News / Americas

Brazil’s Coastal Rainforest Suffers Widespread Species Extinction

A yellow-breasted capuchin monkey at Una Biological Reserve in Bahia, Brazil, is a critically-endangered primate targeted by hunters for bush meat. (Photo / Luciano Candisani)
A yellow-breasted capuchin monkey at Una Biological Reserve in Bahia, Brazil, is a critically-endangered primate targeted by hunters for bush meat. (Photo / Luciano Candisani)
Rosanne Skirble
The Atlantic forest in Brazil, once a part of the great Amazon basin on the South American continent, is suffering from widespread species loss according to a new study. 

Ecologist Carlos Peres with England’s University of East Anglia and then University of Cambridge graduate student Gustavo Canale traveled through the region between 2003 and 2005.  They documented 200 of the largest and least disturbed old-growth forest fragments in the vast region of the Atlantic forest

On average, they found only four of the 18 mammal species they were looking for. Canale, now working in Brazil at the State University of Mato Grosso, says he and Peres drew largely on information from wildlife surveys, camera traps, and interviews with local people.

Brazil’s Coastal Rainforest Suffers Widespread Species Extinction
Brazil’s Coastal Rainforest Suffers Widespread Species Extinctioni
|| 0:00:00
...    
🔇
X

The scientists were surprised that even in what looked like healthy forest cover, the larger mammals were absent. 

“The situation was worse than we thought,” Canale said.

“All the charismatic species,”  said Peres, “the large primates, the large ungulates, brocket deer, tapirs, giant anteaters, jaguars, the large cats, all of those things are pretty much gone from even fragments that look on the surface of it, okay, in terms of forest cover.” 

  • The protection of the Atlantic forest is critical for the provision of services for millions, such as clean water, carbon storage, tourism revenue and others. (Credit: Robin Moore/iLCP/Conservation International)
  • The yellow breasted capuchin monkey (S.xanthosternos) at Una Biological Reserve in Bahia, Brazil, is a critically-endangered primate targeted by hunters for bush meat. (Credit: Luciano Candisani)
  • Yellow breasted capuchin monkeys. Mothers are shot to take babies as pets. (Credit: Luciano Candisan)
  • This land in the dry forest of the North Atlantic Forest was deforested for local coal production and is even more threatened than the wet forests of the coastal Atlantic Forest. (Credit: IESB archive)
  • In the Atlantic Forest in Bahia, fire and deforestation of hill slopes are forbidden by Brazilian law, but law enforcement is ineffective. (Credit: IESB archive)
  • This subsistence hunter in the dry forests of the Northeastern Atlantic Forest is looking for mammals like monkeys and large rodents for food. (Credit: Carlos Guidorizzi)
  • These hunters have a taste for bush meat and  either kill for sport or to capture baby monkeys for pets despite laws against it. (Credit: Carlos Guidorizzi)
  • Illegal logging in the Atlantic Forest threatens one of the most biologically rich and yet threatened ecosystems on earth. (Conservation International/Haroldo Castro)
  • Researcher Carlos Guidorizzi is fixing a camera trap with bananas to attract monkeys, raccoons, tayras, and other arboreal and semi-arboreal mammals. (Credit: Gustavo Canale)
  • This puma was captured on a camera trap at the Una Biological Reserve, one of five protected areas that has charismatic species. (Credit: IESB archive)
  • The Muriqui monkey, virtually extinct in the Northeastern Atlantic Forest, is protected in small forest fragments by landowner conservationists. (Credit: Luciano Candisani)
  • The Golden headed Lion Tamarin protected in the Una Biological Reserve, Bahia, is being hunted to extinction for bush meat elsewhere in the Atlantic forest. (Credit: Gustavo Canale)

Hunting is the main driver of species loss on lands fragmented by deforestation. Peres says Brazilian law protects forest cover, but not wildlife in the remnant forest patches. Unless that law is changed, he says, the losses will continue.

“Essentially what we are calling for is a wholesale revision of the Brazilian legislative code that protects wildlife within these remnant  forest patches," he said. "Because these remnant forest patches are essentially going out of business, if you like, in terms of the wildlife.”

In contrast, Peres says, in the five areas that did have laws to protect wildlife and where the laws were strictly enforced, the mammals did much better.

“In those five sites we find the highest degree of retention of those wildlife communities," he said. "So the protected areas are actually working in this region, the problem is that there are very few of them.”

The researchers want to see more such areas established, as well as the creation of wildlife corridors that would link isolated forest patches and keep animals away from hunters and other hazards. But Peres also offers a cautionary message.  He says the fragmented tropical forest isn’t just a problem in the Atlantic forest of eastern Brazil. 

“But I would argue that this is also happening throughout most of the world’s heavily fragmented biodiversity forest hotspots, where overhunting is also widespread,” he said.

"Holding on to the last remaining large tracts of primary forests will be a crucial part of the conservation mission of this century," Peres said. 

His and Gustavo Canale’s study on Brazil’s Atlantic forest is published in this week’s edition of the journal PloS ONE.

You May Like

China’s Influence Grows With New Infrastructure Bank

Multibillion-dollar China-backed and BRICS-supported Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank seen as possible challenger to such lenders as IMF, World Bank More

Video Rabbi Hits Road to Heal Jewish-Muslim Relations in France

Rabbi Michel Serfaty makes the rounds in his friendship bus to encourage dialogue and break down barriers between the two groups More

Post-deal Iran Leaders Need 'Economic Momentum' to Solidify

Economists say deal could inject more than $100 billion into coffers - not enough to entirely rescue ailing economy - but maybe adequate to create 'economic momentum' More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Anonymous
August 15, 2012 10:59 AM
a rainforest is not a profit producing free market enterprise...dufus

by: Jon Garvey from: USA
August 15, 2012 9:53 AM
Too much regulation, right Republicans?

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
US Gay Marriage Ruling Yields Real-life Impacti
X
Michael Bowman
June 28, 2015 10:05 PM
Friday’s landmark Supreme Court decision legalizing same-sex marriage throughout the United States is an outcome few thought possible just years ago, and shows a nation that increasingly tolerates and even celebrates the hopes and aspirations of gay people. VOA’s Michael Bowman spoke to a same-sex couple that will benefit from the high court ruling, and to a Christian scholar who is apprehensive about its potential consequences for America’s faith community.
Video

Video US Gay Marriage Ruling Yields Real-life Impact

Friday’s landmark Supreme Court decision legalizing same-sex marriage throughout the United States is an outcome few thought possible just years ago, and shows a nation that increasingly tolerates and even celebrates the hopes and aspirations of gay people. VOA’s Michael Bowman spoke to a same-sex couple that will benefit from the high court ruling, and to a Christian scholar who is apprehensive about its potential consequences for America’s faith community.
Video

Video Syrians Flee IS Advance in Hasaka

The Syrian government said Monday it has taken back one of several districts in Hasaka overrun by Islamic State militants. But continued fighting elsewhere in the northern city has forced thousands of civilians from their homes. In this report narrated by Bill Rodgers, VOA Kurdish Service reporter Zana Omer describes the scene in Amouda, where some of the displaced are taking refuge.
Video

Video Rabbi Hits Road to Heal Jewish-Muslim Relations in France

France is on high alert after last week's terrorist attack near the city Lyon, just six months after deadly Paris shootings. The attack have added new tensions to relations between French Jews and Muslims. France’s Jewish and Muslim communities also share a common heritage, though, and as far as one French rabbi is concerned, they are destined to be friends. From the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, Lisa Bryant reports about Rabbi Michel Serfaty and his friendship bus.
Video

Video S. Korea Christians Protest Gay Rights Festival

The U.S. Supreme Court decision mandating marriage equality nationwide has energized gay rights supporters around the world. Gay rights remain a highly contentious issue in a key U.S. ally, South Korea, where police did a deft job Sunday of preventing potential clashes between Christian protesters and gay activists. Kurt Achin reports from Seoul.
Video

Video Saudi Leaks Expose ‘Checkbook Diplomacy’ In Battle With Iran

Saudi Arabia’s willingness to wield its oil money on the global diplomatic stage appears to have been laid bare, after the website WikiLeaks published tens of thousands of leaked cables from Riyadh’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Nubians in Kenya Face Land Challenges

East Africa's ethnic Nubians have a rich cultural history that dates back thousands of years, but in Kenya they are facing hardships, including the loss of lands they have lived on for generations. They say the government has reneged on its pledge to award them title deeds for the plots. VOA's Lenny Ruvaga reports.
Video

Video Syrian Refugees Return to Tal Abyad

Syrian refugees in Turkey confirm they left their hometown of Tal Abyad because of intense fighting and coalition airstrikes, not because Kurdish fighters were engaged in ethnic cleansing, as some Turkish officials charged. VOA Kurdish Service reporter Zana Omer, in Tal Abyad, finds that civilians coming back to the town agree, as we hear in this report narrated by Roger Wilkison.
Video

Video Military Experts Question New Russian Tank Capabilities

Russia has been showing off its new tank design – the Armata T-14. Designers claim it is 20 years ahead of current Western designs - and driving it feels like playing a computer game. But military analysts question those assertions, and warn the cost could be too heavy a burden for Russia’s struggling economy. Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video In Kenya, Police Said to Shoot First, Ask Questions Later

An organization that documents torture and extrajudicial killings says Kenyan police were responsible for 1,252 shooting deaths in five cities, including Nairobi, between 2009 and 2014, representing 67 percent of all gun deaths in the areas reviewed. Gabe Joselow has more from Nairobi.
Video

Video In Syrian Crisis, Social Media Offer Small Comforts

Za’atari, a makeshift city in Jordan, may be the only Syrian refugee camp to tweet its activities, in an effort to keep donors motivated as the war in Syria intensifies and the humanitarian crisis deepens. Inside the camp, families say mobile phone applications help hold together families that are physically torn apart. VOA’s Heather Murdock reports.
Video

Video Chemical-Sniffing Technology Fights Australia's Graffiti Vandals

Cities and towns all over the world spend huge amounts of resources battling graffiti writers who deface buildings, public transport vehicles and even monuments. Authorities in Sydney, Australia, hope a new chemical-sniffing technology finally will stop vandals from scribbling on walls in the passenger areas of commuter trains. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Cambodia Struggling to Curb Child Labor

Earlier this year a United Nations report found 10 percent of Cambodian children aged 7-14 are working – one of the highest rates in the region – and said one in four children in that age bracket are forced to quit school to help their families. Although the child labor rate has dropped over the past decade, Cambodia has a lot more to do – including keeping more children in school. Robert Carmichael reports for VOA from Phnom Penh.

VOA Blogs

More Americas News

Obama, Rousseff Try to Put Spy Scandal Behind Them

Two leaders opened two days of talks in Washington on Monday
More

Climate Tops Obama Meeting with Brazil Leader

It is not yet known if Rousseff will announce her country's emissions reduction targets while in Washington
More

Puerto Rico Unable to Pay Its Debts

US territory reportedly is $72 billion in arrears; its bond debt per capita is said to be higher than in any American state
More

US Same-Sex Marriage Ruling Likely to Impact Other Countries

Gay rights activists in many parts of world believe court ruling will help their cause
More

Argentine Judge Orders Seizure of Falklands Drillers' Assets

Country is taking firmer line on disputed territory ahead of October elections
More

US Congressional Delegation Calls for Easing Cuban Restrictions

Nevada Republican Dean Heller says expanded embassy, other changes can be made before Barack Obama leaves office in 2017
More