By: Michael Tweddle
Lucky to share this natural instinct by enjoying and admiring wildlife. Life has led me to travel to such places that when I was a child taught me characters as Jacques Cousteau and TV documentaries such as the National Geographic, Transtel Cologne and BBC among others.
Happy today, after thirty years taking wildlife pictures all these made my knowledge and experience a way of life with its ups and downs. Always with that quest to travel, learn, experience, taste, smell, miss and share.
Sometimes even with extreme bad weather, hunger, sickness, bugs, danger, anxiety, deception, and disappointment, physical and mental pain. But over all Joy, life experiences that lead us to be the best way as possible and enjoy.
Recently a researcher friend I´ve work before with endangered monkeys told me about a weird color Andean spectacled bear (Tremarctos ornatus) photographed at a distance in the northern Andes range of Peru, at the Amazonas Region comprising part of the Tropical Andes Biodiversity Hotspot. So … perfect excuse to arrange my gear and follow the instinct. After a four-hour up-mountain hike with Lucas and Sixto my local guides and with a bit of heavy rain and mud, we arrive to this awesome magical Mountain View.
No long after and not far away, finally I met face to face with that personal search. Surprisingly it was not just one, they were five spectacled bears in the freedom of their home at the heights of a pristine and magical place near Corosha at the Andean mountains of Chachapoyas. Home of very friendly people and thanks to the tenacious work of Fanny Cornejo a Peruvian biologist have launched a great example at a global level.
Conserve their natural forests from deforestation protecting their basins and endemic endangered wildlife like the Yellow-tailed woolly monkey (Lagothrix flavicauda) included in the IUCN Red List of the 25 most endangered primates in the planet and the little known Andean night monkey (Aotus miconax), plus over 200 bird species in a community-owned Private Conservation Area, “Hierba Buena – Allpayacu”. Offering ecotourism as a community activity (www.corosha-peru.org)…excellent example!
Going back to the bears. I have been fortunate to be able to photograph and see grizzly bears in Alaska and Yellowstone, and live a while in the Appalachian Mountains on the edge of the Smoky Mountains of Tennessee surrounded by black bears … a wonder that I enjoyed and shared closely with my children and family. The spectacled bear of my homeland Peru was always a mystery, being difficult to find and even more to photograph in the wild. After years of searching I found myself in a single day with five of them.
Three of them close enough for several good pictures. One in particular with its own kind of golden spirit gave me that feeling that every wildlife photographer is craving. It’s that magical connection that put you eye to eye with the wild one and allows you to contemplate him in the limit that he himself gives you. My adrenaline speeds, the animal decides up to how close I can go and not a centimeter more. Both species measure their distance, one local and me as a visitor. Visual communication is everything while we study each other. There’s no price for this, a unique magical moment enjoys full!
One feels lucky enough to be in a pristine place of planet Earth and be able to share it. You are accepted by curiosity, just because no having any clue about you as a species. In many other places a gunpowder shot would end with the story by ego. That feeling of being accepted by a wild free animal at a short distance is pure magic … Life Experience I call it, and happy. Going on with the story.
This was not a common black spectacled bear. I was in front of a real unknown Andean Golden spectacled bear. Never ever heard about a kind of albino or leucism in this species. Might be a new report. My young child memories came back with the Paddington Bear story written by Michael Bond in the UK about this friendly bear from the Peruvian Andes Mountains. Maybe there was a report in the late 50s of an Andean Golden Spectacled Bear wearing an old hat that finally traveled to London … Thanks COROSHA, Fanny, Bernardo, Yunkawasi, Lucas, Sixto, Victor, Liz, Pancho, Maria, Adelaida, Carlos, Roxana and Diana.
To all wildlife enthusiasts, researchers, bear community lovers and colleagues. If theres any other report or info of this color variation in Spectacled bears in the wild or in any zoo, it would help and be very useful in the research of this species. Contact: me or www.corosha-peru.org.
All the thanks,
©Michael Tweddle / www.tweddlefoto.com