NGO ORGANIZES EFFORT TO PROTECT MICO SPECIES AT EXTINCTION RISK
There has recently been some excellent media coverage of our conservation program (known locally in Brazil as PCSS) with 3 online articles and a feature in the Tribuna de Petrópolis newspaper about the ongoing research and threats to the buffy tufted-ear marmoset (C. aurita) and a well deserved spotlight for Alessandro Antunes who does a lot environmental education engagement work. Enjoy reading the article translation and if anyone questions the use of ‘mico’ don’t panic, you haven’t missed any groundbreaking genetic changes, ‘mico’ is the Brazilian term used by the general public for all marmoset species We are very pleased with such positive media coverage, a great start to our media campaign!
The presence of marmosets has become more frequent in the city. Although Petropolitans are accustomed to seeing them on the walls of houses, and even wandering along the overhead cables and scampering up the supporting poles, the white-tufted marmosets (Callithrix jacchus) are not native to this region, not even the black tufted marmosets (Callithrix penicillata), which are usually seen in the gardens of the Imperial Museum, are from here. The only species of marmoset native to the Montane Region is unfortunately threatened, the buffy tufted-ear marmoset (Callithrix aurita).
A task force has been formed to try to preserve this species and protect it from the threat of extinction. A group of researchers from the Saguis-da-Serra Conservation Program (PCSS) are carrying out mapping and collecting habitat identification and species distribution data in the Brazilian highlands.
Buffy tufted-ear marmoset are primates native to the Atlantic Rainforest of the Southeast and live in the mountainous regions of Rio de Janeiro, São Paulo and Minas Gerais. Researcher Rodrigo Salles de Carvalho explained that the threat of extinction of the marmosets occurs due to the enormous loss of their natural habitat, the Atlantic Forest, and because of invasive species of marmosets that come from regions of the northeast and center-west. Because they do not adapt to living with humans, they end up losing what little chance they have.
The PCSS is part of the NGO Environmental Education Program (PREA) and is part of the new National Action Plan for the Primates of the Atlantic Rainforest and the maned Sloth (PAN-PPMA) launched in 2018 by the Chico Mendes Institute for Biodiversity Conservation (ICMBio). The program focuses on the conservation of two species of endangered marmosets, the buffy tufted-ear marmoset (Callithrix aurita) and Callithrix flaviceps, which are native to the Atlantic Forest.
The group of researchers started mapping about six years ago in the Serra dos Órgãos National Park (PARNASO). Researchers observed that with the arrival of white-tufted marmosets and black-tufted marmosets, the number of native marmosets declined significantly. "These animals come from other places, they reproduce uncontrollably, and tinker with the local ecosystem. They feed on bird eggs and have habits that also harm other species"said the researcher. At this stage of the research, families of marmosets were identified in PARNASO, in the Araras Biological Reserve, and in the Tinguá Biological Reserve. The purpose of this mapping is to create public policies that help preserve the species, such as the creation of protected reserves and species conservation centers. Nova Friburgo, one of the first places to receive the researchers, took an important step as a result of this work, in August 2017 a decree was created declaring the buffy tufted-ear marmoset (Callithrix aurita) biodiversity patrimony of the city of Nova Friburgo, besides to determine measures of environmental education, actions to promote the preservation of the species.
NGO PREA maintains a programme of environmental education coordinated by PCSS in Petrópolis. Dynamic lectures, games, theatre, and other pedagogical activities are carried out with the aim of bringing to children and young people lessons about respect and preservation of the environment.
"Through games and other educational materials, students get to know the species and learn how to preserve the ecosystem. From the children and young people we try to make a social mobilization in favor of the preservation of the threatened species" said Alessandro Antunes, PREA's environmental education coordinator. In Petrópolis, students from the first to fifth year of the Application College of the Catholic University were the first to participate in the project activities, but the initiative is just beginning and needs financial support to continue.
The research has been sponsored by the French institutions Beauval Nature and the French Association of Zoological Parks and, in addition to the members of the PREA, researchers from the PCSS of the Federal University of Viçosa are participating in the research.
"The Sagui is not just an NGO project, the Sagui is for all of us. Extinction of species deteriorates the ecosystem of everyone. Environmental education is fundamental to mobilize civil society for the preservation of species" added Alessandro.