Protecting Cerro Chucantí
A mountain which harbors a wide array of secrets due to its unique location and structure
Cerro Chucantí is an isolated massif in eastern Panama that rises from sea level to 1439 meters (nearly 5,000ft) in elevation. High in the sky, temperatures are significantly cooler and sustain a unique cloudforest. The geographic isolation of the Cerro Chucantí mountaintop has allowed its fauna and flora to differentiate considerably, such that it contains several locally endemic species / subspecies found nowhere else on Earth.
The forests of Cerro Chucantí still harbor populations of wildlife of great Conservation concern, like the Critically Endangered Black-headed Spider Monkey (Ateles fusciceps rufiventris), the Endangered Baird´s Tapir (Tapirus bairdii), as well as Vulnerable species such as the Great Curassow (Crax rubra), and Puma (Puma concolor), whose populations are extremely vulnerable to habitat loss, fragmentation, and overhunting.
Chucanti lies in a key biological transition zone between two global Biodiversity Hotspots, the Mesoamerican Hotspot and the Tumbes-Choco-Magdalena Hotspot, as defined by Conservation International.
Cerro Chucantí has been designated an Important Bird Area by the Panama Audubon Society and is rated as a High-Priority Endemic Bird Area of the World (EBA 024: Darien Highlands) by Birdlife International with such specialties as the endemic Beautiful Treerunner (Margarornis bellulus), an endemic race of Russet-crowned Quail-Dove (Geotrygon goldmani oreas), and an undescribed race of the Varied Solitaire (Myadestes coloratus spp.)
Unfortunately the forests of Cerro Chucantí are under severe threat from non-traditional deforestation for logging and creating of cattle pastures. Forest loss and degradation at Cerro Chucantí threaten not only the endemic wildlife species in the region but also the forested watershed, which supplies a year-round supply of clean drinking water to nearby villages. As we speak hundreds of century-old trees are been cut and the forest soon will be burnt to the ground.
Out of desperation for seeing the forest burning, through grants, private funds and individual donations, we have been able to purchase various properties from cattle ranchers that in total protect more than 1,500 acres of rainforest, as a Private Nature Reserve and have establish a Biological Field Station.