The critically endangered Ecuadorian white-fronted capuchin (photo by MunicipioPinas, flickr.com)

It’s a sad and sobering thing to look at the list of critically endangered species in Peru, as it is for any country. As of February 2017, the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species lists 51 species that are currently critically endangered in Peru (with a further 106 endangered).

IUCN defines critically endangered as follows:

“A taxon [a group of one or more populations of an organism or organisms] is Critically Endangered when it is facing an extremely high risk of extinction in the wild in the immediate future.”

To give you an idea of how fragile and immediate this status is, all too many species listed below have populations of less than 250, some with estimated population declines of 80% over the next ten years. Some are already considered to be probably extinct.

Critically Endangered Mammals in Peru

  • Rio Mayo Titi Monkey (Callicebus oenanthe) — The Rio Mayo titi, also known as the San Martín titi and Andean titi monkey, is found in the Andean foothills of Peru and in the northern part of the San Martín Region. Major habitat loss has made the Rio Mayo titi one of the most endangered primates in the world.
  • Ecuadorian White-fronted Capuchin (Cebus aequatorialis) — Considered a subspecies of the white-fronted capuchin (Cebus albifrons), the Ecuadorian white-fronted capuchin exists in less than 10 protected areas in Andean Peru and Ecuador.
  • Zuniga’s Dark Rice Rat (Melanomys zunigae) — A species of rodent known only from a small region of coastal Peru.
  • Peruvian Yellow-tailed Woolly Monkey (Oreonax flavicauda) — One of the largest neotropical primates and one of Peru’s largest endemic mammals, the yellow-tailed woolly monkey lives in the Peruvian Andes, primarily in the departments of Amazonas and San Martín.
An endangered yellow-tailed woolly monkey (photo by Platyrrhinus, Wikimedia Commons)

Critically Endangered Reptiles in Peru

  • Brazilian Woodland Racer (Drymoluber apurimacensis) — Also known as the Apurímac woodland racer, this rare and critically endangered snake is known only from the Apurímac region of Peru.
  • Lima Leaf-toed Gecko (Phyllodactylus sentosus) — Now found at only a handful of archaeological sites in the Lima Region.

Critically Endangered Birds in Peru

  • Royal Cinclodes (Cinclodes aricomae) — This critically endangered bird breeds in the Andes of south-east Peru and bordering areas in Bolivia. Its population is believed to be less than 250.
  • White-bellied Cinclodes (Cinclodes palliates) — Inhabits high-altitude marshy grassland in the Junín Region of central Peru.

Image shows a white-bellied cinclodes at the Ticlio Pass in central Peru (photo by Dominic Sherony, flickr.com)

  • Chilean Woodstar (Eulidia yarrellii) — Normally found in the far north of Chile, but has also been reported in southern Peru.
  • Galapagos Petrel (Pterodroma phaeopygia) — Endemic to the Galapagos Islands of Ecuador, the Galapagos petrel has also been spotted off the coast of Peru.

Image shows two Galapagos petrels in flight (photo by Lip Kee, flickr.com)

  • Marañón Spinetail (Synallaxis maranonica) — Found in subtropical or tropical forests and shrub lands of Peru and Ecuador.
  • Junín Grebe (Podiceps taczanowskii) — This grebe, also known as the puna grebe, is found only on Lake Junín in the highlands of Junín in west-central Peru.

Image shows a Junín grebe with its distinctive red eyes (photo by Birdingperu, Wikimedia Commons)

  • Sira Curassow (Pauxi koepckeae) — Found in subtropical or tropical moist lowland forests of central Peru, with a population of below 250 and decreasing.
  • White-winged Guan (Penelope albipennis) — Found in the regions of Lambayeque, Cajamarca and Piura in northwest Peru.
  • Waved Albatross (Phoebastria irrorata) — Also known as the Galapagos albatross, these medium-sized albatrosses breed in the Galápagos archipelago and head to the coast of Peru and Ecuador during non-breeding season.
Waved albatross
Waved albatrosses (photo by putneymark, flickr.com)

Critically Endangered Fish in Peru

  • Anablepsoides speciosus — Currently known to exist only in and around the Quisto Cocha (Quistacocha) lagoon just outside Iquitos. Critically endangered and declining due to capture for the ornamental trade and declining habitat conditions.
  • Aposturisoma myriodon — A species of armored catfish, it is native to the Aguaytia River basin of the Upper Amazon River system.
  • Astroblepus formosus — A catfish found in the Ucayali River in Peru.
  • Red Pencilfish (Nannostomus mortenthaleri) — Known for its bright coral-red coloration, the red pencilfish has only been recorded from a small tributary of the Nanay River, and possibly the Tigre River, in Peru.
  • Largetooth Sawfish (Pristis pristis) — A sawfish found in various parts of the world. Its appearance in Peru may represented seasonal migration from the species’ core range in Central America.
  • Rhamdella Montana — Found in a small part of the Ucayali River basin in Peru.
  • Rhamdia xetequepeque — Found in a small part of the Jequetepeque River basin in Peru.
  • Sciaena callaensis — Found in the brackish water of Callao Bay near Lima. Due to continued pollution of this bay, and the fact that the fish hasn’t been seen since 1966, it is considered possibly extinct.
Endangered red pencilfish
The critically endangered red pencilfish (photo by Brian Gratwicke, flickr.com)

Critically Endangered Amphibians in Peru

Question: Why are there so many critically endangered frogs and toads in Peru?

A large number of frogs and toads are currently listed as critically endangered species in Peru. I was wondering why, so I asked my friend Evan Twomey (see dendrobates.org), a postdoctoral researcher studying color evolution in Ranitomeya (a genus of poison dart frog). According to Evan:

“The main reason so many frogs and toads are on the red list is that they are generally fragile, which makes them sensitive to a number of factors such as habitat loss/degradation, and various diseases (especially chytrid fungus). In a lot of cases chytrid fungus has really destroyed a lot of populations/species, especially in the highlands and throughout central America. There are some other factors — for example, in the Amazon, a lot of species are not well studied so their distributions aren’t well known outside a few localities. This could cause some people to think the distribution is, or at least could be, small. Usually people err on the side of caution and assess conservation status based on the currently known distribution, which is often an underestimate of the real distribution. It’s very common for frogs to have large range extensions, which would obviously affect the conservation assessment. For example, the species Cochranella erminea (a glassfrog) was known originally only from its original description, from a couple localities in southern Peru. In 2010 we found this species way in the north of Peru, which was something like a 900 km range extension. So, a conservation assessment based on the original data would have severely underestimated its distribution and made the conservation assessment much more dire than reality.”

  • Oxapampa Poison Frog (Ameerega planipaleae) — A rare poison frog found in wetlands near Oxapampa, Peru.
  • Andes stubfoot toad (Atelopus andinus) — This toad is found in small parts of San Martín and Loreto in northern Peru. It’s population is declining, possibly by 50% over the next 10 years.
  • Atelopus epikeisthos — A toad know from only one locality a few miles east of Chachapoyas in northern Peru.
  • Carabaya Stubfoot Toad (Atelopus erythropus) — This toad lives in cloud forest in the Cordillera Carabaya in the Puno Region of southern Peru. Its population decline is estimated to be more than 80% over the next ten years.
  • Atelopus eusebiodiazi — A toad found in cloud forest near Ayabaca in the northern portion of the Cordillera de Huancabamba in the Piura Region.
  • Schmidt’s Stubfoot Toad (Atelopus pachydermus) — Found in parts of the Andes of northern Peru and southern Ecuador. Considered possibly extinct, probably due to climate change and chytridiomycosis (an infectious disease in amphibians).
  • Atelopus patazensis — A toad known from one locality, an inter-Andean valley of the northern portion of the Cordillera Central in the La Libertad Region of northwestern Peru.
  • Peru Stubfoot Toad (Atelopus peruensis) — Primarily found in the Cajamarca Region, also in the regions of Ancash and Piura.
  • Atelopus podocarpus — Another possibly extinct toad, last seen in December 1994 in Parque Nacional Podocarpus, Ecuador. It is (was) also found in the Piura Region of northern Peru.
  • Atelopus pulcher — A toad found in the upper Río Huallaga drainage of San Martín and Loreto.
  • Atelopus pyrodactylus — A toad known from only one locality along a trail from Los Chilchos to Leymebamba in the San Martín Region.
  • Atelopus reticulatus — A toad known from a single location along the Tingo Mariá to Pucallpa road.
  • Upper Amazon Stubfoot Toad (Atelopus seminiferous) — Found in a location between Balsa Puerto and Moyobamba in San Martín.
  • Gastrotheca zeugocystis — A toad found in the Cordillera de Carpish in the Huánuco Region.
  • Cannatella’s Andes Frog (Hypodactylus lucida) — Found at a high altitude location in the Cordillera Oriental west of the Río Apurimac, Ayacucho Region.
  • Ayacucho Andes Frog (Oreobates pereger) — A critically endangered frog known from the eastern slopes of the Cordillera Oriental and Cordillera Vilcabamba mountain ranges.
  • Phrynopus dagmarae — A frog known from only three mountain peaks: Chaglla, Maraypata and Palma Pampa in the Huánuco Region.
  • Phrynopus heimorum — A frog of the eastern Andean slopes of central Peru in the Huánuco Region.
  • Junin Andes Frog (Phrynopus juninensis) — A frog known from two locations on the Andean slopes of central Peru, in the Junín and Pasco regions.
  • Phrynopus kauneorum — Another frog from the Huánuco Region, known only from Palma Pampa and the Cordillera de Carpish.
  • Peters’ Andes Frog (Phrynopus peruanus) — Frog found in the Vitoc Valley, Junín Region of Peru.
  • Phrynopus tautzorum — Frog found in only one locality in the Ambo Province, Huánuco.
  • Pristimantis pardalinus — Frog found in puna areas of the Tarma Province, Junín.
  • Andes Paramo Frog (Pristimantis simonsii) — Found in puna grassland in the Cajamarca Region of northern Peru.
  • Rhinella chavin — A toad that lives in the cloud forests in the Huánuco Region.
  • Titicaca Water Frog (Telmatobius culeus) — This large amphibian can weigh up to 1 kg. Multiple folds in its skin enable it to breathe underwater, without needing to surface for air. It is found only in Lake Titicaca, but its existence is threatened by pollution and over-collecting for human consumption.
  • Huánaco Water Frog (Telmatobius punctatus) — A semi-aquatic frog that inhabits permanent streams in puna and cloud forests in the Huánuco Region.
  • Tojologue Water Frog (Telmatobius timens) — Found at high altitudes in western Bolivia and southeastern Peru.

More Endangered Species in Peru

As well as the 51 critically endangered species in Peru listed above, there are currently 106 endangered species in Peru (non-critical, for now). You can see all these on this custom list at the IUCN Red List website.

While all of the endangered species on the list are equally as important, some particularly notable entries include:

  • white-bellied spider monkey (Ateles belzebuth)
  • yellow-browed toucanet (Aulacorhynchus huallagae)
  • short-tailed chinchilla (Chinchilla chinchilla)
  • Andean mountain cat (Leopardus jacobita)
  • marvellous spatuletail (Loddigesia mirabilis)
  • grey-backed hawk (Pseudastur occidentalis)
  • giant river otter (Pteronura brasiliensis)
  • long-whiskered owlet (Xenoglaux loweryi)

There’s also the ash-breasted tit-tyrant, who is at the very least worth mentioning for his brilliant name.