Second Annual Birdathon Encounters Even More Species!

From August 19 to 29, the Amazon Conservation Association (ACA) hosted its second annual Birdathon to raise awareness about Peru’s incredible bird diversity and to help protect their habitat in and around Manu National Park. Led by Craig Thompson of the Wisconsin Bird Conservation Initiative, the group of conservationist birders traveled from the highlands to the lowlands, keeping a tally of the number of bird species they identified along the way.

This year, the group observed a total of 422 bird species – an increase of more than 70 species over last year’s total! Thompson was happy to report that, “Everyone was blown away by the birds, awed by the rugged Andes, and both impressed with and appreciative of [ACA’s] ongoing efforts to ‘save the world’s greatest rainforest.’”

The goal is to support the conservation of southeastern Peru’s globally important forests and the birds that depend on them by seeking sponsors to make a donation in honor of the event, either per bird species identified or a flat donation in an amount of their choosing. All funds raised go to ACA to further its ongoing conservation activities in the same region visited by the birders. The enthusiastic group exceeded its fundraising goal by raising over $34,000 to support ACA’s work to protect critical bird habitat in this region!

If you are interested in participating in future Birdathons or pledging support, please visit, or email (Photo by Adrian Tejedor)

Million-Dollar Fund Established to Protect the Los Amigos Conservation Concession

   On June 4, 2012, Peru’s first trust fund for a conservation concession was officially created to protect and conserve the Los Amigos Conservation Concession (LACC) in the Madre de Dios region of the Peruvian Amazon. The International Conservation Fund of Canada (ICFC), established to support biodiversity conservation in the tropics, established the $1 million endowment so that the Amazon Conservation Association (ACA), and its partner Asociación para la Conservación de la Cuenca Amazónica (ACCA), are able to continue working to conserve and protect the region from unsustainable development, gold mining, hunting, and illegal timber harvesting.

A conservation concession is an area of publicly owned land that is entrusted to a private entity for management in order to enforce policies conducive to biodiversity protection. Established by the Ministry of Agriculture in 2001, the LACC was the world’s first conservation concession, the success of which has led other countries to copy its design. Encompassing 360,000 acres of Amazonian rainforest, the concession has one of the highest levels of biodiversity in the area, with over 4,932 species currently registered. LACC is also home to the world-class Los Amigos Biological Station (known in Spanish as CICRA), one of the most active research stations in the Amazon basin.

Supporters gathered to inaugurate the establishment of the LACC Trust Fund at the June 4 event held in Lima. Rosario Acero, general director of forestry and wildlife at Peru’s Ministry of Agriculture, spoke in appreciation of the fund, stating that “this is a great accomplishment for the Ministry of Agriculture to have a concession – in this case, Los Amigos – obtain a trust fund that provides a long-term horizon for the development of activities. This experience is a first for conservation concessions, and I believe it is a symbol of good things to come in the future.”

Environment Minister Manuel Pulgar Vidal, also in attendance, expressed further support by commenting that civil society and conservation organizations “can now have the confidence to continue their work and fulfill their responsibilities, as shown today by the transformation of the LACC into an extremely successful example of a privately-run conservation area.”

Anne Lambert, managing director of the ICFC, spoke of the important role the LACC plays in the research and conservation of the region, and about how institutional strengthening of conservation organizations is crucial for ensuring sustained environmental protection. The trust fund will provide the financial resources needed by ACA and ACCA to vigilantly and efficiently protect the LACC from illegal logging, mining, and other threats.

The fund’s establishment constitutes the first step in ACA’s commitment to the Clinton Global Initiative to provide long-term protection for the Los Amigos Conservation Concession through the creation of an endowment that is to eventually grow to $10 million. The interest generated by these funds is needed to finance the ongoing management and monitoring costs of the concession in perpetuity. (First photo by Frances Buerkens, others by Ronald Catpo)

Glass frog discovered in Peru at Wayqecha is the world’s 7,000th amphibian species!

 The Amazon Conservation Association (ACA) is pleased to announce that an ACA-funded research team discovered the 7,000th amphibian species in the world (according to AmphibiaWeb at UC-Berkeley).  There are currently 8,680 existing species of amphibians, and 0ver one-third are listed as globally threatened or extinct, making this find especially significant. Frogs are dying out worldwide due to habitat destruction, climate change, and – increasingly – the spread of chytrid, a parasitic fungus.

The team found the previously undescribed frog in Peru’s tropical Andes at ACA’s Wayqecha Cloud Forest Biological Station, located in the buffer zone of Manu National Park, a UNESCO-designated World Heritage Site and Biosphere Reserve. This unique region, where the eastern slopes of the tropical Andes meet the Amazonian lowlands, fosters an incredible variety of species, and is a center of global amphibian diversity.

Glass Frog

The new glass frog, described as Centrolene sabini, is particularly intriguing for researchers due to its high sensitivity to the chytrid fungus; at least two species in the area have already been lost and are considered extinct. Ongoing research on Centrolene sabini will focus on bacteria found on the frog’s skin, which seems to provide protection from the deadly chytrid fungus and could eventually offer a preventive treatment for free-ranging frogs – a goal elusive to scientists thus far. 

The team was led by Wayqecha’s research coordinator Alessandro Catenazzi (pictured here) of San Francisco State University. Catenazzi has studied frog populations in and around the Wayqecha Biological Station for over a decade, documenting the decline in frog diversity and populations. A 40 percent loss of frog diversity over the last decade has been documented in the cloud forests around Wayqecha, with aquatic-breeding frogs experiencing the greatest decline. While following patterns of biodiversity loss worldwide, in this instance the decline of glass frogs is likely caused by the recent expansion of the chytrid fungus into the area.

The new frog is named after Andrew Sabin, president of the Andrew Sabin Family Foundation, and lifelong conservationist, philanthropist, and amphibian enthusiast and advocate. (Photos by Alessandro Catenazzi)