Urgent fundraiser launched to save famous Ecuadorian antpitta reserve


One of South America's most famous bird reserves has come up for sale and a fundraiser has been launched to safeguard its future.

Refugio Paz de las Aves, near Mindo in the Ecuadorian Andes, is one of the first names on any prospective tour itinerary to the country for it offers unique opportunities to see up to five species of antpitta, plus a host of other usually secretive forest species, that have been habituated through feeding practices introduced by Angel Paz.

Mr Paz dreamt up the idea of tourism for birding and photography in his mother's farm, creating the private reserve with his brother, Rodrigo, in 2005, initially offering the opportunity to see a nearby Andean Cock-of-the-Rock lek. Since then the operation has expanded significantly and it has become the best place in the world to see the legendary Giant Antpitta, with the resident bird – fondly named 'Maria' – seen by thousands of birders worldwide. Indeed it is Mr Paz that is widely credited with devising the concept of antpitta feeding, a game-changing practice that is now used much more widely across South America in order to help birders see this elusive family of birds.

Giant Antpitta is one of five antpitta species that can be seen at Refugio Paz de las Aves (Martyn Sidwell).

After 17 years of dedicating their lives to the birds of their farm and allowing others to share the experience, Angel and Rodrigo now urgently need your help.

Angel and Rodrigo's beloved mother recently passed away, leaving the property where the business originated to her nine children. However, of the nine, it is only Angel and Rodrigo who want to preserve the land and its forests so it can continue to provide a refuge for antpittas and many other forest birds. The other seven members of the family, who need to maintain their own families, have indicated they wish to sell the property in the commercial market, which means it will be used to raise cattle and would destroy the habitat for these amazing birds and further deforest this already fragile area.

Therefore, a fundraiser has been launched with the goal of raising the $155,000 needed to purchase the land and ensure that Refugio Paz de las Aves is spared from deforestation and agriculture. The Paz family has allowed until 8 August for the money to be raised – if it isn't, they will put the property up for sale.

Many thousands of birders will have visited Refugio Paz de las Aves since it was created in 2005, and Angel and Rodrigo hope that all of those who have enjoyed birding here over the years will now help to save it for the future.

To make a donation to this worthy cause, click here.