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Brazilian Merganser (Mergus octosetaceus)

Mohamed bin Zayed Species project number 11252195

Mohamed bin Zayed Species Conservation (Project No. 11252195) - Brazilian Merganser - Awarded $10,000 on August 03, 2011

Our search began in 2012 and continued during 2013, visiting several areas where these species were last seen in the Eastern region of Paraguay:  the river Jeju'i -mi in Mbaracayú Forest Nature Reserve, the Private Reserves Itabó, Carapá and Piratiy, Puerto Irala, as well as the rivers Ypané , Aquidabán and Apa supported by the.

For the implementation of this project an Alliance was created between national and international organizations that collaborate during our expeditions: the Moises Bertoni Foundation (FMB) , the Geographical Society of Paraguay , Itaipu Binational , BirdLife International and the Arquivo Sonoro Prof. Elias Coelho Pacheco De Bioacoustics Laboratory, Department of Zoology - Federal University of Rio de Janeiro.
Every field trip was challenging and certainly and adventure, especially the River Jejui'i -mi, where pristine forest of Mbaracayú isolated the team all external contact.  The second trip was named the Ypané-Aquidabán and Apa Expedition where we navigated 93 km. of rivers in the Departments of Amambay and Concepcion, with two teams, the aquatic crew was composed of 3 boats, and terrestrial crew accompanied the boats on land for any necessary support.

The Ypané River turned out to be quite dangerous, enough to drow the team in one boats to the river, but of course this did not not stop the search! Although some equipment was severely damaged. Fortunatelly, the Aquidabán river was more calm, but the Apa river presented again new challenges.

Our project´s intention was to find the dove merganser (Mergus octosetaceus) and purple –winged ground dove (Claravus godefrida) which used to inhabit the higly endangered Upper Parana Atlantic forest in Paraguay. However, the loss of more than 90 % of forest cover due to the expansion of cattle ranching and agriculture had severely impacted these species. Both species are categorized as CR (Critically endangered) by the UICN´s Redlist mainly because of habitat loss and pollution of rivers. Currently the only stable population of the Merganser is in the Serra da Canastra National Park in Brazil and in recent years there have been new records in Argentina. In Paraguay the species was last seen in 1983.

The dove home is threatened with extinction worldwide and it is a very poorly known species. In Paraguay it was last recorded at Estancia Itabó in 1992 by the English ornithologist Rob Clay. Among the most obvious threat is the loss of the Upper Parana Atlantic Forest , and loss of protective forests rivers.

Unfortunately and despite our efforts, we have not seen either of the species. Nevertheless, we will continue our search, with the help of our partners and hopefully, we will find the species again in our country.

Project 11252195 location - Paraguay, South America