Sighting Provides Hope for Primate Reintroduction Project

capuchin monkey Ecuadorian Capuchin spotted April 18 © Michael Bauer
Buenaventura Panorama - Copy Buenaventura Reserve © David Agro
Ecuadorian capuchin2 Ecuadorian Capuchin © Wikipedia

April 28, 2014

With the recent sighting of a critically endangered Ecuadorian Capuchin monkey in Ecuador’s Buenaventura Reserve, there is new evidence that the Reserve’s reintroduction program is succeeding.

Michael Bauer, an ornithologist studying endemic bird species, spotted the monkey on April 18th in the upper elevations of the Reserve. The individual, known as Mikey, appeared healthy and showed signs of having adapted to life in the wild.

The reintroduction program is an important effort to help the Ecuadorian Capuchin population rebound. Within the last 50 years, more than 80% of the primate’s natural habitat has been destroyed. This catastrophic loss, combined with the effects of hunting and illegal trafficking, have dramatically reduced the population of the species.

In 2010, Rainforest Trust’s Ecuadorian partner Jocotoco initiated a project to re-establish a population of Ecuadorian Capuchins in the Buenaventura Reserve. At that time, Ecuadorian Capuchins had not been seen in the area for nearly 20 years.

A group of 13 were transported to the Reserve from two rescue centers, the Cerro Blanco Forest Foundation and the Zoological Garden of Guayaquil, with the primates initially kept in an enclosure until adapted to their new environment.

After release in 2011, the monkeys began to move deeper into the Reserve and became increasingly difficult to find. The recent sighting is an encouraging sign that they have succeeded in learning to survive in natural surroundings.

Restricted to the western portion of Ecuador, Ecuadorian Capuchins inhabit forested areas from sea level to elevations of 6,000 feet in the Andean foothills. The Buenaventura Reserve, managed by Jocotoco, is one of the few protected areas providing sanctuary for the Ecuadorian Capuchin.

Despite the many challenges facing the Ecuadorian Capuchin, there is reason to hope for its future. The species is highly adaptable and can subsist on a wide assortment of foods in a variety of habitats. Once adequately protected, fragmented populations can expand their range and repopulate new areas.

Amazon Parrots take Refuge at REGUA

Orange-winged parrot Orange-winged Parrot © Daniel Mello
orange-winged parrot2 Orange-winged Parrot in flight © Gabriel Mello
REGUA rainforest REGUA rainforest © REGUA

April 15, 2014

By Nicholas Locke, REGUA Project Manager

Life is not easy for large Amazon parrots in Brazil, as they are constant targets for poachers hoping to profit from the illegal animal trade. In the Atlantic Rainforest, where REGUA (Rainforest Trust’s Brazilian partner) is situated, populations of these birds have crashed following massive forest loss. Making things worse, in recent years the increased popularity and extraction of heart of palms has reduced food sources for Amazon parrots.

The threatened Red-browed Amazon (Amazona rhodocorypha), whose range once covered much of the northern Atlantic Rainforest, is now found only the state of Espírito Santo. Likewise, the endangered Red-tailed Amazon (Amazona brasiliensis), once dispersed throughout the entire southern Atlantic Rainforest, is currently confined to a few islands off the coast of Brazil’s Paraná state.

With the dramatic loss of these species, the Orange-winged Amazon is the only Amazon parrot still regularly seen. But even populations of this parrot have dropped significantly. They are hunted as a food source and captured as pets. In the early 1980’s alone, it is believed that as many as 66,000 were captured and sold as pets.

In a promising sign of improved conditions, a group of six Orange-winged Amazons has made the REGUA Reserve its home.

The parrots, which are using a dead palm tree with woodpecker-carved holes as a nesting site, are heard conversing gregariously in the early hours of the morning or late afternoon. One individual still has the remains of a chain around his foot, a reminder of former days in captivity.

Members of the group have formed couples – reflecting the fact that they mate for life – and are now raising chicks.

This is a positive sign that conditions are improving for the species, and we hope that the Orange-winged Amazon population will continue to increase in response to the protection our Reserve provides for it and other threatened wildlife populations in the Atlantic Rainforest.

Rainforest Trust Joins AmazonSmile Program

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April 11, 2014

Rainforest Trust supporters have a new way to help protect rainforests online. Rainforest Trust is now a registered charity with Amazon.com’s AmazonSmile program, which means that Amazon customers can support the organization each time they shop on the site.

Once enrolled in the AmazonSmile program, shoppers will have the option to choose Rainforest Trust as their preferred charity. Upon selection, the organization will receive 0.5% of all approved purchases.

AmazonSmile offers visitors the same experience and shopping options as Amazon.com but has a different web address: www.smile.amazon.com

“AmazonSmile makes it easy for supporters to incorporate rainforest protection into their online shopping routine,” said Malissa Cadwallader, Development Director for Rainforest Trust. “We are going to see some great results as the Rainforest Trust community learns about our association with AmazonSmile and signs up to participate. Like all donations, funds from AmazonSmile will go towards saving our planet’s irreplaceable biodiversity.”

Enrolling in AmazonSmile is a simple process. To consistently access the site, it’s suggested that visitors update bookmarks from www.amazon.com to www.smile.amazon.com. More information about the program is available at AmazonSmile.