Located in Silva Jardim, Rio de Janeiro State, the base of the Associação Mico-Leão-Dourado—AMLD (Golden Lion Tamarin Association) is scheduled to become an ecological park open to visitation in 2021. The property is home to one end of a pioneering eco-overpass that gives wildlife safe passage across the BR-101 highway and functions as an ecological corridor linking up with the Poço das Antas Biological Reserve. Connectivity between isolated pockets of Atlantic Forest is fundamental to ensuring free transit and gene flow for this little marmoset, Leontopithecus rosalia.
The project Partnership for the Implementation of the Golden Lion Tamarin Ecological Park, financed by donations from ExxonMobil, supports the structuring and consolidation of the park. The initiative lends continuity to the company’s backing, begun in 2019, which has so far enabled the planting of 20 thousand seedlings of native species across an area equivalent to 14 football pitches.
Among the project’s benefits are the construction of a belvedere that will allow visitors and researchers to observe and monitor golden lion tamarin troupes. Located at one of the highest elevations in the park, it will supply a privileged vantage point from which to survey the landscape. The project also provides for the training of guides—thus generating local incomes—and onsite events where people can meet the animals, see the environment they live in, and learn about the main challenges facing this endangered species.
Today, the existing population of the golden lion tamarin, endemic to this specific part of the Atlantic Forest in Rio de Janeiro, is estimated at 2,500 (down from 3,700 in 2014). The species was heavily affected by the outbreak of yellow fever that hit the Southeast of the country in 2016, killing a large number of primates.
This small marmoset with striking orange-red fur has been a victim of animal trafficking ever since it was first described by travelers back in the 16th Century. Captured and caged, they were sent to Europe to be sold among the nobility as pets from the exotic tropics.
The golden lion tamarin, which illustrates the twenty-real bill, is a conservation success story in Brazil. Numbering only 200 surviving specimens in the 1970s, population figures have rebounded and grown twelvefold thanks to the ongoing conservation drive.