The golden lion tamarin (Leontopithecus rosalia): a flagship species for the Atlantic Forest of Brazil
Keywordsdeforestation, conservation, Leontopithecus rosalia, golden lion tamarin, Golden Lion Tamarin Conservation Program, Atlantic Forest, captive breeding, reintroduction, translocation, conservation education, metapopulation management, habitat protection
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AbstractDeforestation has a major impact on forest-dwelling species survival, as species lose their habitat or can no longer subsist in the small fragments of forests that are left. In this review, the effectiveness of the golden lion tamarin (Leontopithecus rosalia) as a flagship species to protect the biodiversity of the Atlantic Forest is discussed. The golden lion tamarin was almost extinct in the wild in the 1960s and the captive population was not well established. After research on captive breeding biology, the captive population began to grow in the 1970s and the Poço das Antas Biological Reserve was created to protect the species in the wild. In the 1980s, long-term research was started on the ecology and behavior of golden lion tamarins, along with a reintroduction program of captive-born animals and community environmental education. Zoos contributed the 146 captive-born reintroduced tamarins, and provided critical information on social behavior, nutrition and health used for reintroduction strategies. In 1994, 6 threatened groups that were isolated in small fragments were rescued and translocated to a protected forest. Both translocation and reintroduction programs have been successful as measured by survival and reproduction after release, and both established growing populations, as well as protected habitat. Furthermore, conservation education and habitat restoration have resulted in the development of forest corridors to connect the remaining habitat fragments, allowing dispersal of golden lion tamarins. By saving the golden lion tamarin, more than 12,000 ha of Atlantic Forest is now protected by federal law and with this habitat, many other species are also protected. The Golden Lion Tamarin Conservation Program can serve as a model for conservation activities worldwide, as the program integrates field and captive conservation efforts and shows how extensive research is able to contribute to effective conservation and education activities.