The Butterfly is the “Morpho helenor prometa” a subspecies of Morpho helenor, discovered and described in 2011 by Yubinca Gareca and Patrick Blandin in Tarija’s sub andean and southernmost part of the territory. This beautiful butterfly has greenish and purple details in an almost black backdrop and its size oscillates between 10 to 13 cm. The researchers decided to name it “PROMETA” not just as an appreciation of PROMETA’s support, but also as a recognition for its contribution to the conservation of Bolivia’s biological diversity. Therefore, the country and Tarija had the honor of making the discovery of a new subspecie and PROMETA placed its name within the scientific registry.
We should remember that PROMETA started more than 20 years ago with the conservation of the Tariquía and Sama Reserves. It drew new boundaries, researched, and supported the development of their communities and it provided them with a proper protection system. Towards the year 2002, once the State created its own institution of protected areas – the SERNAP – PROMETA turned in the administration of the areas, not just with the existing infrastructure, but also with the funds that guaranteed its functioning for several years. In the next term, the organization supported the creation of over 30 units of conservation all over the country (national, departmental and municipal in all departments) and it carried out significant work, like the counseling of the Departmental Service of Protected Areas in Santa Cruz, the most important of Bolivia.
The second animal in the history of PROMETA is the more familiar “Lama glama”, which we all call Llama. At the moment PROMETA’S work was wrapping up with the National protected areas, a strategy developed together with the communities and the Yunchará Municipality established to repopulate Tarija’s high plains. At the time, an excessive number of donkeys and sheep was finishing with the native grassland of the area (unlike the llamas, both species have hooves that are too hard and harmful for the soil). In a span of about 10 years the llama herd went from 300 to close to 12.000, notably reducing the donkeys and sheep. The “Chapaca” llamas, in part due to their high quality, started winning the most awards at National Fairs (much to the amazement of the traditional producers). But more than these awards, the biggest reward is seeing the high plain prairie preserved and the local population with a new productive alternative.
The third animal which defines the history of PROMETA is Tremarctos ornatus, the Jucumari bear. A project taken up by PROMETA and Chester Zoo of Great Britain, has accomplished to photograph an adult specimen and its cub it for the first time in Tarija’s territory (in the last three or four decades) and therefore confirm its existence in Tarija where the evidence of its presence was only indirect (skins and testimonials). Thereby, Tarija can reclaim and increase its natural patrimony and Bolivia can reduce the vulnerability of this threatened species to the unorganized grown of agricultural lands.
The success of the project led by the biologist Ximena Velez – Liendo, has awarded her the Whitley Award, one of the most prestigious in the world which was announced on May 18th 2017 in London and presented by members of the British Royal Family. Also in this topic we must point out the important work of the conservation department of PROMETA, directed by the biologist Claudia Oller, another of Tarija’s professionals who has promoted the research in the ecoregions of Tarija and Bolivia, and earning national prestige for this.
The bear that was found is “Mendeño”, “Sanlorenceño” (from San Lorenzo) and most likely will become a symbol for the region and all of Tarija.
With the discovery of the Jucumari we’re a little richer, we have reclaimed our natural surroundings and we have the challenge of creating the conditions for the bear to continue to reproduce in harmony with human beings (a great challenge when it comes to a large mammal). For sure we will achieve it if we manage to bring together institutions, State and primarily the local communities.