Black-faced Lion Tamarin (Leontopithecus caissara)
Mohamed bin Zayed Species project number 0925378
The Black-Faced Lion Tamarin (BFLT), Leontopithecus caissara, is the only lion tamarin listed as critically endangered in the IUCN Red List (IUCN 2010). This conservation status results of its small population size estimated at about 400 individuals (AMARAL et al. 2003) and a geographic distribution of less than 300 km² in the coastal Atlantic forest of the states of São Paulo (extreme southeast) and Paraná (northeast) in Brazil (LORINI and PERSSON 1994; PRADO et al. 2003; SCHMIDLIN 2004). This geographically restricted habitat is part of the most significant remaining fragment of Brazilian Atlantic Rainforest, a conservation hotspot area and one of the four priorities conservation biomes of the world (MYERS et al. 2000; MITTERMEIER et al. 2004). The superposition of the species' geographic range and the distribution of the few remaining fragments of Atlantic forest makes this species' condition even more special, since the species occurs only in lowland coastal areas, on the last significant remain of lowland coastal Atlantic Rainforest at the southeast of Brazil.
Efforts to promote the survival of the species and its habitat resulted in the long-term "Black-faced lion tamarin Conservation Program", which integrates actions in biodiversity conservation and local sustainable development in one of the poorest regions of the southeast of Brazil. This conservation program has the mission to change the species critically endangered status, maintaining the quality and quantity of the habitat for the long-term, and using the species as a flagship for an extensive environmental educational program in concern with the development of sustainable economic practices.
This project had a relevant role on our program, since it's fulfills ecological gaps highlighted by the species conservation action plan (HOLST et al., 2006). Our partnership with Mohammed bin Zayed Species Conservation Fund has allowed us to: I) Incorporate "climate change" in our conservation efforts, including this issue in our environmental education activities and connecting it with the local reality always that is possible, especially at the local inhabitants' association meetings; II) Keep monitoring two groups of black-faced lion tamarins, observing one dispersal event, which contributed to our overall understanding of L. caissara as a species whose large home ranges are compensated by its dynamic use of space (NASCIMENTO 2008, NASCIMENTO et al. in press.); IV) Carried out surveys at the narrow lowland passage among mainland populations and at the foothill areas on Ariri region; noticing the species presence only at altitudes lower than 40 meters from the sea level, this finding strengthen the species restrict geographic distribution at less then 300 km² of lowland coastal forest; V) obtain valuable data - on demographic and spatial ecology - to improve the species Population and Habitat Viability Analysis (PHVA).
Besides the progress of the ecological and biological research we have been able to attract important local leaders, who have shown commitment to the conservation cause and become our allies in many instances we needed support. This has greatly enhanced our chances to get more involved in decisions that favor conservation and have allowed us to propose sustainable alternatives for local residents. We still have a great deal to be done to achieve our BFLT Conservation Program mission, but we strongly believe that we are on the right path. We are glad that the MBZ Species Conservation Fund has jointed to us, making possible to get closer to our conservation vision.
Project 0925378 location - Brazil, South America