bird species at the private property, Hacienda Gonzalz, led Ecuadorian partner NGO Fundación Pro-bosque to purchase the area for conservation, in association with the Cerro Blanco reserve which they manage.