A Splash of Hope: Cherry-throated Tanager Gets New Protected Area in Bid to Dodge Extinction

The Cherry-throated Tanager, by Ciro Albano/NE Brazil Birding

A partnership among Rainforest Trust, American Bird Conservancy and Brazilian conservation organization Instituto Marcos Daniel has established a 704-acre protected area of primary Brazilian Atlantic Forest—the latest success in the organizations’ work to save the last work to save the last population of the Critically Endangered Cherry-throated Tanager from extinction.

The Cherry-throated Tanager had only been seen once after its discovery in 1870 and was believed to be extinct until 1998, when a small population was rediscovered in the Brazilian Atlantic Forest. The bird spends the majority of its life high in the rainforest canopy, searching for insects among the branches. Rampant agricultural conversion has forced it to live in highly fragmented habitat that is now also threatened by urban encroachment. Conservationists estimate that only 17 individual birds may remain.

“Securing critical habitat for the Cherry-throated Tanager is both an occasion for celebration and a cause for optimism,” explained Bennett Hennessey, ABC’s Brazil conservation program coordinator. “If we can save this tanager, which was unseen for many years but is now regularly spotted and surveyed, then we can save other imperiled species whose appearances have become less frequent. We aim to replicate this success across the Americas.”


Conservationists estimate that only


individual birds may remain.

“Protecting the birds of Brazil has been a conservation priority for Rainforest Trust for many years,” said James Deutsch, CEO of Rainforest Trust. “Not only is this critically important habitat by its own right but it also plays an important role in increasing connectivity with nearby reserves for birds and other animals.”

The region is a prime location and priority for bird conservation. In addition to the Cherry-throated Tanager, the Endangered Vinaceous-breasted Amazon and several Vulnerable species — the White-bearded Antshrike, Golden-tailed Parrotlet, and Brown-backed Parrotlet — are all found in the same area. The site also provides essential habitat for the Critically Endangered Buffy-headed Marmoset; populations of the little-known and Near Threatened Brazilian Golden Frog are also in the area.

Now that the land is protected, Instituto Marcos Daniel will develop a strategic plan for species conservation, including monitoring Cherry-throated Tanager populations. This reserve will open a path to protect the entire forested area for all species. A financial sustainability plan will also be developed for the reserve, featuring public use for birdwatching activities, scientific tourism and research, and a hotel to host visitors from around the world.

“The Cherry-throated Tanager is one of the rarest birds on the planet. It is hugely gratifying to collaborate in partnership with other groups like Rainforest Trust and Instituto Marcos Daniel to conserve this and other endangered species,” said Daniel Lebbin, ABC’s vice president of threatened species.

Cherry-throated Tanager
The Cherry-throated Tanager

“We’re excited to be able to continue to monitor this region and record the numbers of birds and other animals — and hopefully watch a comeback of many threatened species,” Deutsch added.

ABC would like to acknowledge support for this project from David and Patricia Davidson, George and Cathy Ledec, Kathy Burger, Marcia Rebmann, Lenton PARKS Fund, Larry Thompson, George Powell, George Jett, Bert Harris, an anonymous donor, and the estate of Mary Janvrin.

For more information about our Cherry-throated Tanager project.

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