The woman building the forest corridors saving Brazil’s black lion tamarin, Zanon 2020

Compendium Volume 4 Number 2 January 2021

“The tamarin is unable to do anything to save its own species. And we, human beings, are the ones who are destroying their environment,” says conservationist Gabriela Rezende. “So, when I got the opportunity to see this animal in the wild, I felt partly responsible for its future.”

Rezende works with the Institute for Ecological Research in the Brazilian state of Sao Paolo to create ecological corridors connecting the forest fragments where the world’s only 1,800 black lion tamarin live in isolated populations. Since 1984, the institute has worked to protect this small primate species, which had reached a low point of 100 individuals and was listed as “critically endangered.” In addition to research and forest restoration, the institute also does environmental education with the local communities. This includes collaboration on nine tree nurseries administered by local people as small businesses that also provide school kids the chance to learn about local forest species that will be planted in corridors.

Leveraging a state policy requiring 20% of privately owned property to be in nature reserves, Rezende worked with landowners to identify patches to be restored that would physically connect forest fragments. Once corridors are complete, the total amount of land in connected habitat will be 111,000 acres. Rezende estimates the black lion tamarin population could increase 30% once it’s able to use the whole forest corridor. The restoration project will benefit other species too, including anteaters, tapirs (a pig-like animal with a short trunk), pumas, and ocelots (another wild cat species).

Zanon, Sibelia, 2020, The woman building the forest corridors saving Brazil’s black lion tamarin, Mongabay News,

For the full PDF version of the compendium issue where this article appears, visit Compendium Volume 4 Number 2 January 2021