Great discoveries in the Amazon: How newly discovered mammals may have a significant impact on species conservation
In our times, as almost every corner of the earth has been explored, the discovery of new large mammals is a real sensation. During the last years a number of unknown terrestrial and aquatic mammal species have been identified in the Rio Aripuanã basin in Brazil (part of the Central Amazon Basin), among them several primate species, one giant peccary, a dwarf form of the Amazonian freshwater manatee, a dwarf tapir, a second giant anteater, a second paca — only to name a few. Further unknown species are assumed to live in this region. Altogether, they make up an amazing variety of hidden Amazonian wildlife.
The Amazon Rainforest is known for its rich biodiversity as well as for its major endangerment through rapid deforestation and industrial agriculture. In fact, the timber industry, followed by soybeans farmers, advances more and more into areas of the so far intact jungle whose inhabitants are threatened with extinction. To prevent the proceeding destruction of this unique biosphere, the creation of nature reserves is essential. With the spectacular discovery of new species, not only the interest of the local and worldwide public, but also a change of mind of the responsible authorities might be attained. Moreover, the scientific registration of these 'new' species is crucial, since only officially registered species can benefit from large-scale protection, e.g. within the framework of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES).
The conservation of biodiversity in such a rich area like the Rio Aripuanã Basin requires rapid action.
In 2006, Stiftung Artenschutz, in cooperation with the Association Hiléia, supported two expeditions to the Juma region and the following scientific processing of the data obtained. The indigenous river people ('Caboclos') already knew a lot about animal species new to science and their cooperation was a tremendous help. A number of data on animal species were registered. After their revision, scientific publications are planned as well as further publicity for the project. But even before the scientific evaluation is finished, a great success has been achieved: the area has been declared a reserve by the Brazilian government. It is now a 'Protectorate of Sustainable Development (RDS)' which is the first of the four potential Brazilian conservation categories.
Stiftung Artenschutz thanks the Schellenberg Stiftung for its financial support and close cooperation!