AUSTIN, Texas -- For almost three months, local researchers plunged themselves deep into the Colibri rainforest of southeast Peru.

  • Local researchers are back from a three-month trip to Peru
  • Footage reveals species no one knew for certain lived in the region
  • Austin nonprofit wants to conduct the first mammal survey in Peru

“Off they went and it was uncharted. We had no idea what they were going to find,” founder and CEO of Rainforest Partnership Niyanta Spelman said.

The footage revealed incredibly rare woolly monkeys and Andean spectacled bears that until now no one knew for certain lived there.

“A lot of the literature suggests that they’re not supposed to be there, and the fact that they are tells us that we can't protect what we don't know, and so studying these forests is absolutely imperative before they're degraded even further,” Sean McHugh, a wildlife researcher said.

With video evidence, more steps can be made toward conservation.

“It’s very special to understand that that work is contributing toward something greater and something really helpful to the animals,” Jasmina McKibben, a wildlife documentary filmmaker said.

All of this is part of an effort by the Austin nonprofit Rainforest Partnership to conduct the first mammal survey in that part of the world.

“There has never been a mammal survey done. In fact, there have been very few studies done in this area,” Spelman said.

The discovery of these species is a decisive victory for conservation efforts amidst growing threats of deforestation. Environmentalists can leverage these discoveries in discussions with civic leaders who could impose a sanctuary-like status on the region.

“We're working with the Peruvian government and we're providing our findings to them and we want to make a regional conservation area to increase protection," says McHugh.

The Rainforest Partnership has partner communities across Peru and one in Ecuador.