In a two part series, Sarah Confer visits one of our partner organisations, the Spectacled Bear Conservation Society (SBC) located in the North of Peru. In this, the first blog she provides an overview of the SBC and their work, in the second blog she provides an overview of the work done by SBC in supporting women’s artisan cooperatives.
After a couple of days in Lima visiting friends and adjusting to being back in Peru, I decided to take a slight detour up to Chiclayo before heading to Cusco for the next two and a half months, to check out theSpectacled Bear Conservation Society.
“Slight” detour? Twelve hours on a bus + one hour in a car later, I found myself about as far away – physically and culturally – from Cusco as I could probably get. Thankful for a few days of heat but nervous about the spectre of dengue fever that looms in this area, I set out to witness first-hand how this group works in the field.
The SBC was started by Canadian biologist Robyn Appleton who came to Peru to study the famous but elusive Peruvian Spectacled Bear. After a few unsatisfying months of fieldwork and no bear sightings, she met Javier and the two decided to search in a new area, near a small town called Batan Grande, where there were reports of bears in the area. On their first day out, they spotted 4 bears! And the second, time 5 more! Clearly, they were on to something.
The Spectacled Bear, made famous throughout the world by the Paddington Bear stories, is an under-studied species which faces threats from habitat fragmentation and encroachment from agricultural and mining activities. Robyn and Javier, with support from their families, founded the SBC Centre in Batan Grande in 2009, a gorgeous spot from which they conduct their work and host conservation volunteers.
The SBC is not only pioneering important research in this area in an effort to develop effective management plans for the species, they also work to educate locals, and the world, about this enchanting animal. Specifically, the SBC formed a cooperative of women who live in and around Batan Grande to produce hand-felted animals. This initiative not only affords these women the opportunity to earn supplementary income, but it’s a way of connecting them with the important message of environmental conservation and habitat protection.
In my next blog I’ll explore more about these women’s artisan cooperatives.