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

Australia Knights Prince Philip, Sparking National Outrage

Abbott's surprise reintroduction of knights and dames in the country's honors system last year drew criticism that he was out of touch with national sentiment More

SAG Award Boosts 'Birdman' Oscar Hopes

Individual acting Oscars appear to be sewn up: SAG awards went to artists who won Golden Globes: Julianne Moore, Eddie Redmayne, Patricia Arquette, J.K. Simmons More

Katy Perry Lights Way for Super Bowl's Girl Power Moment

Pop star's selection to headline US football championship's halftime show extends NFL's trend of selecting artists who appeal to younger viewers 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.
Zoo Animals Show Their Artistic Sidesi
X
June Soh
January 23, 2015 10:03 PM
The pursuit of happiness is so important, America's founding fathers put it in the Declaration of Independence. Any zookeeper will tell you animals need enrichment, just like humans do. So painting, even music are part of the Smithsonian National Zoo's program to keep the animals happy. Faith Lapidus narrates a report from VOA’s June Soh.
Video

Video Zoo Animals Show Their Artistic Sides

The pursuit of happiness is so important, America's founding fathers put it in the Declaration of Independence. Any zookeeper will tell you animals need enrichment, just like humans do. So painting, even music are part of the Smithsonian National Zoo's program to keep the animals happy. Faith Lapidus narrates a report from VOA’s June Soh.
Video

Video Progress, Some Areas of Disagreement in Cuba Talks

U.S. and Cuban officials are reporting progress from initial talks in Havana on re-establishing diplomatic ties. U.S. Assistant Secretary of State (for Western Hemisphere Affairs) Roberta Jacobson said while there was agreement on a broad range of issues, there also are some “profound disagreements” between Washington and Havana. VOA State Department correspondent Pam Dockins has the story.
Video

Video Worldwide Photo Workshops Empower Youth

Last September, 20 young adults from South Sudan took part in a National Geographic Photo Camp. They are among hundreds of students from around the world who have learned how to use a camera to tell the stories of the people in their communities through the powerful medium of photography. Three camp participants talked about their experiences recently on a visit to Washington. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video US, Japan Offer Lessons as Eurozone Launches Huge Stimulus

The Euro currency has fallen sharply after the European Central Bank announced a bigger-than-expected $67 billion-a-month quantitative easing program Thursday - commonly seen as a form of printing new money. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London on whether the move might rescue the eurozone economy -- and what lessons have been learned from similar programs around the world.
Video

Video Nigerian Elections Pose Concern of Potential Conflict in 'Middle Belt'

Nigeria’s north-central state of Kaduna has long been the site of fighting between Muslims and Christians as well as between people of different ethnic groups. As the February elections approach, community and religious leaders are making plans they hope will keep the streets calm after results are announced. Chris Stein reports from the state capital, Kaduna.
Video

Video As Viewership Drops, Obama Puts His Message on YouTube

Ratings reports show President Obama’s State of the Union address this week drew the lowest number of viewers for this annual speech in 15 years. White House officials anticipated this, and the president has decided to take a non-traditional approach to getting his message out. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video S. Korean Businesses Want to End Trade Restrictions With North

Business leaders in South Korea are calling for President Park Geun-hye to ease trade restrictions with North Korea that were put in place in 2010 after the sinking of a South Korean warship.Pro-business groups argue that expanding trade and investment is not only good for business, it is also good for long-term regional peace and security. VOA’s Brian Padden reports.
Video

Video US Marching Bands Grow Into a Show of Their Own

The 2014 Super Bowl halftime show was the most-watched in history - attracting an estimated 115 million viewers. That event featured pop star Bruno Mars. But the halftime show tradition started with marching bands, which still dominate the entertainment at U.S. high school and college American football games. But as Enming Liu reports in this story narrated by Adrianna Zhang, marching bands have grown into a show of their own.

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More

All About America

AppleAndroid

More Americas News

Miss Colombia Takes Miss Universe Crown

Paulina Vega is the first contestant from Colombia to win since 1958
More

Honduran President Hails Drop in Murder Rate

Juan Orlando Hernandez says deployment of special military police has cut country's murder rate, one of the world's highest, by 23 percent
More

Thousands of Venezuelan Opposition Supporters Protest in Caracas

Angry about inflation and shortages of goods, they want an end to the presidency of Nicolas Maduro
More

Haiti Electoral Council Called 'New Step' Toward Democracy

Impoverished Caribbean nation has not held legislative or municipal elections for three years, is due for presidential election at year's end
More

Argentine Government Thinks Rogue Agents Killed Prosecutor

Alberto Nisman, who was investigating the 1994 bombing of a Jewish community center in Buenos Aires, was found fatally shot last Sunday
More

In Shortages-hit Venezuela, Lining Up Becomes a Profession

Job usually involves starting before dawn, enduring long hours, dodging or bribing police, and then selling a coveted spot at front of huge shopping lines
More