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Mohamed bin Zayed Species project number 212527402

Conservation program of a pitviper snake (Bothrops sazimai) endemic to the Atlantic Forest in Brazil

Mohamed bin Zayed Species Conservation (Project No. 212527402) - Jararaca da Ilha dos Franceses - Awarded $10,000 on December 01, 2021

Bothrops sazimai is a pit viper snake species endemic to the Brazilian Atlantic Forest, found on a small island (Ilha dos Franceses) off the coast of Itapemirim,  in Itapemirim, Espírito Santo, southeastern Brazil. Unfortunately, this species is assessed as critically endangered in the state of Espírito Santo, due to habitat loss, environmental degradation, wildlife trafficking, exotic and invasive species, and possible by climate changes. This species is currently not listed on the IUCN Red List, and it is urgent to change the threat status on the world list.

 The information available on B. sazimai is limited to the description of the species (Barbo et al. 2016) and in preliminary data collected by our team, we found an encounter rate of 6 individuals/day, and a density of approximately 1000 individuals with a 1/1 male-to-female ratio, but not we can conclude a population size yet once we sampled only a small portion of the island for a short period of time. Therefore, further efforts are required to obtain consistent data for publication and improve conservation actions for B. sazimai. Additionally, our team tagged 100 individuals with microchips, collected data on the species' spatial distribution, habitat and microhabitat use, assessment of potential pathogens. One of the objectives of our Program in the first stage of this proposal was to preserve a couple of B. sazimai in a research institution to carry out studies and maintain live animals in captivity for reproduction. The snake couple was taken to the Butantan Institute, in São Paulo, however due to sector restrictions, we do not have access to these animals to follow the proposed research in the laboratory. Another important objective proposed in the first stage was the inclusion of this species in the IUCN Red List due to the fulfillment of all the necessary requirements for the classification of B. sazimai as Critically Endangered. This snake is listed on the state Red List, whose analysis was done by one of us (JCFO), however, fellow herpetologists in Brazil are currently performing this threat analysis, according to recent emails.

Thanks to the support of the MBZ Foundation, we have already completed two undergraduate thesis studies, and we are currently collecting data for a master's dissertation. We have also developed a children's game to be applied in schools in the region, and we are producing a series of books about Bothrops sazimai and its habitat.     Recently, our first manuscript, which utilized information about Ilha dos Franceses, has been accepted for publication (Silva-Santos et al. First record of a fossorial snake Genus Trilepida for Ilha dos Franceses, Espírito Santo state, Brazil. Herpetology Notes).

Currently, our main goals are: 

  • tag more individuals with microchips for population monitoring, 
  • collect data on the thermoregulation of the species, 
  • assess whether exotic plants can impact this population, 
  • assess whether climate change is a threat to the species, 
  • investigate the period of activity of this pit viper snake, and use this information to defend the handling with the environmental agencies; 
  • carry out educational actions with the local population of nearby towns and with tour guides who visit the region about snakebite accident prevention; carry out educational activities in schools close to the island, 
  • promoting harmonious coexistence and emphasizing the importance of conservation of species and associated habitats. 
  • Finally, at the end of next year, we will submit the manuscripts with the data collected in these two years of field sampling. 

Accepted manuscript:

First record of a fossorial snake (Genus Trilepida) for Ilha dos Franceses, Espírito Santo state, Brazil. Herpetology Notes, acceptable for publication 20 de june.


*Learn more about the Bothrops sazimai Conservation Program and our Snake Education Project (Convivendo Com Serpentes): https://linktr.ee/convivendoc_serpentes?subscribe 



Project 212527402 location - Brazil, South America