Good endangered salamander news from Guatemala

Long-limbed salamander

From Wildlife Extra:

Endangered salamander habitat saved in Guatemala

The last remaining forest home of two species of salamander, lost to science for nearly 40 years, has been saved following the completion of a land purchase supported by World Land Trust (WLT) and a consortium of funders.

The purchase of Finca San Isidro in the western highlands of Guatemala was finalised by WLT’s Guatemalan partner, Fundación Para el Ecodesarrollo y la Conservación (FUNDAECO) in September 2015, following WLT’s donation towards the purchase earlier in 2015.

Among others, the species that are now protected are Finca Chiblac Salamander (Bradytriton silus), categorised by IUCN as Critically Endangered, and the Long-limbed Salamander (Nyctanolis pernix), categorised as Endangered.

High in Guatemala’s Cuchumatanes mountain range, the salamanders’ forest home had been slated for coffee production. Land clearance would have certainly gone ahead if it hadn’t been for the intervention of international funders.

FUNDAECO identified the importance of the property back in 2009. Finca San Isidro measures 2,280 acres (922.5 hectares) and of the total area, WLT funding has secured more than 800 acres (324 hectares). FUNDAECO will oversee the conservation management of the property.

“Thank you for the invaluable support we have received from World Land Trust in creating San Isidro Reserve, in the Western Highlands of Guatemala,” said Marco Cerezo, Director of FUNDAECO. “This important effort among research academics, local conservationists and organisations to fund the protection of unique ecosystems will help avoid the rapid degradation of this unique biological treasure and also assist the fight against poverty by supporting livelihoods for local communities.”

Good Guatemalan birds and amphibians news update

This video says about itself:

A singing male Pink-headed Warbler, Ergaticus (formerly Cardellina) versicolor, at the roadside edge of a large forest patch on the Ocosingo Highway in Chiapas, Mexico, on March 21, 2014.

From Wildlife Extra:

An important lagoon and montane forest property in Guatemala is purchased by conservation charity

Thanks to a donation from Puro Coffee the World Land Trust has the funds to help their partner Fundación Para el Ecodesarrollo y la Conservación (FUNDAECO) purchase Laguna Brava in western Guatemala.

The property measures 1,186 acres (480 hectares), with the lake (Yolnabaj) takes up just under half the area of the property. The remainder is made up of some of the last remnants of the region’s montane tropical karst forest on the northern, southern and eastern side of the lake.

It supports many rare species including amphibians and birds and is home to three species of tree frog that are listed as Critically Endangered by IUCN, as well Lincoln’s Climbing Salamander, which is registered as Near Threatened.

The forest surrounding the lagoon hosts 72 different bird species including the Highlands Guan (Penelopina nigra), and the Pink-headed Warbler (Ergaticus versicolor), both registered by IUCN as Vulnerable.

“FUNDAECO’s determination to create this reserve, which forms the first protected reserve in the region, will help many previously unprotected but Critically Endangered species,” said Charlotte Beckham, WLT’s Conservation Programmes Co-ordinator.

Read all about the conservation charity World Land Trust and the work it does HERE.

Good Guatemalan migratory birds and amphibians news

This video from Guatemalsa is called Saving the Sierra Caral.

From Wildlife Extra:

Creation of new Guatemala reserve has big implications for bird migration

Conservationists are celebrating the government in Guatemala’s formal establishment of a new 47,000 acre (19,013 hectare) protected area that will safeguard some of the country’s most endangered wildlife.

The reserve is home to three species of threatened birds, a host of migratory birds that breed in the United States, a dozen globally threatened frogs and salamanders, five of which are found nowhere else in the world, and the rare Merendon palm pit viper (Bothriechis thalassinus), an arboreal, blue-toned venomous snake.

The National Congress of Guatemala established the National Protected Area by an overwhelming pro-conservation vote of 106 in favour out of a total of 125 congressmen present in the session.

It is the first new protected area designated by the Guatemalan Congress in nine years.

The Core Zone of the area, the 6,000 acre Sierra Caral Amphibian Conservation Reserve, was established in 2012 by Fundación para el Ecodesarrollo y la Conservación (FUNDAECO) with assistance from, among others, the American Bird Conservancy (ABC), the World Land Trust, Global Wildlife Conservation and Southern Wings.

Tucked away in the eastern corner of Guatemala near the Caribbean Sea and running along the Honduran border, the newly protected area is named the Sierra Caral Water and Forest Reserve.

“We have been working to obtain the legal declaration of this new protected area for more than seven years,” said Marco Cerezo of FUNDAECO, a leading Guatemalan conservation organisation.

“Finally, the biological importance of Sierra Caral has been recognized by our National Congress. This new protected area brings us a step closer toward our dream, which is the conservation of key stop-over and wintering habitats for migratory birds along their flyway across Caribbean Guatemala.”

Along with other forested sites in the region, Sierra Caral contains critical overwintering and stopover sites for nearly 120 species of neotropical migratory birds, along with 13 species that are regionally endemic and three threatened species: highland guan, great curassow, and keel-billed motmot.

Migratory birds include the Canada warbler, Kentucky warbler, wood thrush, painted bunting, worm-eating warbler, and Louisiana waterthrush. Thirty-three migratory species with population declines in their breeding grounds have been reported in Sierra Caral.

Exploration of these mountains over the past two decades has yielded several new discoveries of beetles, salamanders, frogs, and snakes. At least 118 species of amphibians and reptiles are reported for this area, including seven endemic amphibians only recently discovered there.

“Guatemalan officials demonstrated great vision in establishing this protected area,” said Andrew Rothman, Migratory Bird Program Director at ABC. “They have preserved a key link in the migration corridor between North and South America for migratory birds and ensured North American breeding songbirds will have stopover and wintering ground habitat to use during migration.

“Without question, it is a key addition to Central America’s roster of protected areas.”

Thousands of years ago, the Sierra Caral Mountains were likely islands where species evolved that are found nowhere else.

With the additional convergence of North and South American flora and fauna in this region, Sierra Caral is one of the most unique places for wildlife on Earth.

Big Maya archaeological discovery in Guatemala

This 2011 video is about earlier archaeological discoveries in Holmul, Guatemala.

From National Geographic:

Giant Maya Frieze Found in Guatemala

Archaeologist Anya Shetler cleans an inscription below an ancient stucco frieze recently unearthed in the buried Maya city of Holmul in the Peten region of Guatemala. Sunlight from a tunnel entrance highlights the carved legs of a ruler sitting atop the head of a Maya mountain spirit.

The enormous frieze—which measures 26 feet by nearly 7 feet (8 meters by 2 meters)—depicts human figures in a mythological setting, suggesting these may be deified rulers. It was discovered in July in the buried foundations of a rectangular pyramid in Holmul.

Maya archaeologist Francisco Estrada-Belli and his team were excavating a tunnel left open by looters when they happened upon the frieze. “The looters had come close to it, but they hadn’t seen it,” Estrada-Belli said.

According to Estrada-Belli, the frieze is one of the best preserved examples of its kind. “It’s 95 percent preserved. There’s only one corner that’s not well preserved because it’s too close to the surface, but the rest of it isn’t missing any parts,” said Estrada-Belli, who is affiliated with Tulane University, Boston University, and the American Museum of Natural History and who is also a National Geographic Explorer. …

Caught Between Two Great Powers

The section of the temple at Holmul where the frieze was found dates back to about 590 A.D., which corresponds to the Maya classical era, a period defined by the power struggles between two major Maya dynasties: Tikal and Kaanul.

The two kingdoms competed with one another for resources and for control of other, smaller Maya city-states. Until now, however, it had been unclear which dynasty Holmul owed its allegiance to, but an inscription on the newly discovered frieze reveals that the temple was commissioned by Ajwosaj, ruler of a neighboring city-state called Naranjo, which archaeologists know from other discoveries was a vassal city of the Kaanul kingdom.

“We now know that Holmul was under the influence of the Kaanul dynasty,” Canuto said.

In 2012, Canuto’s team found and deciphered a series of hieroglyphically inscribed panels at another Maya city of a similar size to Holmul, called La Corona, which was also under the patronage of the Kaanul kingdom.