Araripe Manakin, a critically endangered species that numbers no more than 800 individuals and survives in the smallest of areas — only 11 square miles in Ceará in northeastern Brazil — will now be better protected thanks to the establishment of two reserves.
The sparrow-size bird was discovered in 1996 and described two years later. It exists only in a narrow strip of humid forest on the slopes of the Araripe Plateau, an area subject to continuing pressure from agriculture and the development of recreational facilities.
The reserves were made possible through two actions: the purchase of a parcel of land encompassing 140 acres, and the consummation of a formal agreement with a neighboring landowner, who designated 27 acres of his land as a fully protected area.
The newly created 140-acre reserve borders the Araripe National Forest to the south and includes a house that may one day be converted to a tourist lodge. In addition, a river valley connects the property with the Sítio Fundão State Park, a fully protected 230-acre area managed by the state. The 27-acre parcel located to the south is now a private reserve formally recognized as preserved in perpetuity.
The manakin needs permanent springs and streams with prime nesting territories and good moist-forest habitat, all features provided in the acquisitions. The species prefers the lower and middle levels of the forest, where it feeds on fruit.
It shares its habitat with other species found nowhere but Brazil, such as Silvery-cheeked Antshrike, White-browed Antpitta, and Caatinga Antshrike. Just above their habitat is a plateau that is home to more than 100 additional species, including the endemic Planalto Slaty-Antshrike and Ceará Leaftosser.
The acquisition was led by Aquasis, a Brazilian conservation organization, with support from American Bird Conservancy. A joint reforestation project of Aquasis and ABC that resulted in the planting of 4,652 native seedlings in the area prompted the acquisition collaboration.
A version of this article appeared in the April 2015 issue of BirdWatching magazine. Subscribe.
This story was provided by American Bird Conservancy, a 501(c)(3), not-for-profit organization whose mission is to conserve native birds and their habitats throughout the Americas.