The spectacled bear, the species on which the character Paddington Bear is based, gets its name from the yellowish-white marks around its eyes that can look like a pair of glasses.
It's South America's only bear species and lives in the mountainous regions and dry forests stretching from Venezuela as far south as Bolivia.
But the bears face an uncertain future as populations are in decline. The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), which lists the species as vulnerable, estimates that fewer than 10,000 individuals remain across the entire continent. The main threats are habitat loss, climate change and human-bear conflict. Credit: SBC
Spectacled bears usually feed on shoots and fruit, but some -- like this one photographed by a camera trap in Peru -- are starving. This can lead to them killing livestock, which leads to farmers killing bears in retaliation. Credit: SBC
The dry forests where some bear populations are found, such as in Peru (pictured) and other regions, are critically endangered. The open and arid landscape is becoming increasingly fragmented and is vulnerable to extreme weather events such as drought or flooding. Credit: Michell Leon
Typically timid and elusive mammals, little is known about the species. But there are efforts to discover more about the creatures and protect them. The Spectacled Bear Conservation Society (SBC) based in Peru is working to create and maintain protected areas of pristine habitat through the bears' range. Credit: SBC
Direct photos of the bears are rare and extremely difficult to acquire, with researchers usually relying on discreet camera traps instead. But through more than a decade of intensive field work, the SBC is helping to showcase the species up close. Credit: SBC