Private reserve safeguards newly discovered frogs, and other wildlife, in Ecuadorian cloud forest
by Jeremy Hance
Although it covers only 430 hectares (1,063 acres) of the little-known Chocó forest in Ecuador, the private reserve of las Gralarias in Ecuador is home to an incredible explosion of life. Long known as a birder’s paradise, the Reserva las Gralarias is now making a name for itself as a hotspot for new and endangered amphibians, as well as hundreds of stunning species of butterfly and moth. This is because the reserve is set in the perfect place for evolution to run wild: cloud forest spanning vast elevational shifts.
A series of scientific surveys in las Gralarias over the last decade have borne this out. To date, Reserva las Gralarias is known to be home to over 450 species of moth and butterfly, 27 species of hummingbirds, 24 birds endemic to the region and 12 threatened birds, as well as ten endangered amphibians. But discoveries of new species are also increasing: two new species of frog have been described in the last year alone, and six more await formal description form the reserve…
(photos (clockwise from top L): Las Gralarias glass frog - Jaime Garcia, Oberthurri giant owl butterfly - Carl Hutter, Tim Kell, Hyloscirtus alytolylax - Carl Hutter, Velvet-purple coronet - Dusan Brinkhuizen)