Coastal Venezuela Montane Forests

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Silhouettes of Palm trees on water edge at sunset. Hato Piñero, in the Llanos (plains), Venezuela.
© WWF-Canon / Bruno PAMBOUR

About the Area

The coastal mountains of Venezuela have been long isolated from other lowland and montane moist forests of the region by drier surrounding lowlands. This isolation and a great variety of physiographical landscapes have created an extraordinary species richness and strong speciation processes that are manifested in a relative high level of plant and animal endemism.

In the montane forest, the climate consists of prehumid mesothermic conditions (average annual temperature 10°–20° C and rainfall between 1,000-3,000 mm).

Individual peaks and ranges support their own distinctive and restricted species. Home to a diverse collection of plants and animals, these forests are critical for migratory songbirds coming across the Caribbean in the autumn to stop, rest, and feed.

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Size:
14,000 sq. km (5,500 sq. miles)

Habitat type:
Tropical and Subtropical Moist Broadleaf Forests

Geographic Location:
Northern Coast of South America: Venezuela

Conservation Status:
Vulnerable

Local Species
Palm species include Macanilla (Bactris setulosa), and the narrowly distributed Palmito (Asterogyne spicata). Bird species include the endemic and threatened helmeted curassow (Pauxi pauxi), the endemic black-throated spinetail (Synallaxis castanea), and the fulvous-headed tanager (Thlypopsis fulviceps). Brilliantly colored hummingbirds called táchira emeralds also zip through these forests, feeding mostly on the nectar of flowers.

Neo arctic migrants include Chestnut-sided warbler (Dendroica pensylvanica), and Golden-winged warbler (Vermivora chrysoptera). Mammals include wedge-capped or weeping capuchin monkey (Cebus olivaceus), oncilla (Leopardus tigrinus), and red-tailed squirrel (Sciurus granatensis).

At least 21 species of frogs and 11 species of reptiles are recognized to be endemic to this region.
 / ©: WWF-Canon / Bruno PAMBOUR
Spectacled caiman (Caiman crocodilus) at the edge of a river in the Llanos (plains), Venezuela.
© WWF-Canon / Bruno PAMBOUR

Featured Species

Weeping capuchins (Cebus olivaceus) are similar in body size to small dogs, about 50 cm in length. The tail in this species is semi prehensile and is roughly the same length as the body, making an overall length of approximately 84 cm.

Weeping capuchins are very social animals. They live in troops of about 10 to 33 individuals. They consume fruits, palm nuts, seeds, berries, and many varieties of small vertebrates and invertebrates. In captivity a capuchin may live as long as 55 years. Capuchins in the wild live an average of 34 to 36 years.

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WWF’s work
WWF-Venezuela's  work is to conserve the forests is focused on the Llanos programme. The main objective of this programme is to promote conservation, sustainable use, and improvement of the quality of life in the Llanos ecoregion in Venezuela.

The programme looks to encourage conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity, implementing actions which help to minimize the impact of development on the area. WWF is also involved in establishing a network of private conservation areas. Working with private landowners and initially focused in the Venezuelan Llanos, it is hoped this project can be extended to other areas.

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 / ©: WWF-Canon / WWF Intl.
HRH Prince Bernhard (Founding President of WWF) signing the Conservation Coin Collection Agreement with President Carlos Andres Perez, 1974, Venezuela.
© WWF-Canon / WWF Intl.

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