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Travel News Finding Endangered Animals on Ecuador’s Mainland

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Finding Endangered Animals on Ecuador’s Mainland

Ecuador is the country with the most endangered species. And you can still see them in the wild. Find out why this tiny South American nation is home to so many threatened animals and where you can see them.

Traveling through Ecuador offers an opportunity not yet cherished by many. Especially with a trip to the mainland, which most bypass en route to the Galapagos Islands. But we know that Ecuador (aside from the islands) is worthy of a closer look.

Mainland Ecuador: An Underrated Eco-Destination

Indeed, the archipelagos made famous by Darwin are among the most notable conservation areas on the planet. And they are only 600 miles offshore from mainland Ecuador. So, it’s better to think of the Galápagos as an extension of Ecuador, rather than the sole destination. Mainland Ecuador reflects tenfold the island’s bragging rights to biodiversity and sustainability. It’s utterly one of the most underrated eco-destinations abound.

Did we convince you yet? Ecuador is about twice the size of New York and is the country with the highest number of endangered species in the world. While that claim might not seem like a good thing initially, it is. 

Why Are There So Many Endangered Species in Ecuador?

The number of endangered species is so high because the country is home to numerous rare and unique environments. Plus, the delicate species within them. The country’s elevated priority to study and identify both plants and animals at risk provides Ecuador the ability to find and protect these species. An article released by the Pegasus Foundation notes more than 2,000 endangered species can be found in Ecuador. 

But, the best news of all? Planning a trip to Ecuador offers the greatest chance to actually see a wide variety of at-risk species in their natural environment. An impressive 19% of Ecuador’s total landmass is dedicated to national parks and reserves. And the tiny country is blissfully easy to get around. In just one jaunt, travelers can visit the Pacific coastline, the Andes Mountains, and the Amazon Rainforest. Not to mention in-between territories like clouds forest, highlands, volcanoes, and beyond.

Ecuador: Where to See Endangered Animals

While visiting these grand places, it’s entirely possible to see a nest of hatching Olive Ridley sea turtles (one of five endangered sea turtle species found in Ecuador) on a remote stretch of the northern coast. Or, to witness the legendary soar of the Andean condor as it glides around the Cotopaxi Volcano. You can even catch sight of the spectacled bear (the sole bear species in South America) tiptoeing through the cloud forests.

For those who are less adventurous, there are plenty of city-based parks and rescue centers, too. Many help with the recovery and protection of endangered animals. Usually, those who can’t be safely returned to their natural environments. In Guayaquil, it’s possible to see the harpy eagle and the spectacled caiman, among other notable species at the Parque Historico (a 7-acre wildlife reserve). Or in Puyo, the city offers an idyllic space to gaze at ocelots, scarlet macaws, capuchin and spider monkeys. Find them at the YanaCocha Bio Park (all animals are rescued from the pet trade).

What to do if you Find an Endangered Animal in Ecuador?

If you come across an endangered species, there are a few things you might need to do. It all depends on where the sighting happens and whether the animal is at risk. Any sightings of turtle nests or turtle hatchlings should be reported to Wild Aid of Mainland Ecuador to ensure proper measures are taken to protect the site. Please contact them at +593 (4) 371-6729 or communications@wildaid.org.

Most other wild animals will be just fine so long as they are left undisturbed. However, if you do see one away from nature or who seems to be sick or injured, please call for help. For Andean Condors, please contact The Peregrine Fund at 208-362-8277 or tpf@peregrinefund.org. For spectacled bears and other animals, please notify WCS Ecuador at (593-2) 2276-034 or wcsecuador@wcs.org.