Thought to be extinct, 100 BLTs are rediscovered in the reserve of Morro do Diabo forest in southwest Sao Paulo, Brazil and are the first sightings of this species in over 65 years. The survival of this small population in this patch of forest is attributed to the protected status of the reserve, with most other forest regions being decimated in the 1960s.
Claudio Valladares-Padua participates in Durrell's Endangered Species Management (DESMAN) training programme at the Durrell Academy in Jersey. Two years later, Claudio begins the first long-term study of the BLT in the wild, the results of which are essential for planning future conservation actions for the species.
The Brazilian government creates an International Committee for the Conservation and Management of the black lion tamarin and Durrell's Jeremy Mallinson is invited to sit on the committee. The first population viability analysis workshop is held 3 years later which considers the reintroduction of captive animals into the wild alongside other population and habitat management actions.
Jersey Wildlife Park begins the first international captive breeding programme for black lion tamarins outside of Brazil. Three breeding pairs arrive from Rio de Janeiro Primate Centre in Brazil. Durrell was the only institution selected outside of Brazil to breed the species in captivity. A year later, the first BLT to be bred outside of Brazil is born at Jersey Wildlife Park.
IPÊ is currently one of the largest NGOs in Brazil with more than 90 members of staff working on over 40 projects. The institute enabled Claudio to expand his work with the black lion tamarins to many other areas such as education, public awareness campaigns, policy, and integrated planning for different projects in many regions of the country.
Although the overall population size was found to be higher than previously thought, these individuals occurred across many sub populations meaning that the genetic flow between groups was low. The study concludes that without actions such as reintroductions and assisted dispersal through provision of habitat corridors, the tamarins were very likely to go extinct.
The metapopulation (a group of sub-populations that are linked by movements of individuals between them) management programme for the species is initiated. Experimental management actions started to be tested through the first translocation of a wild group from Rio Claro Farm in central Sao Paulo, to a 2000 hectare fragment of habitat in Mosquito Farm west Sao Paulo, where the species was no longer found.
This workshop results in recommendations for the maintenance of high levels of genetic diversity within the wild and captive populations. As part of this plan, Durrell's captive black lion tamarins are trained for their release into the Brazilian rainforest in their free-ranging woodland area. The tamarins spend a great deal of their time out and about foraging for invertebrates in the woods.
Black lion tamarins bred at Durrell are transported to Brazil for release to the wild as the first reintroduction action for the species. The first mixed group of wild and captive-bred black lion tamarins were introduced into the Morro do Diabo State Park. Radio-collars were fitted to the tamarins in order to track the released individuals.
Today, 55 black lion tamarins can be found in captivity and São Paulo Zoo, Rio Primate Centre and Jersey Zoo are the main holders of the species. Durrell takes part in a breeding and exchange programme with other organisations to ensure that inbreeding within captive populations does not occur.
The station covers 4 major forest fragments in the Pontal do Paranapanema, two of them containing black lion tamarins. The landscape-scale project 'Atlantic Forest Corridors' begins restoring forest in the region in order to reconnect the isolated fragments of remaining forest with planted corridors and is coordinated by DESMAN Graduate, Laury Cullen Jr.
The species persists in 11 known sub-populations but the Morro de Diabo subpopulation is the only one considered large enough to be viable. It is recommended that all sub-populations should number at least 500 individuals to maintain genetic diversity. A new large patch of forest is identified as potential habitat which, through translocations or reintroductions, could create a 'back up' to the large Morro do Diabo population.
Previously classified as 'Critically Endangered', the black lion tamarin is down-listed to 'Endangered' on the IUCN Red List, reflecting the decreased risk of extinction of the species as a result of successful conservation efforts.
This hugely successful landscape scale reforestation project led by IPÊ was supported by Durrell and the "Cans for Corridors" campaign. With 1.4 million trees planted, the corridor spans more than 700 hectares.
The Black Lion Tamarin Conservation Programme developed by IPÊ is awarded 'Best Conservation Initiative' in the National Award for Biodiversity, recognising the achievements of this 30-year programme which is now coordinated by Gabriela Rezende, a 2013 graduate of the Durrell Endangered Species Management (DESMAN) post-graduate certificate.