Conservation Acquisition for Endangered Dove Inspires New Brazilian Park

Alyssa Wiltse-Ahmad

Jul 27, 2018

NewsProtected AreasSpeciesUncategorized

Thanks to efforts taken by Rainforest Trust, the government of Brazil’s Minas Gerais state just designated 88,174 acres — about twice the size as Washington, DC — as the new Botumirim State Park to protect the unique cerrado habitat. The cerrado, the most rapidly disappearing habitat in the country, is home to the Critically Endangered – and once thought extinct – Blue-eyed Ground-dove.

  • Critically Endangered Blue-eyed Ground-dove. Photo courtesy of Rafael Bessa.

“It is great to see our long-term strategy to protect this spectacular dove has paid off with the designation of this new state park,” said Rainforest Trust CEO Paul Salaman.

“Building on our land purchase with SAVE Brasil, this significant expansion will not only safeguard the core Blue-eyed Ground-dove population, but it will also allow habitat around it to recover and the dove to rebound and thrive in the future.”

Rainforest Trust’s work to establish the first protection ever for the rediscovered Blue-eyed Ground-dove in 2017 raised awareness of both the bird’s existence and its need for protection, leading the government to make this fateful decision.

On October 23, 2017, Rainforest Trust teamed up with our local partner Sociedade para a Conservação das Aves do Brasil (SAVE Brasil) to purchase 1,606 acres of cerrado habitat, forming the Blue-eyed Ground-Dove Nature Reserve.

The Blue-eyed Ground-dove is one of the rarest birds in the world. It had been lost for 75 years until a population was rediscovered in 2015 by an independent ornithologist. Collaborating with SAVE Brasil and Rainforest Trust, a research group undertook an intensive survey for the species and created a comprehensive conservation plan. Although this rediscovery was one of the most amazing ornithological finds in recent memory, before these efforts, this highly threatened bird had no protection and was at grave risk.

  • The unique cerrado habitat of the Blue-eyed Ground-dove. Photo courtesy of Eduardo Gomes.

“In an urgent bid to save this beautiful dove, we supported searches to locate other populations in the hope it was already protected. But after intensive searches, it was clear that just one private property being sold for development contained the vast majority of all surviving individuals. With our partner SAVE Brasil we acted swiftly to purchase this property and permanently safeguard the species,” Salaman said after completing the first land purchase last year.

On July 6, the Minas Gerais government recognized the work of Rainforest Trust and SAVE Brasil and expanded protection of the cerrado habitat to further safeguard this incredible bird.