Category Archives: Reintroduction


Whilst on holiday in the southern Amazon area, I came across a muddy path with these Tapir tracks.   The animals move through the forest looking for muddy pools and water holes, making tunnel-like paths.   They feed on the lush growth promoted by these wet areas.

Tapir print
Tapir print (© Sue Healey)

As they move around their territory, they defecate,  depositing seeds they have consumed.   This promotes future plant growth and increased diversity of plant species throughout the forest.

Its exciting to think that we will have these tracks around REGUA in the not too distant future with our re-introduction project.

For more information about the Tapir re-introduction project see our Mammal page.

Black-fronted Piping-Guan

One of the most important aspects of any reintroduction programme is the education of the local community.    Part of the Black-fronted Piping-guan re-introduction project comprises a series of Teacher Training Courses for local schools.

Alecsandra Tassoni from SAVE Brasil (BirdLife International branch) recently held the first of a series of these courses at REGUA.    The event was attended by 15 teachers from three neighbouring schools in Guapiaçu, Matumbo and Funchal.

Alecsandra Tassoni (5th from right back row) with Raquel Locke (centre front) and local Teachers. (© REGUA)

The aim of these courses is to introduce this charismatic bird to local school teachers, and explain the background to the re-introduction, with details of its conservation status, its ecological role and the need to protect existing forests to guarantee the perpetuation of this and all species.

The teachers were keen to know abut the project and the importance of this bird to the biodiversity of the forest, and were delighted to have the educational material to support them back in the classroom.

The day was a great success and everyone learned much about the Black-fronted Piping-guan and its future release at REGUA.

REGUA to reintroduce South American Tapir

South American Tapir with GPS collar (© Patrícia Medici, INCAB)
From left: Ruy, Carlos Salvador (UFRJ), Adrian Monjeau (Fundación Bariloche), Joana Macedo (Uerj), Maron Galliez (IFRJ)and Nicholas (© Nicholas Locke)

An extremely exciting piece of news! After much planning, REGUA is moving forward with our Tapir Reintroduction Programme.

The South American Tapir Tapirus terrestrial, also known as Lowland Tapir or Brazilian Tapir, is classified as Vulnerable by the IUCN, but would have been widespread in the Atlantic Forest of the state of Rio de Janeiro in south-east Brazil, before hunting and habitat destruction brought it to extinction. REGUA, with it’s forests protected from hunting, restored wetlands, and Education Programme, is an ideal site for this ground breaking project.

The REGUA Tapir Reintroduction Programme is led by Rio de Janeiro University Professor Fernando Fernandez, who has previously successfully released Red-rumped Agouti Dasyprocta leporina and Brown Howler Monkey Alouatta guariba in Rio de Janerio’s Tijuca Forest National Park, and is being carried out in partnership with Instituto Federal do Rio de Janeiro (IFRJ), Universidade Federal do Rio de Janiero (UFRJ), Universidade Federal Rural de Rio de Janeiro (UFRRJ), Universidade estaudual do Rio de Janeiro (Uerj) and the Three Peaks State Park (Parque Estadual dos Três Picos).

Local builder Ruy and the team of REGUA rangers are planning to build the tapir pen next month. Although these animals are notoriously obstinate, the one hectare pen will be made out of reinforced and treated eucalyptus posts constructed in the forest on the far side of the wetlands.

A pair of tapirs will come from a breeder in the city of Araxá, about 1,000 km away from REGUA. After a period of quarantine they will be released with a GPS transmitter attached to register their tracks. We are ready to go into the field and mark the area.

South American Tapir is the largest land mammal in South America and known as the “overalls of the forest” for scattering seeds of various species of plants, contributing to the maintenance of biodiversity. Joanna, the project’s Education Officer, will be informing the local schools and communities of the importance of this species’ reintroduction to the environment.

This is the first time tapirs will be released and it is very exciting for us to be part of the project.

Attending AVISTAR next weekend?

The project leader, Alecsandra Tassoni will be presenting the reintroduction project to those attending AVISTAR next weekend.

Black-fronted Piping-guan (© Nicholas Locke)

As you may already be aware, the Black-fronted Piping-guan Project,  aims to reintroduce this endangered species to REGUA.   Numbers were reduced as the species was threatened by habitat loss and poaching, but the protection that REGUA can now provide makes it an excellent place to start the reintroduction.

In Avistar you’ll get to know more about where the birds will be released, including REGUA, and all the details about the rehabilitation phase, which involves feeding, flight and predator recognition training.

You’ll also have the opportunity to learn everything about the planning of the monitoring phase and how to get involved.

The Project will be presented by its coordinator Alecsandra Tassoni on May 20th at 3 pm in Auditorium 1 (Instituto Butantan – Av. Vital Brasil, 1500. São Paulo/SP-Brazil).

Black-fronted Piping-Guan Re-introduction Update

The old pen used for the Red-billed Curassow re-introduction programme which took place between 2005 and 2008 has been refurbished.   It is ready to receive the Black-fronted Piping-guans (Aburria jacutinga) over the next four years, as part of the programme financed by O Boticario and Birdlife International partner SAVE.

Release Pen
Release Pen (©Nicholas Locke)

The release pen is eight meters by 30 meters and eight meters high, with a secure cover of mesh to prevent snakes and rodents getting into the aviary.    There were 20 Black-fronted Piping-guans released in 2009 as part of the previous Red-billed Currasow project with Crax/ Brasil.   There were sightings in the forests of REGUA 2 years ago, but just recently one local resident saw a pair of these colourful birds in the forests of the Matumbo Gap.

As they are an arboreal species, the release pen has to be very high and the biologists accompanying the project have a strategy to ensure that the birds are encouraged to stay off the ground, thereby improving their chances of survival after release.   They need to remain in the campus of the trees away from hunting mammals, rodents and the occasional stray dog.    The more they stay in the canopies, the greater their chance for survival.

This is an exciting project that sees birds coming from a recognized bird breeder Tropicus, passing through the University of North Fluminense’s quarantine pens for a period of a month, adapting to the release pen and then freedom!

Black-fronted Piping-guan
Black-fronted Piping-guan(©Nicholas Locke)

REGUA is delighted to offer its forests as a gateway for their release to the wild.   They are a species that will help disperse fruits, especially the threatened heart of palm, Euterpe edulis and contribute as a charismatic species to represent REGUAs commitment to nature here.

Nicholas Locke

Black-fronted Piping-guan Re-introduction project update

Black-fronted Piping-guan
Black-fronted Piping-guan (© Nicholas Locke)

In October 2015, the first 20 Black-fronted Piping Guan (Aburria jacutinga) will be released at REGUA, the fruit of a partnership between REGUA and Birdlife International’s Brazilian partner SAVE Brazil , a project supported by Brazil’s cosmetic giant “O Boticário”.

This stunning Guan was discovered by German ornithologist Johann von Spix in 1819 in his travels in Rio state, not 50 km from REGUA.    Even in 1837 Charles Gardner described their abundance in the same place describing the hunting of the species by locals.    Noted Brazilian ornithologist Helmut Sick still noted local presence in 1915 in the Serra dos Órgãos but by 1950, but sadly not even two hundred years after their discovery, they were extinct in Rio State.

Although REGUA released 20 birds in a trial in 2009, the project will be the first major concerted effort to get the birds back in nature in its home ground.

The birds for release will be sourced from renowned captive breeders, Institute Tropicus. Adolescent birds will be transported to North Fluminense University ( UENF) for full veterinary health checks and final preparation for release under the care of Dr. Carlos Ruiz Miranda, before arriving at REGUA this coming October.

Doctorate student Livia who completed her master at REGUA will monitor the birds with radio tags as a means to learn this species’ behavior in the wild.   The subsequent generated information will help understand the needs of the species and with further releases in the next two years, followed by two years of further monitoring, it is hopeful that with this effort and knowledge, the birds will provide the basis for an initial population of the species in the forests of Rio de Janeiro

Everyone is very excited and the release pen at REGUA is currently being refurbished in their preparation.

Nicholas Locke

Black-fronted Piping-Guan project

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.

Black-fronted Piping-Guan project co-ordinator Alecsandra Tassoni (© 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.

Red-billed Curassow sighting – June 2012

Male Red-billed Curassow <em>Crax blumenbachii</em>, Estreito near REGUA, June 2012 (&copy; Lee Dingain)
Male Red-billed Curassow Crax blumenbachii, Estreito near REGUA, June 2012 (© Lee Dingain)
10 year old Camila named the curassow Aparecido - the one that appeared (&copy; Rachel Walls)
10 year old Camila named the curassow Aparecido – the one that appeared (© Rachel Walls)

During Lee’s and Rachel’s visit to REGUA, we had the chance of visiting the high Matumbo area (Estreito) where a Red-billed Curassow (male) has chosen to make his residence. We were informed that this bird had suddenly appeared in the grounds of this weekend home belonging to Senhor João from Rio de Janeiro.

The Red-billed Curassow was baptized with the name of “Aparecido”, which means the one that appeared (in the Portuguese language) by Camila, a 10 year old girl, who enthusiastically provided the name for this bird. Camila’s father is the caretaker of this place and he mentioned to us that Aparecido has been seen in this area for the last two months. Aparecido is regularly seen both within Senhor João’s chicken coup and in the surrounding forest adjacent to REGUA’s land.

Aparecido is showing the behaviour of a wild bird, weary of human presence. With the help of Jacob Hall and Katerina Samara, conservation biology students volunteering at REGUA, we aim at collecting data on the existing Red-billed Curassow population within the reserve and adjacent areas.

More photos of this fascinating bird can be found here.

REGUA plans for the Red-billed Curassow reintroduction gaining strength

REGUA and Crax Brazil worked together for four years on the IBAMA approved reintroduction of a locally extinct bird species, the Red-billed Curassow at REGUA. This magnificent species was last seen in Rio state in 1962 and now only a few isolated populations live in both northern Espirito Santo and southern Bahia states. These are large ground dwelling birds endemic only to south-east Brazil, and though they are capable of short flights and roost in trees for protection, they would never be able to roam these forests near Rio de Janeiro, the most southern tip of their former distribution area, due to the devastation of the forests in between and the wide Paraiba de Sul river.

In spite of all the odds against a successful reintroduction which takes years in the best of situations, birds rescued by Roberto Azeredo from the front line of falling forests over 30 years ago have been successfully raised in captivity and he has already contributed birds to the CENIBRA project in Minas Gerais for their own successful reintroduction programme over the last 15 years. Christine Steiner developed her doctorate paper on the reintroduction of these cracids at REGUA with radio telemetry monitoring of introduced birds raised at Crax Brasil, a project funded by the Wetland Trust, UK. The reintroduced birds had to be of a certain size yet young enough to adapt to the new forest conditions and to fit UK tailor developed transmission back packs made by Biotrack, UK. Though REGUA still hasn’t evidence of any young chicks in spite filming adult’s copulating and evidence of nest building, but Christine successfully caught the attention of the community by informing them of the importance of these birds and was able to turn them into a flagship species for this project (photo below).

REGUA has had to reduce the momentum of this project, but having completed her study, Dr Christine was appointed a professorship in South Bahia and is now spearheading a project with BirdLife International and zoos for their continued reintroduction. Various zoos have examples of these birds in their collections but suppress their reproduction as there are few sites to reintroduce them. Christine is seeking partners, IBAMA approved sites, and coordinating a big effort to return these birds to the forest. They are an essential component of healthy forest ecology due to their seed dispersal performance. We hope Christine is successful and these birds will not take long to become a common bird as it was in the days of the early Atlantic Rainforest explorers.

More about Red-billed Curassows here:

10 more Red-billed Curassows released

Red-billed Curassows <em>Crax blumenbachii</em> being released at REGUA, 19 September 2008 (&copy; Lee Dingain)
Red-billed Curassows Crax blumenbachii being released at REGUA, 19 September 2008 (© Lee Dingain)

On 19 September 2008, another 10 Red-billed Curassows Crax blumenbachii were released at REGUA. Stephen Rumsey of BART, which funds the project, was present to open the release pen. The birds needed some encouragement, but after a while the group of two males and eight females finally took their first steps into the wild. There have now been a total of 48 Red-billed Curassows released at REGUA, all of which have had radio tags and numbered rings fitted. Some of these birds have been predated and some have lost their tags, but the 23 known survivors are providing vital information which will assist with the planning and implementation of further release programmes. Birds are occasionally sighted around the reserve and biologist Christine Steiner from São Carlos University, São Paulo, who is studying the birds, is hopeful that one pair might possibly breed in the current season (August 2008 to March 2009).