The black lion tamarin, scientifically known as Leontopithecus chrysopygus, is one of the rarest and most threatened primate species in the world. It is endemic to the Atlantic Forests of interior São Paulo State and was for many years considered extinct in the wild. Today, the species remains in a precarious state and is listed in the Red Data Book (UICN) as critically threatened with extinction. The main threat to its survival is forest fragmentation and habitat degradation, which leads to population isolation and decline. IPÊ’s Black Lion Tamarin Project has contributed to improve the outlook for the future of the species.
The Black Lion Tamarin Conservation Project was the impetus for IPÊ’s creation and for the Institute’s research and conservation model. Researchers and co-founders have worked for the conservation of tamarins in the Pontal do Paranapanema since 1984.
Since the start of IPE’s activities, many additional initiatives have been undertaken, including basic research on the black lion tamarins’ biology and ecology, environmental education and long-term management for the species. The management plan incorporates populations that are currently isolated (subpopulations) into one large population that is maintained using strategies that promote connectivity, such as forest corridors, translocations, reintroductions and dispersal. This management also includes captive tamarin colonies.
The Black Lion Tamarin Conservation Project seeks to preserve both tamarins and their ecosystem. These primates are thus an umbrella species for the conservation of priority areas, where IPE researchers recuperate degraded forests and/or create corridors that connect fragments with isolated tamarin populations.
Many of these initiatives depend on efficient environmental education programs that convey scientific results in an accessible manner and sensitize the public to the importance of preservation efforts. The Project also aims to establish sustainable development alternatives that generate income and value the local wilderness, thereby contributing improved quality-of-life in local communities and additional partners in conservation.
The following are some results from the Black Lion Tamarin Conservation Project:
• Understanding of the biology/ecology of the species and its distribution;
• Discovery of new subpopulations and new priority areas for the species;
• Updates of population estimates, which increased the known number of wild animals by 50%;
• Influencing public policies for the conservation of the black lion tamarin and the creation of a federal conservation unit (Black Lion Tamarin Ecological Station);
• Studies on specific management techniques for the species (translocation, reintroduction and dispersal);
• Environmental education and community development in five municipalities within the species’ distribution that target distinct audiences: students, teachers, headmasters, and rural and urban communities;
• Training of hundreds of students
• More than ten theses (Master’s and Ph.D.) produced with research results;
Detailed project objectives
a) Monitoring known wild tamarin populations;
b) Analyze the viability of isolated subpopulations and the conservation status of forest fragments sheltering black lion tamarins;
c) Genetic and demographic management of small isolated populations using translocations into protected forests and formation of new groups;
d) Ecological studies on the key resources needed for survival of the tamarins
e) Captive and wild reproduction studies with the species;
f) New conservation management techniques.
Environmental education and community involvement
a) Activities in schools;
b) Activities during celebrations in rural and urban communities;
c) Specific activities for the genus;
d) Projects for alternative income;
e) Training communities and students/professionals.
a) Selection and mapping of priority areas for the conservation of the species;
b) Training in rural communities;
c) Habitat restoration projects (corridors) with urban and rural communities;
d) Monitoring restored areas.
a) Data analysis and drafting reports and scientific articles;
Christoph Knogge, Ph.D
Cícero da Silva & José Wilson Alves. Field assistants
- Chester Zoo
- Disney Conservation Fund
- Instituto Florestal de São Paulo
- Lion Tamarins of Brazil Fund
- The Mohamed bin Zayed Species Conservation Fund
- Wildlife Trust