New Land Acquisition Protects Endangered Wildlife and Historic Site in Colombia

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American Bird Conservancy World Land Trust - US ProAves Columbia



Santa Marta Parakeet. Photo: Fundación ProAves

Short-tailed Albatross. Photo: USFWS

(Washington, D.C., September 22, 2010) The El Dorado Bird Reserve in the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta of northeastern Colombia, home to one of the planet's highest concentrations of endemic and globally threatened birds, amphibians, and plants, will grow thanks to land purchases supported by American Bird Conservancy (ABC) and World Land Trust- US (WLT-US). The newly acquired property, called “Hacienda Vista Nieve,” totals over 250 acres of montane forest, reaching an elevation of almost 8,000 feet, and will be managed by Colombian partner Fundación ProAves.

Hacienda Vista Nieve was established in 1917 by the American Melbourne “Meb” Carriker who was one of South America's great naturalists of the early 20th Century and Colombia's greatest ornithologist, having lived and traveled in Colombia from 1911 until his death in 1965. Meb raised his family of five children on the Vista Nieve coffee farm until 1927. His eldest son, Dr Melbourne “Mel” R. Carriker (1915-2007), became a distinguished marine biologist and Professor of Marine Studies at the College of Marine Studies, University of Delaware, and wrote the popular book “Vista Nieve: The Remarkable True Adventures of an Early Twentieth Century Naturalist and His Family in Colombia, South America” recounting his experiences on this remarkable property. Given the extensive ornithological and natural history studies of Vista Nieve for 100 years, the acquisition and protection of its forest has great scientific and historic value.

In memory of the tremendous contribution to neotropical ornithology by Meb Carriker and his family, the new 250 acre acquisition within the El Dorado reserve will be named the “Carriker Sanctuary”.

The El Dorado Reserve is home to an extraordinary bird diversity totaling 300 species, including three– Santa Marta Parakeet, Santa Marta Bush-Tyrant and Santa Marta Sabrewing– that are Endangered under IUCN-World Conservation Union criteria and have their entire or major stronghold population here. The presence of these species establishes the reserve as an Alliance for Zero Extinction (AZE) site, among the world's highest priorities for conservation. Other threatened birds found in the reserve include: Black-fronted Wood-Quail, Santa Marta Screech-owl, Black-and-chestnut Eagle, Blossomcrown, Rusty-headed Spinetail, Santa Marta Antpitta, Cerulean Warbler, and Santa Marta Warbler.

The El Dorado Reserve lies within 14,000 acres of subtropical to montane forest and pasturelands on an isolated ridge of the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta massif with only one-eighth of the area being currently protected. This narrow, exposed ridge is a major catchment for humid onshore winds in an otherwise dry to arid region, and feeds two major watersheds that supply more than 800,000 people in the Caribbean coastal city and resorts of Santa Marta.

The El Dorado Bird Reserve, which is owned and managed by ABC's Colombian partner, Fundación ProAves, was established in 2005. Since that time, adjacent strategic properties have been acquired to protect a total of 1,928 acres of one of the most important and under-protected ecosystems on the planet.


American Bird Conservancy ( conserves native birds and their habitats throughout the Americas by safeguarding the rarest species, conserving and restoring habitats, and reducing threats while building capacity of the bird conservation movement. ABC is a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit membership organization that is consistently awarded a top, four-star rating by the independent group, Charity Navigator.

The World Land Trust-US ( has dedicated 20 years to saving rainforests and endangered species across the tropics and saved over 1.6 million acres of rainforest and other critical habitats at imminent threat through land purchase and protection. WLT-US is a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit organization with the top four-star rating by Charity Navigator.

Fundación ProAves ( is Colombia's leading conservation charity that protects 55,000 acres of threatened tropical forests across 18 nature reserves, which hold many of the country's most endangered species. It works closely with the local communities around the reserves.

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