Ecuador 2019

It’s go again !
Atheris, still in its thirst for discovery, launched out this year to visit a mythical country in South America, Ecuador. A country rather small in size (compared to its neighbors of South America), but great due to its incredible biodiversity.
In two weeks of visit, we do not pretend to inventory all the herpetofauna of the country, obviously. The choice is even towards relatively limited trips: trip by mini-bus, only three separate sites, but judiciously chosen to observe a maximum of species!



Bigal River Biological Reserve

The Bigal River Biological Reserve is located in the heart of the Amazon forest, in tropical rain forest, in contact with the Sumaco National Park. The site constitutes a remarkable protective barrier for the National Park and its wildlife. 1000 hectares of wooded forest reliefs, torrents, etc await us. The access to the reserve is incredible: more than 5 hours of mini-bus on the mountain roads from Quito, one hour of bush-taxi, and another hour of walk, accompanied by mules otherwise the luggage could not take us to follow !

At the reserve awaits us Thierry, a french guy who dedicates his time and his skills to the proper functioning of the reserve. His work is simply extraordinary. Congratulations to him!



Our visit to the reserve is only intended to make a modest contribution to improving knowledge of the reserve, while collecting quality images. Despite a first night without much result, the observations quickly succeeded. Snakes, in particular, will have been relatively numerous, with 14 different species observed. The most incredible of all, the one that we all hoped for, is finally found: Bothrops taeniatus, a semi-arboreal viper with an absolutely incredible dress. Probably one of the highlights of the trip!



The other mythical snake that we know present on the reserve, the largest viper in the world, Lachesis muta, is however not observed. This species, despite its size, is definitivly very discreet … Too bad, it had ventured near buildings a few months ago … we just missed it! Obviously, it will come back!


After 5 days and 5 nights of intense research and long walks in the forest, it is time to return to Quito to switch to the west side of mountains. We pack up, and return to the meeting place accompanied by the faithful mules after a warm goodbye to Thierry … Thank you again for your welcome, for the meals, your wise advice … It was perfect!

Ps: and special dedication to Florian, who on his photo trap, will have recovered only one video of the local fauna … But a superb ocelot!

Main species encountered: Engystomops petersi, Rhinella dapsillis, Teratohyla mida, Leptodactylus rhodomystax, Hyloxalus boccagei, Techladactylus solimoensis, Potamites strangulatus, Ninia hudsoni, Atractus major, Oxyrhopus petolarius, Imantodes cenchoa, Erythrolamprus aesculapii, Taeniophallus brevirostris, Oxyrhopus occipitalis, Bothrops taeniatus, etc.




Choco forest

A herpetological trip to Ecuador is difficult to imagine without a visit to the Choco forest. Its tropical forests are among the richest forests in South America, and an infinite number of endemic species of flora and fauna. After a long bus trip from Loreto to Pedro Vicente Maldonado, we finally reach our lodge in the heart of the forest where we will spend four days. Four very intense days, punctuated by nocturnal research and daily swimming.


The main species sought were Lachesis acrochorda and Trachyboa boulengeri. We will end up finding this species during a swim, when we specifically looked for it for two days without finding it! An incredible unforgettable moment without a doubt …

Main species encountered: Similisca phaeota, Dendropsophus ebraccatus, Sachatamia ilex, Espadarana prosoblepon, Boana picturata, Pristimantis labiosus, Anolis festae, Basiliscus galeritus, Echinosaura horrida, Enyalioides heterolepis, Oxybelis brevirostris, Imantodes inornatus, Trachyboa boulengeri, Kinosternon leucostomum, etc.


Another legendary place in Ecuador is the Mindo Cloud Forest, located less than two hours from Quito. The high altitude and high humidity shelters a large number of endemic species such as the famous Lizard pinocchio Anolis proboscis. We will therefore spend the last four days of our isolated trip in the heights of Mindo, in the Las Tangaras reserve. Lots of walks on the program, surrounded by hummingbirds, in search of local herpetofauna!


Main species encountered: Pristimantis w-nigrum, Pristimantis crucifer, Hypsiboas pellucens, Leptodactylus melanonotus, Anolis fraseri, Dendrophidion graciliverpa, Pliocercus euryzonus, Dipsas andiana, Dipsas elegans, Ninia atrata, Diaphorolepis wagneri, etc.




These two weeks of travel to Ecuador we have allowed the observation of a large number of remarkable species. Obviously, many are still to be discovered, and there is no doubt that we will have to return to this beautiful country for new discoveries.

A big thank you to all the people we met during the trip for their help and kindness: Thierry, Patricio, Jaime, Jenny, Luis, Guillermo, Ayla and all those we do not mention here!



About the author: Matthieu Berroneau

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