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First Protection for the Rediscovered Blue-eyed Ground-dove

Brazil

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  • Blue-eyed Ground-dove. Photo by Raphael Bessa

The Critically Endangered Blue-eyed Ground-dove is one of the rarest birds in the world. It disappeared for 75 years and was thought to be possibly extinct until a population was rediscovered in 2015. This rediscovery is one of the most amazing ornithological finds in recent memory.

Rainforest Trust and our local partner Sociedade para a Conservação das Aves do Brasil (SAVE Brasil) now have a unique opportunity to learn about the species’ biology and to save it from extinction. Although extensive searches were conducted throughout the region, the Blue-eyed Ground-dove has only been found in the limited area where it was rediscovered. To ensure the long-term conservation of the Blue-eyed Ground-dove and its unique rocky cerrado habitat, Rainforest Trust and SAVE Brasil are creating a 1,606-acre Reserve to safeguard the only known stronghold of this incredibly endangered bird.

Biodiversity

  • Blue-eyed Ground-dove. Photo by Fabio Olmos

The Critically Endangered Blue-eyed Ground-dove, last scientifically documented in 1941, inhabits the Brazilian cerrado, a savannah with one of the greatest plant diversities in the world with nearly 10,000 species. The region is also considered to be an Important Bird Area, and with the rediscovery of the Blue-eyed Ground-dove it will qualify as a Key Biodiversity Area. During a Rainforest Trust-funded Rapid Protected Area Feasibility Study, the current distribution of the Blue-eyed Ground-dove was documented, along with 75 additional bird species. In addition to the ground-dove, three other endemic and rare bird species are found in the area: the Cinereous Warbling-finch, White-rumped Tanager and Blue Finch.

Challenges

  • The region is threatened by cattle grazing.

The Critically Endangered Blue-eyed Ground-dove does not occur in any protected areas; the only known population is found on private land. The owner originally purchased the target property with the intention to prospect for iron ore. Fortunately, mining has not yet begun and the areas where the ground-dove occurs are still intact. However, there are no guarantees that this critical habitat will remain undisturbed and the species could be lost if mining or other unsustainable activities take place. The region is also threatened by wildfire, grazing, invasive species and fragmentation due to the expansion of agriculture and eucalyptus plantations.

Communities

  • Local Brazilian community. Photo by Eduardo Gomes

The proposed Reserve is located in Minas Gerais, Brazil, with several small towns and a relatively low population density. The main economic activity in the region is agriculture, which includes coffee, bananas, corn, citrus, beans, sugar cane and cassava. Other community members practice cattle ranching, dairy farming and pig farming. The local community has shown interest in conservation activities in the region and SAVE Brasil plans to engage the community to develop a larger protected area centered around the land acquisition property.

Solutions

  • Rocky cerrado habitat of the Blue-eyed Ground-dove. Photo by Eduardo Gomes

Rainforest Trust and our partner SAVE Brasil will purchase 1,606 acres to create a Reserve to safeguard the only known population of the recently rediscovered Critically Endangered Blue-eyed Ground-dove. The private reserve will be fenced and patrolled to dissuade property invasion, illegal activities and habitat disturbance.

The property is proposed to be the core area of a larger state park. The creation of the private reserve will greatly assist the potential declaration of the state park which has been stalled for 17 years and may possibly include an area encompassing over 50,000 acres.