At the heart of our efforts to protect the Palkachupa Cotinga is improving the livelihoods of the indigenous Leco people of Bolivia. A new bee-keeping program offers one way to earn an income without negatively impacting birds and their habitat.
This beautiful bird is found only in the Apolo region of Bolivia and was unknown for almost a century until it was rediscovered by ABC’s local partner Armonía in 2000.
The Palkachupa Cotinga is considered Critically Endangered and at risk of extinction because of its small population and very small range, where habitat destruction is ongoing. The population is estimated to number fewer than 800 individuals and suspected to be declining rapidly.
With ABC support, Armonía works with Leco communities in the Apolo region to conserve the Palkachupa Cotinga. For instance, Armonía hired a local member of the Leco governing council, William Ferrufino, to manage the Palkachupa project out of the town of Atén, in the southern sector of the Palkachupa’s range. Armonía has also established a 130-acre reserve here to help support an emerging tourism industry.
Atén has one of the largest indigenous Leco communities and cattle ranching is the dominant economic activity. By working with the Leco, we hope to help them plan their land use to protect water resources along with Palkachupa habitat across their territory, which extends well beyond Atén.
At the community’s request and with ABC support, in 2015 Armonía launched a community-based bee-keeping entrepreneurship program to serve the dual purpose of protecting critical habitat and diversifying income.
Ten hive-boxes will be initially installed in the Palkachupa Reserve at Atén, and Leco community members from several communities will learn how to produce honey. This project provides the Leco with income from honey sales and additional incentive to value the reserve in their community.
It will also strengthen the relationship between Armonía and the Leco, helping to influence the land-use planning and management that will ultimately protect much more habitat for Palkachupa Cotingas.