Rare birds abound in Brazil's Acre state

Jeremy Hance
September 17, 2012

The Brazilian state of Acre has had little attention by bird-lovers and bird scientists, though it lies deep in the Amazonian rainforest. Now a new survey in mongabay.com's open access journal Tropical Conservation Science by ornithologist, John J. DeLuca, works to build a better picture of rare birds in this largely-neglected region. The work is all the more important as the Brazil-Peru Interoceanic Highway could bring massive changes to the region.

"[The highway] may lead to a drastic increase in deforestation throughout southwestern Amazonia and cause a decline in the habitat and populations of species of conservation concern," DeLuca notes, adding that on the positive-side, "Easier access to Acre may also increase opportunities for ecotourism, especially birding tours focused on rare and restricted-range species."

Conducting over 200 surveys of birds in bamboo and primary rainforest ecosystems, DeLuca found that the Rufous twistwing (Cnipodectes superrufus), which was only discovered in 2007, was rare, but still present. The species is currently listed as Vulnerable by the IUCN Red List. The blue-headed macaw (Primolius couloni), also listed as Vulnerable, was uncommon, but widely spread across the region.

Through interviewing 21 local hunters, DeLuca also found that the harpy eagle (Harpia harpyja) and the crested eagle (Morphnus guianensis), both listed as Near Threatened, were rare to uncommon in the area. Both species were killed for the perception that they are dangerous to livestock.

"It is important to note that there is no peer-reviewed, first-hand documentation of either species killing livestock; these perceptions may be based more on rumor than on reality," DeLuca writes, noting that more research is needed.

In these interviews, DeLuca also found that hunters were widely interested in ecotourism opportunities.

"Development of community-run ecotourism may increase local support for wildlife conservation and result in less consumption or persecution of rare birds and other wildlife of conservation concern," he writes, pointing to Assis Brazil in the Chico Mendes Extractive Reserve as a prime location to start such an operation.

CITATION: DeLuca, J. J. 2012. Birds of conservation concern in eastern Acre, Brazil: distributional records, occupancy estimates, human-caused mortality, and opportunities for ecotourism. Tropical Conservation Science Vol. 5(3):301-319.

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Jeremy Hance
mongabay.com (September 17, 2012).

Rare birds abound in Brazil's Acre state.