Translocation (moving animals from one location to another) is an important tool for wildlife managers. We have been using translocations to help save golden lion tamarins by moving groups of tamarins from small threatened forests to larger uninhabited and protected forests.
The Translocation Program really begin in 1991 when Cecilia Kierulff, as part of her Masters degree, began to survey the historical range of golden lion tamarins to determine where tamarins still remained. These highly fragmented forests had not previously been surveyed so biologists were uncertain of how many tamarins remained in the wild. Cecilia found as many as 14 different forests with golden lion tamarins, most of these small and isolated from other forests. She also found several areas without tamarins but with habitat that might be suitable for them if given the chance. The largest of these was Fazenda União (Union Ranch) and belonged to the Federal Railway Network. It was the largest and best preserved lowland forests of the coastal region of Rio de Janeiro State.
In collaboration with the Brazilian government, Cecilia and fellow student Paula Oliveira began translocation family groups of tamarins from several of the more isolated and threatened reserves to Fazenda União (see map). By 1999 they had translocated 60 tamarins from 11 groups and they began to study to development of this newly formed GLT population.
In the mean time, the Brazilian Environmental Agency (IBAMA) started to negotiate with the Railway Network for Fazenda União, and in 1998 the area was officially transformed into a Federal Biological Reserve. Golden lion tamarins now had two officially protected Reserves to help save the species: Poco das Antas Biological Reserve consisting of 5200 hectares, formed in 1974 and Fazenda União, consisting of 3200 hectares (1 hectare is about 2 acres).
The translocated population of golden lion tamarins is thriving. By the end of 2000, there were 120 tamarins. Eleven groups (90 tamarins) are being regularly monitored but at least five more groups have been observed during encounters with the monitored groups. In five groups, the reproducing male or the female (or both) was born at the União Reserve, so we are now into our second generation of tamarins in this new reserve.
The new translocation population has provided many opportunities for research. Brazilian students are now studying how the tamarins are adjusting to the new habitat, their behavior, diets and group formation.
Read about the translocation program in the article:
Kierulff, M. C. M. and P. P. Oliveira. Re-assessing the status of conservation of the golden lion tamarin Leontopithecus rosalia in the wild. Dodo. 1996; 32(98-115).