Save the Snakes Logo

Preliminary conservation status assessment of the Bushmaster Lachesis acrochorda, in the Chocoan region of Ecuador

Through the Save The Snakes Support Grant Program, Save The Snakes supported María Elena Barragán-Paladines in 2023 to increase awareness about snakes in Ecuador. Her project aims to collect data of the Chocoan Bushmaster and to promote education and conservation efforts.

Project Title:

Preliminary conservation status assessment of the Bushmaster, Lachesis acrochorda, in the Chocoan region of Ecuador

Project Summary:

The Chocoan Bushmaster, Lachesis acrochorda, is the only South American Bushmaster species assessed by the IUCN as vulnerable with risk of extinction found in the northwestern Chocoan region of Ecuador. The species’ ecology and behavior have not been studied extensively in the wild, and it is extremely challenging to keep in captivity. Thus, it is urgent to collect data on the natural history and general health of this endemic species.

The goals of the project are to integrate science and society by improving public awareness about the health impact from snakes in the communities in the area of influence, assess the natural history and ecology of the Bushmaster, and assess the general health and reproductive status of a wild population of the Chocoan Bushmaster.

The main outcomes of the project will include the first preliminary data about ecology and natural history; characterization of reproductive and health status, covering aspects such as clinical and hematology parameters and potential infectious agents affecting a wild population of the Chocoan Bushmaster. This information will establish a baseline of the current biological, ecological, and health situation of this viper to be used in in-situ management for future conservation programs and ex-situ conservation efforts. In addition to this, the involvement of local communities will be the starting point to achieve a long-term community-based conservation program.

Aims and Objectives:

Ecuador, despite being one of the seven countries with the greatest diversity of amphibians and reptiles in the world, this country also faces processes of accelerated transformation, due to resource exploitation such as mining, logging, and expansion of the agricultural frontier, among others. The Chocoan Bushmater is listed as a vulnerable species by the IUCN Red List of Reptiles of Ecuador. It is vital to understand the natural history, reproductive and health status to generate relevant technical information to establish mitigation measures for the conservation of the Bushmaster. This will be possible through alliances with communities and government environmental bodies, as well as the establishment of ex-situ species recovery programs. The multi-disciplinary approach of the project will make a huge effort to identify and understand the environmental factors and other additional threats for its conservation.


The goals include the establishment of framework contracts and agreements between parties and members of the project where roles and responsibilities are clearly defined and of an internal goal schedule that will be supervised quarterly to determine execution times and establish adaptive adjustments as needed. Semiannual progress reports and monitoring of the project delivered to the environmental authorities (Ministry of the Environment), where there is clear information about objectives met by each counterpart, creation of a database organized by research areas (biological, ecological, veterinary medicine), and presentations at conferences and publication of peer-reviewed reports and/or manuscripts to describe the methodology used and implications of study results obtained.

Support Snake Conservation

María Elena Barragán-Paladines’ project is a recipient of the 2023 Save The Snakes Support Grant Program. Save The Snakes Support Grants are made possible because of the generosity of compassionate people and organizations who are inspired and dedicated to protect threatened snake populations and mitigate human-snake conflict around the world. Please donate today to help us continue to fund projects like their snake conservation project in Sri Lanka. Thank you for your support.

More to explore