The Andean bear is the only bear species native to South America, and their numbers are falling. In Peru, the Inkaterra Machu Picchu Pueblo Hotel, a National Geographic Unique Lodge of the World, has set aside land as a rescue center for the bears.
In the wild, population data is sketchy, but some estimates suggest fewer than 3,000 spectacled bears may remain today. Their numbers suffer primarily from destruction and fragmentation of their habitat. Poachers also hunt them for their meat and body parts, and farmers kill them as agricultural pests. They are currently listed as vulnerable to extinction.
Many of these threats can be largely attributed to the inequity in land tenure. In the most productive areas of the Northern Andes, property is concentrated in the hands of a few, which means that the poorest inhabitants are forced to occupy the limited land available on the fragile hillsides of mountains inhabited by the spectacled bear.
As humans continue to move in on the bears habitat, their future will remain uncertain.