There were almost no trees left. Large extensions of forest had been cut down during decades to be replaced by sown fields and meadows. There was almost no life left and the green of the jungle was being replaced by the yellow and the gray of the new landscape. Terrified animal species ran away or they just disappeared. Some were nimbly caught by hunters to be sold in near markets.
Everything was on the track leading to the total destruction of the wildlife and towards the taking over of the nature by the action of the human being… There was nothing left to do. Or was there? Yes… There was much to do and to change and everything began with a simple desire: to save the life… To save the nature.
Once again, the land was painted in green and many other colors. The trees were patiently and resolutely sown. The fruits began to grow slowly and attracted hundreds of bird species: the guardians of the nature, the reason to be of that simple desire to save and to preserve. There was blooming everywhere and the joyful singing of the birds intoned an affirmation of life. The metallic colors of the hummingbirds painted the air with hope. Hundreds of species of amphibians, reptiles and mammals had nourishment again and could breed. The miracle of life let the human being find again its natural essence which is saved in its DNA as an ineffable treasure.
It all started with something that had neither a plan nor a script and was completely unexpected. It happened suddenly, as great things do. One day, during a walk by the Tapichalaca foggy forest, in the province of Zamora Chinchipe, American and Ecuadorian scientists heard something unusual. It was a peculiar sound that lead them to discover a long-legged bird of low flight. Its body covered with gray and black feathers had never before been caught by any camera. It was a new species that filled them with amazement and hope. They named it jocotoco ridgely. Jocotoco was the name that local farmers used to give this bird when they rarely saw it and it was named ridgely after its discoverer, Robert Ridgely.
What does it feel like to discover a new species and to find more life than the life described in the conservation manuals? That warmth in the heart promoted the purchase of several hectares of forest in order to turn them into a safe dwelling for the jocotoco and other species registered in that place.
This happened in 1998 and thus, the Jocotoco Foundation was created in honor to the bird that gracefully announced its existence where nobody expected or imagined to find such beautiful creature. This purchase was followed by the firm intention of preserving other territories in Ecuador. Currently, there are 16000 protected hectares and 11 reserves nationwide.
- 11 reserves
- 16000 hectares
- 36 of the 51 globally endangered species in continental Ecuador are in the reserves and so are 24 threatened species
About the lodges:
Since the beginning of the Jocotoco Foundation initiative, thousands of biologists, ornithologists and foreign scientists arrived in Ecuadorian lands with a list of birds to be discovered within the clashing and diverse vegetation of our small territory. Their stay was extended for days because the art of “pajarear” (to admire the nature) demands time and patience: time for wandering by the life itself, which develops under the light flight of the birds; and patience to see them slide on the air or hide among the branches and to listen to their magical melody.
In this way, the Jocotoco Foundation began to build spaces which embrace scientists. The first one was the Casa Simpson in Tapichalaca. Little by little, near each reserve, they created a lodge that harmonizes with the nature and offers comfort to the visitors.
And how would they name every lodge? Of course, after the most emblematic bird of each place…
Since they promote an integral and responsible tourism project, the money that is collected from the tourists stay is destined to their own support and to the support of the foundation for the environmental conservation. The people who work at the lodges are community representatives and they are also ambassadors of the nature preservation.
- The first lodge was Tapichalaca, created in 2007.
- All the lodges were conceived as houses for researchers and have been progressively improved.
- The most visited one is Umbrella Bird Lodge, in Piñas.
- The lodges are built with local materials that harmonize with the environment.
- All the lodges are provided with the basic services and internet access.