A new bird species, discovered in Brazil in a narrow strip in the Atlantic Forest, on the coast of the northeastern state of Bahia, has already been reported as endangered.
The bird was locally called “macuquinho-preto-baiano” and was cataloged under the scientific name Scytalopus gonzagai, after Luis Gonzaga, from the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro, whose investigations lasted 20 years.
Ornithologist Giovanni Nachtigall Maurício, the main author of the article that describes the species, said that the study estimates the existence of nearly 3 thousand specimens in the area.
“We’ve made a calculation that indicated around 2,888 birds, [which] led [to its being classified as endangered]”, he reported. The assessment entailed the adoption of criteria from the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN).
The general rule stipulates that the species, if totaling up to 2,500 individuals, is considered critically imperiled; from 2,500 to 10,000 just endangered; and vulnerable from 10 to 20 thousand.
Scholars originally believed that the species was a common one, found in the South and Southeast of Brazil. Two expeditions, however, conducted in 2004 and 2006 and supported by NGO Save Brasil, connected with Birdlife International, in the UK, and the Boticário Foundation for the Protection of Nature, respectively, made it possible for them to investigate further in the mountainous region of Bahia and ascertain that the species was a new one.
The project of reintroducing agouties (cutias, in Portuguese) from Campo de Santana, downtown Rio de Janeiro, to the Tijuca National Park is celebrating five years of the successful effort to raise these rodents in this habitat. Some agouties are already in their third generation.
The park’s director, biologist Ernesto Viveiros de Castro, explains that after being captured in Campo de Santana, the animals are given a full physical to see they are fit. After that they go through a period of acclimatization and are then released gradually into the Tijuca park.
“They stay in an enclosure in the park, where they receive food and water during the time of acclimatization. Then we open the enclosure, but we continue giving some dietary supplement till they fully adapt to freedom,” he explained.
Castro says that to reinsert them in nature is important to restore natural processes in the forest. “The agouti has a fundamental role as a seed spreader. As they tend to bury the seeds for later use, they preserve species that depend on this procedure to remain in the area,” said the biologist.
Since 2009, about 20 agoutis were released in the Tijuca forest and today there are about 40 of them. “The population grows and reproduces itself. In fact, we are establishing a population here,” said Castro. He added that the intention is to reintroduce more animals to the city forest while enlarging the area for this effort.
Free in the forests, some species of agoutis receive radio collars. They also are monitored by cameras. The goal is to create a viable population in the long term. The optimal number still depends on studies. These rodents are small and live, on average, up to five years.
Responsible for the project at Universidade Federal Rural do Rio de Janeiro (UFRRJ), biologist Alexandra Patnaik, from the Department of Environmental Sciences of the Institute of Forestry, believes that the initiative should continue, because it ended up generating a larger project, which is the reintroduction of fauna to Rio de Janeiro.
The next step is the reinsertion, starting in 2015, of howler monkeys (bugios, in Portuguese) to the Tijuca National Park. Subsequently, the work will be of to reintroduce antas to the entire state of Rio de Janeiro, especially in the Parque Nacional da Serra dos Órgãos, mountainous region of Rio de Janeiro.
Alexandra reported that the howler monkeys will be taken from particular breeding sites, authorized by the Chico Mendes Institute for Biodiversity Conservation (ICMBio), and the Center of Primatology in Rio de Janeiro.
“Our genetic concern is great, because they have to be of the same species”. In general, are wild animals who were run over or seized from hunters, which are now in sorting centers. She believes that, in this new phase, the number of partners will increase. One of them is the Federal University of Norte Fluminense (UENF).
The agoutis project is being developed by the Tijuca National Park, in partnership with the UFRJ, Universidade Federal Rural do Rio de Janeiro (UFRRJ), parks and Gardens Foundation, Rio Zoo Foundation and Oswaldo Cruz Institute Foundation (Fiocruz).