REGUA’s new project to reintroduce the Black-fronted Piping-Guan Aburria jacutinga is gaining momentum with the arrival of the project’s general co-ordinator, Alecsandra Tassoni.
Alecsandra is a biologist specialized in wild animal husbandry and has experience working with commercial breeding projects. She realised that this was not where her future lay and is now working for SAVE Brasil, a non-profit organisation and a member of the BirdLife International partnership, to help conserve birds and their habitats. REGUA is one of four sites that have been chosen for the reintroductions project because of the quality of the forest and the protection our rangers provide.
The birds chosen for release will come from private breeding centres and the project will be licensed by IBAMA, the federal agency. Forty birds will be released over the first two years of the project and there will be a further two years of monitoring.
Five birds will have transmitters attached, which have been provided by the project’s financial backers – the Fundação Grupo Boticário de Proteção à Natureza. The transmitter batteries will last between 18 months to two years, and this alongside more traditional methods of tracking, will be carried out by a second member of the team, biologist Livia Dias, with the help of one of REGUA’s Rangers.
The first task is to ensure that the release pen, previously used for the Red-billed Curassow Crax blumenbachii reintroduction project, is viable. As the Black-fronted Piping-Guan is an arboreal species the pen will need to have the entrance and exit at the top, and food and drink will need to be supplied there too; ensuring the birds do not start to go to the ground, where they would be vulnerable. During their time in the pen the birds will also be trained to protect themselves from potential predators by playing raptor and other predator sounds. After a short time, the pen will be left open for a “soft release”.
With a possibility of two to four eggs from each female per year, Alecsandra is hopeful that we will see evidence of repopulation relatively quickly. In view of this, the team has already started with their environmental education programme, ensuring that all local communities are aware of the project, with visits to local schools and community groups.
In addition, Black-fronted Piping-Guans provide an excellent seed dispersal service for a healthy and diverse forest, with a diet of over 40 different fruits including Heart of Palm seeds, and will be a fantastic addition to the REGUA forest.