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mountain marmosets conservation program

about mmcp

The Mountain Marmoset Conservation Program that you see today has evolved from the realization that interactions between native and invasive marmoset species in Serra dos Órgãos National Park were resulting in territory losses and hybridization!

The development of a conservation program began in 2014 and now encompasses participants from many institutions and communities. Through the significant progress in developing a conservation program for the Buffy tufted-ear marmoset (C. aurita), Dr. Rodrigo Salles de Carvalho has progressed the program to include the Buffy headed marmoset (C. flaviceps)

MMCP would like to thank Dr. Joanna Malukiewicz, Dr. Fabiano Melo and Dr. Renato Hilário; researchers who made a significant contribution to supporting and progressing research tasks and data collection into the Buffy headed marmoset (C. flaviceps). Their research, insight and concern for the species was a decisive factor in expanding the conservation program to include this species.

Early beginnings...

Since 2012, there has been an increase in research by various Brazilian and International primatologists focused on Buffy tufted-ear marmoset (C. aurita). A number of surveys caused concerned questions about the species situation and more serious considerations about an escalating threat from invasive marmoset species! Dr. Rodrigo Salles de Carvalho further expanded field research on C aurita during his PHD and became determined and focused on what could be done to safeguard the Buffy tufted-eared marmoset from the very strong possibility of extinction in the wild! Read more>>

In April 2014 Dr. Rodrigo Salles de Carvalho attended the first international workshop for Captive Husbandry and Conservation of Callitrichid that was held at the Center of Primatology of Rio de Janeiro (CPRJ / INEA). The international workshop was a Durrell initiative to galvanize conservation efforts with tamarins and marmosets through networking and sharing expertise. The invitation from ICMBio to facilitate the workshop created the opportunity for international experts collaborate with a wide range of Brazilian institutions who wanted to expand their knowledge and methodology to achieve successful conservation actions.

During the workshop the process for implementing a broad conservation program for the Buffy tufted-ear marmoset began; lead by Dr. Rodrigo Salles de Carvalho, a Brazilian primatologist who believed that there was an opportunity to build a collaborative conservation program combining the different national and international institutions interested in conserving Callithrix aurita.


The first actions of the collaborative initiative were:

  • Focus on rapid survey work to collect additional data and information about the status of the species in the wild (distribution and conservation threats.) 

  • Review the situation of the captive breeding initiative that had been established in 1982 when the Rio de Janeiro Primatology Center (Centro de Primatologia do Rio de Janeiro (CPRJ) responded to concerns about its status in the wild.

  • Raising the Buffy tufted-eared marmosets profile in the PAN for the Atlantic rainforest

milestones and achievements

Surveys since October 2015

Surveys have received the support of ICMBio, and three international institutions: Beauval Nature; Association Française des Parcs Zoologiques and the Margot Marsh Biodiversity Foundation.

​The outcomes of these surveys strongly reinforce the need for urgent actions to tackle the hybrid marmoset populations in

the Buffy tufted-ear marmosets (C. auritas)  range and expand the Conservation Breeding initiative in order to conserve a viable gene pool of pure bred species.

2015 São Paulo State establish additional State specific objectives lead by Marcio Port Carvalho

In March 2015, São Paulo State (SP) took the initiative of drafting its own conservation plan for C. aurita. The plan drafted by the Permanent Protection Committee of the Primates of the State of São Paulo (Brazil, São Paulo, 2014) embodied the key objectives and added five State specific objectives:  

  • Develop a phenotypic identification key for C. aurita using published data and expertise of primate specialists

  • Elaborate an Action Plan for C. aurita conservation in São Paulo

  • Implement outreach and environmental education activities aimed at marmoset conservation

  • Implement management actions for C. aurita meta-populations insitu

  • Manage critical areas with introduced and/or hybrid marmoset populations

  • Conduct research on C. aurita genetic diversity and hybridization with exotic congeners.

Another important initiative is a legislative proposal by the state of São Paulo, which has been under consideration by the office of the state’s Environmental Secretary since 2016 to establish reproductive restrictions for allochthonous Callithrix legally held in captivity within São Paulo, in order to reduce surplus, legally-captive marmosets and reduce undue releases of exotic Callithrix into the wild.

2015 Studbook for Buffy tufted-ear marmoset (Callithrix aurita

The creation of a studbook for the captive population was achieved at the 2nd Callitrichid Conservation Management Workshop, held in Manaus, in November 2015.  Support and guidance with this task came from the Golden Lion Tamarin International Studbook keeper, Dr. Jennifer Mickelberg of Zoo Atlanta, the studbook is managed by Claudia Igayara, Guarulhos Zoo. There are very few C. aurita currently in captivity and it is imperative that the growth of this small population is managed in such a way that its genetic diversity is maximised. Read more>>

Genetic and genomic studies

These begun in 2011 in order to genetically identify the native species, invasive species and hybrids and assess the levels of biodiversity of the Buffy tufted-ear marmoset inside its occurrence area. Carvalho (2015) conducted one of the first genetic studies of the Buffy tufted-ear marmoset (C. aurita), the study was focused on marmoset populations in the States of São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro.

Currently, a project is underway to assess genetic diversity of C. aurita over the entire mtDNA genome. Further, plans are being formulated to create a draft version of the nuclear C. aurita genome, and study introgression of C. jacchus and C. penicillata genomes into that of C. aurita (J. Malukiewicz and R. Carvalho, pers. comm.). Such genomic data will be important for future considerations of creating areas to conserve wild C. aurita populations and translocation of any such populations.


The Buffy headed marmoset (C. flaviceps) has been on the IUCN Red List as Endangered for over 36 years and  There is an urgent need for a rapid survey program and potentially there will be an equally urgent need to implement a high priority captive breeding population. Read more>>

The future...

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Formulating and progressing an effective conservation program involves many stakeholders who  contribute to the overreaching conservation plan for the species.


There are always many things being progressed at any one time, many of the people and organizations who are involved with conserving the Buffy-tufted ear marmoset (Callithrix aurita) will now become involved with developing a conservation program for the Buffy headed marmoset (Callithrix flaviceps). Undoubtedly the network of stakeholders will expand with the addition of a new species; new researchers, biologists, primatologists and local communities will be invaluable as the Mountain Marmoset Conservation Program furthers its mission to conserve these two important primates for future generations.

The MMCP is now moving forwards to a phase where community engagement and developing communication strategies is of paramount importance in progressing the conservation program. The serious nature of the threats to both species survival in their natural habitat needs a strong voice:


Communities need to be motivated into action, international conservation support needs encouragement, if people do not know that there is a problem, how can we hope to change behaviors and attitudes that are allowing threats to species survival to continue unabated.  

Find out more about

Conservation Initiatives and Strategies

our priorities


The MMCP is now moving forwards to a phase where community engagement and developing communication strategies is of paramount importance in progressing PAN objectives.

The serious nature of the threats to both species survival in their natural habitat needs a strong voice: Communities need to be motivated into action, international conservation support needs encouragement!

If people do not know that there is a problem how can we hope to persuade them to change behaviors and attitudes that threaten a species survival?

Get involved >>

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